Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan (2017)
Genre: Middle Grade, Fiction, Contemporary
Page Length: 208 pages (hardcover edition)
A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community in this sweet and moving middle grade novel from the award-winning author of It’s Ramadan, Curious George and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns.
Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.
Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other. (description from Goodreads)
Amina’s Voice is Middle Grade story about cultural identity as well as a coming of age tale. The book follows a young Pakistani-American girl named Amina as she starts middle school with her best friend Soojin, and soon things start to change. Soojin becomes close to Emily, a girl who used to bull them in elementary school but has since changed her ways, and Amina feels as if Soojin is distancing herself from her. On top of that her family is preparing and is slightly stressed out about her uncle’s impending visit from Pakistan. He’s not used to the American lifestyle, is set in his ways, and they wonder how he will react to their life. With all of these new changes, Amina starts to question why can’t things stay the same.
Amina’s Voice is a short length book at about 200 pages and it has a fast-paced plot. I absolutely love the colorful artwork on the cover and how it reflects the overall story. It’s gorgeous story inside and out and it’s filled with themes of themes of finding yourself, and dealing with change. This story is not only relatable since middle school can be a big change for some students, but reading this story from a PoC narrative helps kids like Amina to see themselves in the books they read.
The novel is clear, concise, and sends a positive message while relating to many events that are occurring in today’s society. I enjoyed the book thoroughly and I appreciated that it tackled heavy various issues without being too heavy. It teaches lessons about respecting other cultures and to not be afraid to be yourself.
This is definitely the kind of diverse narrative I want to see even more of in Middle Grade literature!
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