Amina’s Voice presents a very enjoyable story of an 11-year-old Pakistani-American Muslim girl in Milwaukee, and is a welcome addition to any middle grade collection. While my opinion of the book isn’t based on it being set in my home state of Wisconsin, it doesn’t hurt either, as it makes the topic even more relatable to my students from a very small rural Wisconsin community who have little exposure to Muslim culture. Khan does an excellent job of weaving Amina’s friendship and family struggles within the story about faith and heritage, and treats the potentially-disturbing events involving a hate crime with middle-grade-appropriate sensitivity. While the story wraps up a bit more neatly than real life similar events do, it is a reassuring note for students that one act of hate does not necessitate a loss of hope. I will be buying copies of this book for both of my school libraries.
Here is the official description of the book:
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.
Hena Khan‘s new-to-me picture book, “Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors” is one I just recently introduced to all K-5 students in my library, followed by great discussions spurred by students.
(I received a digital advance review copy of this book, all opinions are my own)