Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Amina’s Voice

Hena Khan, Author

Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Fiction,  Mar. 14, 2017

Suitable for Ages: 8-12

Themes: Pakistani and Asian Americans, Friendship, Peer Pressure, Family, Muslim Culture, Community, Prejudice, Racism

Opening: Something sharp pokes me in the rib. “You should totally sign up for a solo,” Soojin whispers from the seat behind me in music class. I shake my head. The mere thought of singing in front of a crowd makes my stomach twist into knots.

Book Jacket SynopsisAmina 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,” now that she is to become a citizen. Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with  these questions, her local mosque is vandalized, and she is devastated.

Why I like this book:

Hena Khan has written a timely and empowering novel about a young Muslim American girl, who finds her voice with the help of friends, family, and community.

Khan’s novel is multi-layered with many themes. The central theme of Khan’s book is about what it’s like to be a Muslim girl growing up in America. She takes her readers into a loving and strict Muslim family, where cultural traditions are at the center of their lives, from praying, studying the Quran and meal preparation, to the respect shown to visitors and the value of community.

The main characters are multi-dimensional and diverse. Amina is a kind-hearted, shy, and talented pianist and vocalist. Her best friend, Soojin, is Chinese and wants to change her name because no one knows how to pronounce it. Bottom line, she wants to fit in. This raises important questions for Amina. Would the popular kids like her better if she changes her name? How does she be true to her Muslim values and still be American? Many readers will identify with the angst of middle school as they navigate through those sensitive years. Amina’s story will also resonate with children of immigrants.

The language is carefully crafted and uplifting. The plot is realistic and leaves readers with hope even after the Islamic Center is attacked and vandalized. It is heartwarming to see how the community rallies behind the Muslim community by inviting them to use their churches and providing labor to rebuild the center. It beautifully demonstrates to readers the meaning of our common humanity. I know my community would come to the rescue of our Muslim neighbors. Verdict: This book belong in every middle grade library. It’s a treasure!

Hena Khan is a Pakistani American who was born and raised in Maryland. She enjoys writing about her culture. She is the author of several books, including It’s Ramadan, Curious George, Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, and Night of the Moon. You can learn more about Hena Khan by visiting her website.

Check other Middle Grade review links on author Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

25 thoughts on “Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

  1. I enjoyed this book a lot! I think the cover is beautiful, and I think the title really matches up with what the book is about. It’s a great story about accepting others and accepting ourselves. It’s especially important to understand Muslims today. Thanks for your review!

    Like

    • Thank you for pointing out that the cover is absolutely beautiful — I forgot to comment. I’m delighted that you enjoyed this MG novel. Yes, what we really need is acceptance and tolerance in the world today. Great topic for kids.

      Like

  2. I love that there are books about other cultures, from the point of view of children, being published. Your comment on how the book beautifully demonstrates to readers the meaning of our common humanity, says it all.

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    • I knew you’d like this book, Darlene. It belongs in all school libraries. I hope teachers teach about our common humanity in the classroom, because their students will be our future leaders. I have been involved with the Muslim community near us and it has been such a joy to make so many new friends. We worked together to sponsor a concert with the philharmonic orchestra based on the poems of Rumi. It was a beautiful and fun venture.

      Like

      • How wonderful to be involved in another culture’s community. I am sure you have had much enjoyment and satisfaction from your activities. I would have loved to attend that concert.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. So many immigration type stories have come out this past year. That’s a good thing. This one has some great messages and I liked the opening line. I’ve added this one to my list of books to read. Thanks for the review.

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    • Very well stated! I love to share different cultures with kids. It is helpful for kids to know a little about the customs and traditions of many of their classmates at school, and realize the things they have in common.

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  4. I agree with the others who left comments that we need more immigration stories! I like that although the mosque gets vandalized, the book ends on a hopeful note.

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