A Pakistani-American girl starting middle school learns how to cope with the changes and challenges she faces at home, at school, and within her close-knit Muslim community.
True to her parents’ endearment for her, geeta (“song” in Urdu), Amina loves to sing. But unlike the contestants on her favorite reality TV show The Voice, Amina shuns the spotlight—she’s a bundle of nerves in front of an audience! She’s happy living her life as usual, hanging out with her best friend, Korean-American Soojin, playing the piano, and attending Sunday school at the Islamic Center. Except that life isn’t “as usual” anymore. In fact, everything is changing, and changing fast. Soojin wants an “American” name to go with her new citizenship status, and even worse, Soojin starts getting chummy with their elementary school nemesis, a white girl named Emily, leaving a jealous Amina fuming. Then, her visiting uncle voices his disapproval of her piano-playing, saying it’s forbidden in Islam. Finally, when the Islamic Center is vandalized, Amina feels like the whole world as she knows it is crumbling around her. With the help and support of the larger community, the Islamic Center is slowly rebuilt, and Amina comes to terms with her identity and culture, finding strength in her own voice. Khan deftly—and subtly—weaves aspects of Pakistani and Muslim culture into her story, allowing readers to unconsciously absorb details and develop understanding and compassion for another culture and faith. Amina’s middle school woes and the universal themes running through the book transcend culture, race, and religion.
A perfect first book for this new Muslim imprint. (Fiction. 10-14)