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DRAWING DEENA by Hena Khan Kirkus Star


by Hena Khan

Pub Date: Feb. 6th, 2024
ISBN: 9781534459915
Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Seventh grader Deena has a passion for art, a supportive Pakistani American community—and anxiety.

Deena feels nauseated every morning; her clenched jaw has even resulted in a cracked tooth. Her parents already fight over finances, so an expensive nightguard adds to the stress. If Mama could earn more from her small home business designing and selling desi clothing, the family would also have enough money for Deena to take drawing lessons. With the help of cousins and friends, Deena successfully executes an online marketing campaign for her mom’s business, unfurled with careful attention to internet safety and featuring a logo she designed herself. These achievements, plus encouragement from a new artist customer, help grow Deena’s confidence in her creative abilities. But now that she’s getting accolades, she encounters relationship turmoil. That, plus the impact of her parents’ fighting, leads to a scary panic attack in math class. Deena embraces help from a team of adults at school, but will her parents be able to understand and accept her mental health needs? Meanwhile, through her art, Deena goes on a journey of personal and creative discovery and self-expression. Readers will delight in Deena’s endearing voice: She’s an inventive and relatable protagonist. Khan skillfully weaves in cultural references and Urdu phrases alongside thoughtful questions about the arts, mental health, social media, parent-child relationships, and the pressures adolescent girls face about their appearances.

A nuanced and quietly powerful story.

(Fiction. 8-13)