24 June 2017

Amina's Voice by Hena Khan



Published: March 14, 2017 
# of Pages: 208 
Source: Library Copy 


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.
 


I've had my eyes on this book since the end of last year. It was extremely refreshing to find out that there was going to be a new children's book that focused on a young Pakistani-American Muslim girl and her experience in trying to remain true to her own culture while attempting to find her way into American culture. It was a beautifully written book that literally draws on various cultural aspects that teachers the reader a lot about learning to appreciate one's culture while learning and appreciating another. 

The writing in the book is simplistic and straight forward for readers between the ages of 8-12. As an adult, I felt that the context of the book was simple enough for young readers to understand, but not so simple that it lost its true meaning and beauty. One of the best parts of this book was the diversity of the characters. Our main character is Pakistani-American and Muslim and her best friend is Korean. Soojin, Amina's best friend, serves as a polarizing opposite. She, although proud of her Korean heritage, wants to assimilate to American culture through the changing of her name and the befriending other characters such as Emily. Amina; however, wishes to maintain and respect her Pakistani, Muslim roots. She finds her history, culture intriguing and unique. Interestingly enough, Amina finds problems in learning that some of her own family members do not care for certain aspects of American culture. It is this ideology that serves as a catalyst for Amina's internal conflict: simply stay true Pakistani, Muslim culture or interweave it into American culture. Khan does an amazing job  building and resolving this conflict. 

People often ask me why I enjoy reading diverse books or books about different cultures. It simply comes from the joy of reading about a culture and traditions outside of mine. This book is a perfect example of what it means to not only read and learn about a new culture, but also to watch a character grow and learn about themselves. This book contained that and so much more. The plot moved at a great pace. It's more character driven than plot so be aware of that when reading. This book didn't get a complete 5 stars from me because I wanted a little more of a cultural experience and the plot wrapped up a little too neatly. 

If you're interested in checking out a book that will give you a new perspective to a different culture I would definitely recommend checking this out. 



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