Format: Paperback ARC
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Realistic Middle-Grade Fiction
What did you like about the book? Amina is just headed into middle school. She’s never been comfortable in the spotlight and at first turns down a chance to perform a solo in an upcoming chorus despite her good voice and love of singing… but really enjoys just hanging out with her best friend Soojin. But now Soojin wants to hang out with Emily too (a girl who tormented them in previous years for their different backgrounds; Amina is Pakistani American and Soojin is Korean and soon to be American). When vandals target her community’s mosque Amina is devastated. She must juggle her worry over her changing relationship with her best friend, her fear about fitting in, her concern over the shock in her community, and just growing up in general. This is a real and touching nearly memoir-feeling short novel about a girl who is just trying to do her best in Middle School, navigating the usual school dramas along with the additional concerns of Muslim sentiment in the United States. While there are a few dark moments this is overall a really positive book about community and friendship and family. There is a good bit of diversity too as the likeable main character, Amina, is Pakistani American and her best friend Soojin is Korean. The way the author weaves in Arabic phrases and explains (without any sense of Teacher Mode) brief bits of Muslim religion are very well done and interesting as well.
Anything you didn’t like about it? The book wraps up quickly at the end and could have benefited from another chapter or two to prevent it feeling rushed.
To whom would you recommend this book? (Read-alikes if you can think of them) Anyone who is interested in Malala’s story will find Amina’s story to be simpler in prose but very enjoyable. Also recommend to anyone looking for a good “just going into Middle School” story.
Who should buy this book? Middle Schools, Public Libraries
Where would you shelve it? Middle Grade Fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: April Duclos, Hudson Public Library, Hudson MA
Date of review: 1/16/17