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 loved music and singing but the thought of performing a solo in front of the entire school scared her. She preferred to sing in the choir and blend in with everyone else. Amina had one best friend Soojin — the only other student with an ethnic name in her class — but she was worried about losing her best friend when another girl wanted to join their group.
I loved that this was a sweet coming-of-age novel about navigating friendships and overcoming fears. It also addressed tough topics like religion and islamophobia, both of which I think are important issues today.
I liked Amina and her family, including her mother, father and teenaged brother. Their interactions were genuine, and as an immigrant, I could relate to some aspects of their experience, such as their nervousness while preparing the house for their uncle’s visit from their home country.
I liked that this book featured a Muslim family and I really enjoyed learning more about the Muslim religion as well as Pakistani culture. In the story, it was interesting to see how Amina incorporated the values of her culture and religion in her everyday life in America. In addition the novel also focused on themes that are relatable to everyone, such as jealousy and the fear of losing a friend.
This was a very short book but I thought it was brilliantly paced. It never felt too rushed or too slow.
Also isn’t the cover art so pretty?
Without going into specifics, I thought that one aspect of the ending wasn’t too realistic and felt a bit forced.
Amina’s voice is a sweet and heartfelt coming-of-age contemporary MG novel, featuring a Muslim main character. If you enjoy diverse MG novels, give this a try!