Title: Amina’s Voice (Amina’s Voice #1)
Author: Hena Khan
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Release Date: March 14, 2017
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.
Middle schooler Amina is a great singer but she doesn’t want to be in the spotlight. When her best friend, Soojin, starts spending time with Emily, a popular girl who has teased Amina in the past, Amina feels left out. Soojin is also planning on changing her name to sound more American, even though their unique names are what drew Amina and Soojin together in the first place. Amina tries to deal with these changes, while her community is facing the aftermath of her mosque being vandalized.
This story was very well developed. The characters felt like real people because they each had a full background. Each character also had their own storyline, despite it being a fairly short middle grade story. Amina had different challenges at home, school, and her mosque. At home, Amina needed to follow her parents’ rules and impress her uncle who was visiting from Pakistan. At school, Amina had to deal with her changing relationship with her best friend. At her mosque, Amina witnessed an attack on her community. Each of these situations were realistic and relatable for readers, regardless of their religion.
There were some upsetting things that happened in this story. Amina was bullied in the past because she was different from her classmates. She questioned her religion and her hobbies when she discovered that her love of music may conflict with her religious beliefs. Her mosque was attacked, which rallied her greater community together. These questions behind religion and attacks need to be addressed in children’s fiction to learn about other people’s experiences.
I really enjoyed this middle grade novel and I’m excited to read the upcoming sequel!
What to read next:
Once Upon an Eid by S.K. Ali, Aisha Saeed (editors)
Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
Have you read Amina’s Voice? What did you think of it?