9781481492065Amina’s Voice
By Hena Khan
Published by Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Age Range: 8 and older

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“Khan deftly—and subtly—weaves aspects of Pakistani and Muslim culture into her story, allowing readers to unconsciously absorb details and develop understanding and compassion for another culture and faith.”
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

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.

Reviews & Accolades
“Written as beautifully as Amina’s voice surely is, this compassionate, timely novel is highly recommended for all libraries.” —Booklist, Starred Review

“A satisfying read about an 11-year-old girl navigating friendship, family, religion, and dreams of becoming a soul-singing sensation. In a quiet Milwaukee suburb, Amina and her best friend Soojin grapple with their own ethnic identities and the pressure to Americanize. Soojin is Korean American and on the pathway to citizenship. She’s contemplating changing her name to solidify her American identity, while Amina, who is Pakistani American, must reconcile her love of singing Motown with her Muslim faith. Popular Emily, a white girl, who has a history of bullying, creates a wedge when she tries to befriend the pair, drawing skepticism from Amina. Things begin to unravel when Amina’s uncle comes to visit from Pakistan and her deficiencies in Urdu and Arabic are exposed—along with the fact that Amina and her older brother, Mustafa, aren’t necessarily the perfect children her father would like them to be. When the neighborhood mosque is vandalized, the greater community comes together. Amina’s struggles to balance her faith, friendship, and aspirations are all resolved—albeit a bit too neatly. VERDICT A universal story of self-acceptance and the acceptance of others. A welcome addition to any middle grade collection.
School Library Journal, Starred Review

“A Pakistani-American girl starting middle school learns how to cope with the changes and challenges she faces at home, at school, and within her close-knit Muslim community. True to her parents’ endearment for her, geeta (“song” in Urdu), Amina loves to sing. But unlike the contestants on her favorite reality TV show The Voice, Amina shuns the spotlight—she’s a bundle of nerves in front of an audience! She’s happy living her life as usual, hanging out with her best friend, Korean-American Soojin, playing the piano, and attending Sunday school at the Islamic Center. Except that life isn’t “as usual” anymore. In fact, everything is changing, and changing fast. Soojin wants an “American” name to go with her new citizenship status, and even worse, Soojin starts getting chummy with their elementary school nemesis, a white girl named Emily, leaving a jealous Amina fuming. Then, her visiting uncle voices his disapproval of her piano-playing, saying it’s forbidden in Islam. Finally, when the Islamic Center is vandalized, Amina feels like the whole world as she knows it is crumbling around her. With the help and support of the larger community, the Islamic Center is slowly rebuilt, and Amina comes to terms with her identity and culture, finding strength in her own voice. Khan deftly—and subtly—weaves aspects of Pakistani and Muslim culture into her story, allowing readers to unconsciously absorb details and develop understanding and compassion for another culture and faith. Amina’s middle school woes and the universal themes running through the book transcend culture, race, and religion. A perfect first book for this new Muslim imprint.
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“For musically gifted Amina Khokar, sixth grade heralds a multitude of changes. Her best friend Soojin is about to be granted citizenship and plans to leave her Korean name behind, plus Soojin has befriended another classmate, Emily, whom Amina distrusts. Meanwhile, Amina’s family is hosting her strict Muslim great-uncle, who is visiting Wisconsin from Pakistan, and stage-fright-prone Amina prepares to publically read a passage from the Quran in Arabic. The vandalism of the local Islamic Center and mosque further heightens the turmoil in this timely coming-of-age story. Through Amina’s emotional, honest responses—betrayed confusion over Soojin wanting an American name, her worry about her uncle’s comments that her passion for music is un-Islamic, her dejected disbelief in response to the Islamophobic vandalism—Khan (Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns) gracefully addresses the difficulty of reconciling individual beliefs with those of others, especially those you love, as well as the complications that accompany the merging of cultures. Watching Amina literally and figuratively find her voice—bolstered by community, friendship, and discovered inner strength—makes for rewarding reading.”
Publishers Weekly

Groups Represented
Pakistani American
Korean American

Theme: #OwnVoices
Theme: Art Therapy
Theme: Community
Theme: Cross-Group Friendship
Theme: Cultural Identity
Theme: First Generation
Theme: Religious Faith
Theme: Religious Persecution

United States (Wisconsin)

Engagement Projects & Resources

READ & SHARE Reading Group Guide

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