Summary: 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.
My 12-year-old son and I listened to the audiobook version, beautifully narrated by Soneela Nankani in a way that perfectly captures Amina’s loving heart and earnest nature. Khan has accomplished the remarkable feat of creating a warm, funny school and family story that takes on a variety of issues – dealing with prejudice, navigating friendships, overcoming fears – without ever once feeling like an “issues” book. Religious details that may be unfamiliar to non-Muslim readers occupy the story in a natural, straightforward way that informs without lecturing or information dump. This book also contains, through Amina’s mentions of the treatment she has received from classmates over the years, some of the truest depictions of microaggressions I have ever read – how they occur, how they are discounted by the people who perpetuate them, but how heavily they can weigh on the psyche of a marginalized person. As a reader, I was spellbound by Amina’s story; as a writer, I was inspired by Khan’s masterful use of craft; as a parent, I was grateful for such an engaging story that has led to many important conversations with my son.
AMINA’S VOICE is out now.