cover image The Garden of My Imaan

The Garden of My Imaan

Farhana Zia. Peachtree, $15.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-56145-698-7

Aliya is an Indian-American Muslim preteen trying to make her way through school and life, riding the various divides between the conservative and liberal interpretations of her religion, standing up to the school bully, working up the nerve to talk to her crush and to run for student council, all while dealing with her annoying younger brother and fasting for Ramadan during Thanksgiving. Aliya’s world is turned upside down with the arrival of Marwa, a Moroccan girl who wears a hijab and seems to fast every day of Ramadan with ease. Embarrassed by Marwa, Aliya starts writing letters to Allah in this modern homage to Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Zia (Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-Ji) has deep insight into adolescent Muslim life and capably handles diversity within American Islam. She provides one of the better representations of the matriarchy of South Asian families in her depiction of Aliya’s home life—with the strong presence of her mother, grandmother, and even great-grandmother—and seamlessly weaves the Urdu language into her story. Ages 8–12. Agent: Jennifer Unter, the Unter Agency. (May)