cover image Amina’s Voice

Amina’s Voice

Hena Khan. Saalam Reads, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-4814-9206-5

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. Ages 8–12. Agent: Matthew Elblonk, DeFiore and Company. (Mar.)