Amina's Voice

Amina's Voice
Age Range
Release Date
March 14, 2017
Buy This Book
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.

Editor review

1 review
Timely Story about the Concept of Home
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Amina (AH min ah) lives near Milwaukee, and enjoys being with her friend Soojin. She loves to sing, but doesn't like to do so in public. Things are changing in her world-- Soojin has decided that once she and her family have become citizens, she will change her name to something that sounds less Korean, and is also friendly with Emily, the girls' former nemesis. At home, Amina's brother Mustafa is becoming an obnoxious teenager, and her father's older brother is coming from Pakistan to stay with the family for three months. Because her father respects his brother so much, he expects Amina and her brother to be on their best behavior, which includes no singing around the house as well as entering a Quran recitation contest, which has Amina very nervous. When a misunderstanding causes Soojin and Emily to stop speaking to her, Amina thinks things can't get any worse... until the mosque her family attends is gravely vandalized. What do the vandals mean, "Go home!"? Amina is home, and has to reconcile how she sees herself with how others see her, not only regarding her Muslim background but her singing and her relationship with family and friends.
Good Points
Many middle school students are involved in religious organizations without thinking too much about the philosophy of the religion, and it is great when a book can speak to this experience and hit the right balance. Amina occasionally thinks about whether her actions are consistent with her religious beliefs, but is more concerned with the social aspects-- her Sunday school class, the Quran competition, and how her culture is understood by her friends at school. While this book will speak to students who share Amina's Muslim background, it also addresses universal concerns that middle grade students have in a realistic and touching way.

The details of Amina's home life are wonderfully drawn, and the descriptions of food, clothing, celebrations and family relationships again serve as vivid mirrors or clear windows to a way of life. Her individual quirks, such as being afraid of speaking in public and having trouble eating when she is upset, are very common among middle school students, and are depicted with a light touch.

When I was in middle school, I loved reading stories about ordinary girls struggling through their own middle school experiences so that I could compare the things they went through with my own life. Paula Danziger, Ellen Conford and Betty Miles were authors I turned to for this sort of book; today, Lauren Myracle, Meg Cabot, and Heather Vogel Frederick offer this same reassuring type of story. Amina's Voice is a lighthearted but insightful look at Amina's very ordinary life that also manages to delve into much more serious and timely issues of culture, acceptance, and the concept of home.
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