Amina's Voice (Amina #1)

by Hena Khan (Author)

Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade
Series: Amina

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.

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
"A perfect first book for this new Muslim imprint. (Fiction. 10-14)"

Publishers Weekly

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.)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 4-6—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.

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"This gentle example of multicultural domestic realism hits all of the right notes...a comforting counternarrative to what young readers may see on the news."—BCCB "March 2017 "
Hena Khan
Hena Khan is the author of numerous books for children, including Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors and Night of the Moon: A Muslim Holiday Story. She lives in Rockville, Maryland.

Mehrdokht Amini is the illustrator of Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors and other books for children. She grew up in Iran and now lives in Surrey, England.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication date
May 01, 2018
BISAC categories
JUV039060 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Friendship
JUV013000 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | General
JUV011020 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - Asian American
JUV039120 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Prejudice & Racism
JUV039100 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Peer Pressure
JUV039280 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Religion & Faith
Library of Congress categories
JUVENILE FICTION / Social Issues / Friendship
Friendship in children
JUVENILE FICTION / Social Issues / Prejudice
JUVENILE FICTION / Family / General (see also
Pakistani Americans
Washington Post
Best Children's Book 2017 - 2017

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