Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan – A sweet little story about bravery and community

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.

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.

My review:

Books like Amina’s Voice are the reason why I started reading diverse middle-grade books. There is something so delightful and special about these books that capture the innocence, optimism, and wonder of children and their stories.

It follows young Amina Khokar, a Pakistani-American girl who lives with her parents and older brother in Milkauwee. Having just started middle school, Amina begins to feel that the things around her are changing, leaving her feeling a little lost and unsure of everything. Her best friend may not be her best friend anymore, her uncle from Pakistan is visiting, her older brother Mustafa is starting to enter the tumultuous period of ‘independence’, Amina may have to face her fear of performing in public with the upcoming Qu’ran reciting competition (that her parents entered her in without her knowing!) and the upcoming concert that Amina knows she’ll sing amazingly in if her worries weren’t in the way.

 This Quran competition is something I want nothing to do with. I say a quick prayer that Mama wasn’t paying attention and that she won’t sign me up as everyone gets up and stands in neat rows.

The story in Amina’s Voice is simple, but that’s what made it so utterly charming and lovely. Being twelve can be a rough time, especially when things are changing, and I adored Khan’s portrayal of Amina’s struggles: small, quiet, but absolutely significant. The explorations of friendships, family, growing up and faith were fantastic and earnest. Even though I’m a decade older than Amina, Khan’s flawless writing transported me back to a time where I was twelve, making me empathize and connect deeply with Amina.

But, this book wasn’t written for me; Amina’s Voice is for young readers, and I’m pleased to say that this book is perfect for them and it makes me happy knowing that this book exists for young Muslim Pakistani readers. However, what anchors the story from the get-go is Amina herself; I utterly adored her. Compassionate, thoughtful, and conscientious, Amina was a lovely protagonist and a genuine pleasure to read about, and I’m certain many others will love her just as much as I did.

At the story’s very core, Amina’s Voice is about being true to oneself. There is a particularly heartbreaking scene towards the end of the book, and seeing it through the eyes of the young girl made it all the more devastating. However, the story ends far from a sad note. Instead, the ending of the book offers a hopeful message that emphasizes the importance of community, friendships, and working together to become stronger. It is a beautiful message, one that is hopeful, teaches meaningful lessons, and illustrates the beauty of bravery. An absolutely beautiful middle grade book, and I cannot recommend it enough.

Rating: 5 / 5

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | My review on Goodreads


Is this book for you?

Premise in a sentence: A young Pakistani-American girl faces changes and her anxieties in a sweet middle-grade novel about bravery and community.

Perfect for: readers new to middle grade novels, and if you’re in need of something lighthearted that also touches on important topics.

Genre: Middle grade, contemporary

Recommended? Absolutely! ❤️


Let’s discuss!

  • Have you read Amina’s Voice before? What did you think of it?
  • What’s something that is a part of your childhood that you’d love to see in a middle grade book?
  • What’s another middle grade novel that you think would be great for marginalized younger readers?
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25 thoughts on “Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan – A sweet little story about bravery and community

  1. I recently read Amina’s Voice and adored it! This quote, “It makes me happy knowing that this book exists for young Muslim Pakistani readers.” I agree! Amazing review <3

    • Ahhh hello!!
      Oh I’m so happy that you enjoyed it too. Wasn’t it fantastic?! I wish more people knew about this book – it’s so lovely and deserves more recognition.
      Ah thank you so much! <3

  2. Oooh. I haven’t heard of this book before, but it’s on the top of the TBR now! I might not be Muslim or Pakistani, but I can certainly relate to what Amina’s going through! Thank you for reviewing this book and bringing it to light.

    As far as a situation younger Jackie experienced I’d love to see in MG books…I’d like to see situations where poorer children were going to a more affluent school and the pressures associated with finances appearing. Just a generic middle-class school and kids who live below the poverty line trying to “keep up with the Joneses”, as it were. Are there books like that?

  3. Such a beautiful review, as always! I don’t read Middle Grade novels usually, but I really want to read that one now….It sounds quite great :)

    • Hello Marie!!
      Aw thank you so much!
      I never read MG… until I did, and I have never looked back! They’re a great contrast to YA books, and perfect if you want something lighter or explores themes like growing up, change, and family. I hope you give this one a go, Marie! It’s a lovely book. <3

  4. This book made it to my tbr because the cover is stunning but I’m so glad it’s getting amazing reviews and has great rep! As for more I’d like to see in MG’s I’d love to see some more neurodiverse middle grades and kids with autism kicking ass. Great Review <3

    • Hi Casey!
      Isn’t the cover absolutely gorgeous?
      I’m so glad you added this to your TBR. It’s such an underrated MG, and it just made me so so happy.

      I’d love to see more neurodiverse MG books or one son autism too. Come to think of it, I haven’t read books with either, so I really must fix that sometime. Do you have any recommendations by any chance? :)

      • I’ve sought out a few books that has mc with autism but yeah it’s hard to find hyped ones 😔 Queens of Geek is getting all the hype tho and it has a Aspie girl as a main and is own voices I adored that book! Also some of my other faves are Are You Seeing Me by Darren Groth, anything by typical(this is a very young read but fantastic for children) and I have Navigating Early and On the Edge of Gone in my tbr Im excited to read some kick ass fantasy with neurodiverse MC’s

  5. This book sounds so sweet! I haven’t read anything meant for younger readers than YA in the longest time. This book sounds like it gets the balance between sweet and relevant right. It sounds like it could be a great one for kids to read in school.

    I’m always so impressed by writers who can make the voice of their character sound so genuinely young. It’s hard to get remember what it was like before you knew everything you know now, to write a character in a situation they can feel is wrong but that they perhaps don’t have the context to fully understand yet.

    I remember when I was a kid I wanted to see single mums in books that weren’t terrible people. I’m sure it’s better now than it was back then, but as a kid I remember reading a lot of books that were very much about single parent failure. Obviously it can be difficult, but that’s not all that it is, you know?

  6. This sounds like my cup of tea, identity crisis is something we all could relate too, and the inocence thoughts of main characters in middle grade usually gives us more insight. It sounds adorable and I can’t wait to read it!

    • Hi Tasya!
      Oh absolutely. I totally related to her identity struggles, and even related to Amina’s best friend. It’s such a profound and memorable book!
      I hope you read this; I think you would love it!

  7. I do want to try this one because it sounds amazing and your review is so glowing and lovely ahh!! I’m just a little nervous though because I generally don’t do so well with MG? But if the protagonist is so well written i’m sure I’ll love it. :) This is such a great review!

    • Hiya Cait!
      Aw yes! You must give it a try. It’s truly a lovely book and great to start with if you’re just easing into MG.
      I totally understand your apprehension! I wasn’t big on MG before I started reading it more regularly, but I think, when you read a good one, you’ll see the magic!

      Out of curiousity, what MG book have you read? Any I should avoid? :s

  8. Pingback: Book Recs: Diverse Middle Grade Books | Read, Think, Ponder

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