Mock Newbery Nominee: Amina's Voice by Hena Khan

In the seventh week of our Mock Newbery summaries and reviews we'll look at Amina's Voice by Hena Khan. This slice of life story is all about overcoming fears, growing up, and the importance of 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." -From the publisher

The greatest strengths of Amina's Voice are the themes of change and community that run throughout the story. Amina knows she sings well, but doesn't want to risk the public humiliation of freezing up again on stage. After dealing with instances of bullying and name-calling, Amina doesn't always feel comfortable at school, but having a best friend from another minority culture helps. She's not ready for Soojin's new friendliness with an old adversary, but eventually realizes people change and that she can too.

Amina feels much more comfortable at her mosque as a part of the Muslim community, even if she doesn't love going to Sunday school and can't pronounce the Arabic recitations perfectly. But challenges arise with a visiting uncle and Quran recitation competition, forcing her out of her comfort zone here too. When the mosque is vandalized, the tragedy brings everyone together. Amina finds the words to apologize to Soojin and Emily, and they find ways to help repair the mosque. With the Quran competition and school concert now helping to raise funds for mosque repair, Amina finally moves past her stage fright and finds her voice here too.

I hope you'll give this expressive book a read, and maybe even your vote. Visit our Kid's Page before January 31st if you're ready to choose your favorites or stay tuned next week for another summary and review if you're still debating.

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