Book Review: Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Amina is a Pakistani-American who has just started middle school with her best friend, a Korean-American, Soojin. Soojin is applying for American citizenship and has decided to change her name to sound more American. Soojin’s sudden refutation of identity causes a rift between the friends, which is further widened as Emily, a student who used to make fun of their cultural differences, tries to befriend the girls. As if Amina does not face enough stress and new feelings of jealously already, her strong-willed uncle from Pakistan decides to visit, her teacher pressures her to sing in the school concert—Amina never sings in public—and her Sunday school teacher and parents force her to enter a Quran competition for the local Islamic Center. Just as things cannot get any worse, Amina accidentally shares Emily’s secret crush, causing a trivial fight with her friends, and the local Islamic Center and mosque is vandalized.…

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Book Review: It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas

Zomorod (Cindy) has moved from place to place in America and back and forth between America and Iran for her father’s work. With a mother suffering from relocation depression–and who refuses to learn English–and the hardships of making friends each year as a foreigner, Zomorod is determined to embrace America and American culture. She reads Good Housekeeping to learn about Thanksgiving, dresses up for Halloween, and makes curious and empathetic friends who have similar interests. Just as life is full of water balloon fights and Bonnie Bell lip-gloss, though, Iran starts a revolution. Americans living in Iran are taken hostage and the new regime implements strict rules on women. With the changing relationship between Iran and America, Zomorod’s dad is fired from his job. Anti-Iranian sentiment and hate crimes envelope Zomorod’s world, and her family fears for their family’s safety back in Iran as well as their own. With no income, Zomorod’s…

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