By Hena Khan
Salaam Reads, 2017. Fiction.
Amina Khokar is a talented singer, probably the best one in her class, but she has had horrible stage fright ever since the "John Hancock incident." She does not want to perform a solo in her choir class performance and she does not want to compete in a Quaran recitation competition hosted by her Mosque - if she can't speak in front of people in English, how can she be expected to speak in Arabic? None of this is made any easier by the fact that her best friend Soojin wants to change her name to Susan, or that she wants to become friends with Emily who used to make fun of them, or that her uncle is visiting from Pakistan and might just realize Amina is not perfect.
Amina is a truly identifiable character. Her anxieties about performing in public, losing her friends, and disappointing her family are handled deftly by Khan in a way that will speak to a lot of kids. There are strong themes of individual values and what happens when those values clash with others' - especially those you love. This story of acceptance (of self and others) is a great choice for middle grade readers.