Once in a while I find myself reading along, thinking “oh, this is nice realistic middle grade… problems to be solved, problems solved… everyone learns something… and we’re good.” I’m waiting for predictable things to happen, and then when they happen, they’re somehow not quite as predictable as they seemed in my head.
Amina and her friends and family are so well and lightly drawn – little details scattered here and there which highlight who they really are—that an otherwise predictable story floats along for a while. Then you realize there is more to all of this than making new friends and keeping the old. Hena Khan managed to sprinkle in things about Amina and her friends’ families and cultures which further the story instead of falling like heavy look! here’s the diversity part bricks.
And it’s genius, because the differences within all of our families are about who we are in all parts of our life – school, friendships, home – and life is complicated. I liked the book while I was reading it, but the more I think about it, the more I realize how special it is. Listen to this voice.
Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan