Review—An Acquaintance by Saba Syed

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When Sarah begins her senior year of high school, Jason is just the cute new soccer captain. But as they spend more and more time together, Sarah feels increasingly conflicted about the nature of their relationship. She still insists, however, that he is just “an acquaintance.”

I read through this compelling story in a single day. I couldn’t put it down until I found out what would happen to the characters, and when I finally did, I kept thinking about the complex themes Saba Syed explores through the life of a teenage girl.   Continue reading

Review—Pious & Professional by Sohair Omar

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I frequently browse the Publishing category on LaunchGood to see what exciting bookish projects people are working on.  I happened upon Pious & Professional about a month ago, and I was intrigued.

It’s a book full of advice for Muslim women on how to maintain their Islam in a professional environment. Organized into eleven chapters that cover topics like “The Ultimate Goal: To Please Allah” and “Prayer Breaks and Holidays,” the text reads like a list of bullet points about each topic with lots of Quran and hadeeth included. Continue reading

Review—A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

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An exquisitely written story about the members of an Indian-American Muslim family struggling to find a place to belong both at home and in the world

Rafiq and Layla want their children to honor the traditions of their own upbringings in India. That means arranged marriages, traditional gender roles, and preserving their image in the community. Rafiq is proud, harsh, and detached, and Layla, strong but silent, chooses to keep the peace rather than challenge him. Their three children are American born and raised and have their own expectations for life, but neither Rafiq nor Layla is willing to recognize the difference between themselves and their children. Hadia is the perfect, dependable older sister. Huda is the middle sister—religious and independent. Amar is their younger brother—bright and sensitive but always in trouble. While the family is tight-knit, the house is often a quiet, tense place, and the relationships and interactions are often toxic.

The novel opens at Hadia’s wedding, where she is (surprisingly) marrying a partner of her own choice. Amar’s presence at the wedding is the source of serious tension; he has been estranged from the family, and the wedding is the first time they have seen him in years. Continue reading

Review—Mr. Gamal’s Gratitude Glasses by Asmaa Hussein and illustrated by Nuria Tomas Mayolas

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Mr. Gamal’s students are grumpy. One lost her bouncy ball; another doesn’t like his lunch. Mr. Gamal wishes there was a way to help them be more positive. On the way home from school, he stops at the dollar store, one of his favorite places. Seeing a bin of funky colored glasses, he gets the idea that “gratitude glasses” might help his students see the world in a new light. Continue reading

Review—My First Book About the Qur’an by Sara Khan and illustrated by Ali Lodge

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My First Book About the Qur’an, written by Sara Khan and illustrated by Ali Lodge, is a colorful and whimsical board book that is a perfect introduction to Islam for every tiny Muslim. The simple, friendly words together with the bright, happy illustrations make this book a joy to read and share. Continue reading

Ramadan Readathon Book Tag

I’m doing my first tag today—the Ramadan Readathon Book Tag, which was created by Amna over at YA Reading Corner. This is a bit more personal than my usual book reviews, so I hope it’s a fun way to get to know one another a little better. 🙂

Ramadan Readathon Book Tag

~*Mirrors and Windows*~

Name a book that you felt represented you or that you were able to relate to.

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali is the first book that I read and was able to say: Yes! that’s the community I grew up in!

~*My Muslim Hero/Heroine*~

Name your favorite Muslim character and explain why.

Kamala Khan from the Ms. Marvel comic book series because she’s a badass with a good heart. What better combination?

~*Patience is a virtue*~

Name your most anticipated read by a Muslim author.

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin is a Pride and Prejudice reboot with Muslim characters. Uhhh, yes please! It comes out June 12 in Canada.

~*Muslim Scribe*~

Name your favorite Muslim author.

I don’t really have a favorite Muslim author. I read everything I can get my hands on, and will try everyone once, and most people twice. 🙂

~*The Muslim Shelf*~

Recommend one book by a Muslim author that everyone should read.

Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and illustrated by Ebony Glenn. Yes! A picture book! Because everyone can enjoy a gorgeously illustrated picture book, and this one shows the beauty and power of one of Islam’s most misunderstood symbols (the hijab.) I think it’s a fabulous tool for understanding and peace. 

Let me know your answers to any of these questions or if you’ve read any of the books I’ve mentioned.

Happy Ramadan!

Review—Yan’s Hajj by Fawzia Gilani and illustrated by Sophie Burrows

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Yan is a poor farmer who wants to go to hajj. But every time he saves up enough money and sets out, he meets someone in his path who needs his help.

He empties his money purse while on his journey three times, first to help repair a burned-down school, then to rescue a hurt and exploited boy, and finally, to build a mosque.  Each time, he simply goes back home and gets back to work to save more money. Eventually, he is old enough that he knows he won’t be able to save enough money again. But the good deeds he filled his life with have caught up with him, and the boy he rescued comes to take Yan to hajj. On this final journey, he sees the fruits of his labor: the school, the boy’s happy parents, and the mosque. Continue reading

Review—myDeen Magazine

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myDeen is a monthly magazine for Muslim children. I love that they produce three magazines every month, so that children of different age groups get a tailored experience. The age groups are 2–4 years, 5–7 years, and 8–11 years. Each month, all three magazines focus on a theme, so that siblings who subscribe to the different magazines can learn about the same topic, but in their own way.   

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Review—The Muslims by Ahmad Philips

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The Muslims is a graphic novel by Ahmad Philips. Printed in full color, this 8.5 x 11 book has five chapters, each of which focuses on one of the two children in the family: Hani and Huda.

The first chapter was pretty funny: I laughed out loud. In it, Hani does badly on a quiz that he forgot about. He learns his lesson and studies really hard next time, only to discover that he studied the wrong subject.   Continue reading