Synopsis: It’s the last few days of her vacation in Pakistan, and Amina has loved every minute of it. The food, the shops, the time she’s spent with her family—all of it holds a special place in Amina’s heart. Now that the school year is starting again, she’s sad to leave, but also excited to share the wonders of Pakistan with her friends back in Greendale.
After she’s home, though, her friends don’t seem overly interested in her trip. And when she decides to do a presentation on Pakistani hero Malala Yousafzai, her classmates focus on the worst parts of the story. How can Amina share the beauty of Pakistan when no one wants to listen?
Thank you so much to Simon & Schuster for sending me an ARC copy of this book! Despite this being a child’s book, it was such a lovely read, and I’m so glad to see this type of book available for younger audiences!
The novel focuses on it’s titular character, Amina, and the process that she goes through concerning her identity. After spending a month in Lahore, Pakistan, with her family, she returns to the United States and starts thinking about how she can show pride in her heritage and in Pakistan. For a school project on historical figures who have impacted history, she decides to do Malala Yousafzai. When describing Malala’s history, students in her class being making disparaging comments about Pakistan, which is exactly the opposite of what Amina wanted her presentation to achieve. Finally, Amina decides to not just focus on Malala, but other Pakistani women throughout history who have achieved incredible things, such as becoming Prime Minister, climbing mountains, and her own cousin. I thought that this was a great resolution to the main conflict of the book. Amina didn’t compromise her goal of teaching others about Pakistan, and she also managed to make a great rebuttal against the racist remarks her peers were saying. Personally, it was also really nice to learn about these figures, who I will definitely be reading about more in the future.
This main plot, as well the some other minor ones surrounding it, set the stage for Amina to question her identity. She struggles to balance her Pakistani heritage with the realities of living in America, and for a while doesn’t fully understand where she belongs. Over the book, she never gives up her heritage and culture, and instead of doing what would be the easier thing, decides to teach others about it and share her experiences. It’s a great message for kids, both about being true to yourself and that you can rely on other people to work through your problems.
Another major subplot of the book is the health of her uncle, and dealing with illness in the family. While they are staying with him in Pakistan, we learn that he has had health issues in the past. After a positively lovely description of a market in Lahore and a temple, we get to see Amina interact with her family and learn about their traditions. When they return to the US, we see just how difficult it can be to have family so far away. While technology can make it easier in some ways, it can still be very difficult to feel so powerless. Seeing Amina learn how to deal with long distance relationships and do what she can to support her family in Pakistan was also really nice, and you get the sense that she’s grown in a lot of ways by the end of the book.
Overall, I think that this was a great children’s book. It really talks about important subjects while still being approachable for kids, and is written extremely well. I would highly recommend this book if you have children in your life who are between the ages of 8-12.
That’s all for now ducks! In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been posting much recently. That’s because I’m nearing the end of my masters degree and I’m in the middle of finishing my thesis!! I haven’t had much time to read or write anything else, but I’m hopeful that once I’m finish that things should be a little more regular here!
Anyways, thanks for your patience, and I’ll be back as soon as possible with another review!