Author: Hena Khan
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Publication Date: March 14th, 2017
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
GoodReads Summary: Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.
What I Think: I loved reading about Amina and her story but especially how her community comes together when her mosque is vandalized. I would definitely pair Amina's Voice with Wishtree and challenge students to think about how to learn about cultures that are different from their own and to make space for people of different cultures in their school or community. I've never visited a mosque before and reading Amina's Voice made me think how interesting it would be to be able to visit a mosque. I've never thought about asking a friend if I can go with them to their place of worship to learn more about it. I'm sure there are many other things I can think about that I've never experienced but that I could ask some of my friends to tell me about. The theme of acceptance stood out to me in Amina's Voice and it was really inspiring.
As a mentor text, the snatch of text I pulled is a perfect opportunity to look at how a writer can use dialogue to give the reader information about different characters even when writing from first person. The girls are part of this one conversation but they all are thinking different things and the dialogue helps the writer express this. We have to explicitly show students the power of dialogue. Amina's Voice gives an opportunity to zone in on dialogue and invite students to brainstorm two or more people in a scene and how their dialogue might reveal information about their character or their point of view.
Snatch of Text: "But Soojin just says, 'I'm thinking of new names for myself.'
'New names? That's weird. Why?' Emily starts a stream of questions. And as much as I want Emily to leave, I want to hear the answers.
'It's not weird at all, actually. My family and I are becoming citizens soon, and I'm going to change my name.'
'Wait. So that means you're not even American?' Emily sounds offended.
'What?' I ask. There is no way I heard Soojin right. 'Change your name? What for?'
Soojin smooths her hair, sips some fizzy juise, and takes a deep breath. 'We moved from Korea when I was four, and we aren't American citizens yet. but we are about to be, and I'm going to change my name. I just haven't picked one yet.'" (p. 7)
Writing Prompt: Write about how each or one of the characters might be feeling in this conversation using evidence from the excerpt to support your reasoning.