Amina Khokar has never been one for raising her voice. Everyone who truly knows her--from her best friend Soojin to her Pakistani family--tells her that she’s a beautiful singer, but she’s never found the courage to perform in front of a crowd. Now less than ever, what with the visit of her strict uncle from Pakistan, who doesn’t believe music is good. And since she started middle school, Amina is less sure of herself. Her friend Soojin, who she always knew she could rely on before, wants to change her name to something more ‘American’, and is making new friends in the popular girls who have always made fun of Amina and Soojin and their cultural heritages. At least she still has her friends at the Islamic Center, who she sees on the weekends at Sunday School. But even that peace is shattered when someone breaks into it, shaking Amina to her core.
Amina’s world is changing fast. But maybe in the midst of it all, she’ll find the courage to raise her voice.
This is one of the (many!) books which have been on my reading list for years, and I'm so glad that I finally have! The story is inspiring and hopeful, and Amina is relatable and caring. I especially liked how Amina's struggle to adjust to middle school and her experiences with her family--especially Thaya Jaan--balance and contrast with each other, giving the story depth and complexity. Although I'm several years older than the main characters (and target audience), I felt a strong connection to all of the characters, especially Amina, whose dreams, fears, and growing courage feel deeply real. It's an excellent choice for book groups and fans of Grace Lin's The Year of the Dog or Meg Medina's Merci Suárez Changes Gears. I would highly recommend Amina's Voice to readers ages eight and up looking for a satisfying story about friendship, family, and growing up in a complicated world.