Summary: Amina’s Song
Amina’s Song is the sequel to Hena Khan’s Amina’s Voice. The book opens with Amina in Pakistan visiting family over the summer. She bonds with her cousin Zohra and her Thaya Jaan who had visited them in the States in Amina’s Voice. Amina falls in love with Pakistan, the culture, and of course, her people — and is sad when they have to return to the States. She promises her uncle that she’ll tell other people how wonderful Pakistan is.
When Amina arrives the States, she feels off, like she’s left a piece of herself in Pakistan and doesn’t fully belong in the States anymore — even if it is home. She tries to tell her friends about Pakistan and while they listen, their enthusiasm seems to wane quickly. She’s also struggling to write music and work with her mom to give back by helping immigrants in the community by helping them get settled.
Eventually, a school project leads Amina to make a presentation about Malala and she befriends a new boy in her school, who happens to make beats. Will she find a way to tell people about Pakistan while nurturing her passion for music?
I really liked Amina. She blossoms into a stronger and more memorable character than she was in the first book (which you don’t have to read first). Her voice is stronger and I could appreciate her friendships, as well as her relationship with her family better in this book.
I loved the Pakistan setting, much like in Faruqi’s A Thousand Questions. The food, the bustling markets, the family, the culture — it was all very well written. When Amina returns, her longing and struggle to reconfigure her identity will be familiar to multicultural kids or even third culture children who’ve moved around a lot. Amina’s class Wax Museum project where she acts as Malala Yousafzai was also fun, and very informative about inspiring women from Pakistan.
As is typical with Khan’s books, Amina’s faith is effortlessly woven into the story. Finally, I loved the music, friendship, and family connections in this book. I don’t think I’ve ever read a middle grade book with a character who produces music, like Amina’s friend, Nico (who is half-French and half Egyptian) does. Amina’s brother is also a fun older brother figure — an element I always enjoy, probably because I don’t have an older brother.
Overall: Amina’s Song
Amina’s Song is an enjoyable, insightful, and heartwarming middle grade book about family, culture, and music. Set both in Pakistan and the US, this book provides an immersive experience and joins the league of stories highlighting the folly of the single story (especially about third world countries). Throw in warm family dynamics and sweet friendships, it’s not hard to see why this sequel is a hit.
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I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.
More Book Reviews
- Red, White and Whole by Rajani LaRocca
- More to the Story by Hena Khan
- Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
Have you read this book or any others by Asian and Middle Eastern authors? Which ones are your favorite?