Summary: Barakah Beats
When Nimra joins public school after years in Islamic school, she’s not expecting to become 1/4th of Barakah Beats, a popular boy band in her school. But that’s what happens. When her BFF (at least to Nimra) stops acting so BFF-y after Nimra decides to wear her hijab to public school, Nimra is desperate to keep their friendship. Even if it means joining a boy band when it conflicts with her Islamic beliefs. Can Nimra find a way to use her voice without going against her values or hurting her new friends and bandmates?
My favorite thing about this story is that it’s enjoyable to read and Nimra is such a lovable, strong character. This is a unique middle grade book that centers Muslim faith and explores the different ways different Muslims approach their faith and integrate it with their lifestyles. Some wear hijab, others don’t. Some perform music and others don’t listen to secular music. Nimra’s family is more conservative and Nimra’s faith is important to her personally.
In the Author’s Note, author Maleeha Siddiqui expresses her desire to write for the kids who care about their faith and enjoy practicing it. Nimra and her band friends care about their Muslim faith even though they practice differently. Another major theme in this story is Nimra’s mother’s strained relationship with her grandmother (her mother’s mother) because Nimra’s mom chose a different path in life than her parents wanted.
Nimra is an only child and her parents obviously adore her. She loves art and drawing and they support her passions. Nimra also faces prejudice for wearing her hijab at school — even her best (and only friend initially) distances from her. But readers see why she chooses to wear the hijab and the inconveniences she faces despite wearing one proudly.
Overall: Barakah Beats
Barakah Beats is an engaging middle grade book about balancing your faith with your passions while finding your tribe. Young Nimra is a lovable Muslim protagonist who enjoys practicing her faith and gets caught up trying to hold on to a disintegrating friendship. Kids who enjoy drawing and books about arts and crafting will enjoy seeing Nimra pursue her art. This will also appeal to fans of middle grade books about music.