Amina's Voice

Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan



Amina is a Pakistani-American Muslim girl  who has always been happy in her midwest surburban life, surrounded by family, friends and a strong community. Suddenly she is faced with the changes of  adolescence, that lead her to question her identity.  She is not prepared for the uncertainty that middle school brings,  like when her best friend begins to hang out with one of the “popular” girls, or when she has to face her fears of performing in front of an audience.  She soon finds out that growing up brings more realities to deal with, like when her family’s mosque is the target of a hate crime.

Amina soon learns that finding her voice is important, both in being able to love and accept who she is, but also in her community ability to  find strength, hope and resilience.

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Text Structure: Novel
Lexile: 800L
Themes - Pakistani-American Life, Assimilation vs. Bi-Culturalism, identity/fitting in, community , friendship, self-love/acceptance, family

Rings of Culture Represented:

Ethnicity: Pakistani
Socioeconomic: middle class
Gender: girl
Age: Middle School
National: USA
Religion: Muslim

Why it’s VABBulous -

  • Hena Khan does a great job in writing a story about the complex and authentic identity of a young girl trying to love who she is culturally both as a Pakistani and an American.

  • the nuanced struggles of a brand new middle school/adolescent girl, make this a great choice for it’s attention to tween age culture.

  • She loves her family, culture and  traditions, but doesn’t want to go to school smelling like masala. This represents a common dilemma for many 2nd generation immigrants .  

  • Khan addresses the importance of elements of surface culture, such as food, dress, music, celebrations/rituals.

  • Khan connects  surface elements of culture  well to more nuanced cultural rules such as, rules of conduct, conversational patterns, ideals of child rearing and attitudes towards elders to name a few.

Set It Off (Into the text)

Anticipation/Reaction Guide + Stand & Deliver

  • America is a country that believes that everyone should be able to practice whatever religion they choose to.
  • Some religions are better than others.
  • You can judge a whole group by what a few members do.
  • Once you come to  America you should give up your other culture.
  • Community members should stand up for one another.
  • Women/girls have the same rights as men/boys..

Journal Prompt + Musical Shares

  • Choose One of the following prompts
  • Discuss something that you love to do/are good at,  but are afraid to do in public/in front of others?

  • Discuss something that you love and appreciate about your family/culture, and something that embarrasses you about your family/culture.

  • Discuss a time when you thought a friend was changing, or when you were growing apart.

Musical Shares

I gave this a 7-10 on Responsive Dots. What would you give it?


Lydia McClanahan