It’s hard enough to fit in without also having to decide whether to fast for Ramadan and wear the hijab.
Aliya already struggles with trying to fit in, feeling confident enough to talk to the cute boy, or brave enough to stand up to mean kids—the fact that she’s Muslim is just another part of her life. But then Marwa, a Moroccan girl who shares Aliya’s faith, if not her culture, moves to town. Marwa’s quiet confidence leads Aliya to wonder even more about who she is, what she believes, and where she fits in. In a series of letters to Allah she writes for a Sunday school project, Aliya explores her dreams and fears, hoping that with hard work and faith, something beautiful will grow in the garden of imaan—the small quiet place inside where belief unfolds, one petal at a time.
This award-winning novel from author and educator Farhana Zia captures the social and identity struggles of middle school with a fresh, new voice.
★ “Zia (Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-Ji) has deep insight into adolescent Muslim life and capably handles diversity within American Islam.” ―Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“The novel is at its best when depicting Aliya’s interactions with her grandmother and great-grandmother as well as comic incidents such as a halal turkey mix-up at Thanksgiving dinner. This would be a good addition for libraries serving Muslim populations; it also might be of interest to non-Muslim readers wanting to find out more about the religion’s everyday life and practices.” ―School Library Journal
“Zia’s gentle message—that Muslims come from many cultures whose observances differ, while the long shadow of 9/11 hovers over all—is timely and beautifully conveyed.” ―Kirkus Reviews
Parents’ Choice Recommended Award ―Parents’ Choice Foundation, 2013
Best Children’s Books of the Year ―Bank Street College of Education, 2014
Social Justice Literature Award ―Literacy and Social Justice Special Interest Group, International Reading Association, 2014
South Asia Book Award (Honor Book) ―South Asia National Outreach Consortium, 2014
Society of School Librarians International Book Awards (Honor Book, Language Arts Grades K-6 Novels) ―Society of School Librarians International, 2013
Kansas State Reading Circle Recommended Reading List (Intermediate) ―Kansas National Education Association, 2014
AR Level: 3.6
Themes: Faith, Indian Culture, Islam, Peer Pressure, Popularity
BISAC 1: JUV033030 JUVENILE FICTION / Religious / Other
BISAC 2: JUV039020 JUVENILE FICTION / Social Issues / Adolescence
BISAC 3: JUV014000 JUVENILE FICTION / Girls & Women