Amina’s Song by Hena Khan (2021)
Identity is a difficult part of life. As people, we want to be identified and have our culture be accepted. We want to feel close to our heritage and have that identity acknowledged. When people do not understand that identity or accept it, this can make people hide. This concept is even harder for someone younger. Imagine being 13 and so excited about your newfound love of your heritage only to have it feel as though it didn’t matter.
Amina struggles with this concept and more throughout Amina’s Song. Amina is a young girl just about to enter 7th grade. After returning from a month-long trip to Pakistan, she must readjust to life back in America; while still longing to be back in Pakistan. As she returns to school, she realizes that her friends are disinterested in her stories about her journeys over the summer.
When Nico, a new foreign exchange student comes to town, Amina quickly becomes friends with him, and together they use their talents for a songwriting assignment. Nico, being French- Egyptian, and Amina connect about what it is like to be attached to two different places in the world. Trying to show her heritage, Amina also dresses as Malala Yousafzi for a project, which has many people only seeing the negative parts of Malala’s story. Can Amina keep her culture alive while still maintaining her friendships?
Amina’s struggle with her Pakistani identity is touching and heartbreaking at the same time. The book is a brilliant tale of friendship and self-discovery while still holding onto the innocence of a child. Though the writing is a bit juvenile, there is an innocence to Amina that makes the book endearing. This story is a fantastic sequel to Amina’s Voice. Khan expertly continues the growth of Amina; while keeping the same tone and innocence of the last novel. Amina’s Song is well received and, it is no surprise as to why.