Monday, 15 April 2013

Review: 'the Garden of My Imaan' by Farhana Zia

The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia, 2013, Peachtree Publishers, $15.95, hardbound, 236 pages. Category/Genre: mainstream/religion. Cover: nicely done. Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million. 

This is a tender coming-of-age story told fromthe point of view of fifth grader Aliya, who is Muslim and of Indian descent. 

Aliya has a lot of typical problems for a girl her age: there's a bully at school who singles her out, there's a mean girl and her entourage who single her out, and Aliya's little brother is a tattle-tale. But she also has some problems that most of the other kids in her school don't have: because she's Muslim, she fears that people will single her out even more, and she'll become a target for ridicule. 

She's also trying to follow her faith without standing out. So: should she wear the hijab (a scarf tied around the head to show modesty) as some of her friends in church do? Should she fast on weekdays, when all the other kids at school would know? 

Then a new girl, Marwa, comes to school -- and wears the hijab and fasts every day during Ramadan. At first, Aliya thinks Marwa is drawing too much unwanted attention to herself. But as she spends more time with Marwa, Aliya   begins to see things in a different light. She begins to admire Marwa for her quiet confidence. 

Meanwhile, Aliya has two very important projects to work on, one for social studies class, and the other for her religious studies class in church. For the religious studies class, Aliya tries writing letters to Allah (God), and finds that this makes her feel good. But she doesn't seem to be developing and changing the way her teacher wants her to be. Not only that, but she has no idea what to do for her social studies project, which is supposed to help people embrace each other's differences. 

The story moves forward as Aliya looks deeper into herself and does begin to change and grow -- slowly, and realistically. 

This is an exceptional book, with humour, angst, and tension. The characters are true to life and likeable. 

Age range: 8-12. 

If you like this one, try: Suggestions?   

Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour!

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1 comment:

  1. What a lovely review of TGOMI. Thank you.
    Best wishes,
    Farhana Zia