Rebels By Accident: Telling Muslim Girls’ Stories in Young Adult Fiction

“I don’t think there’s ever been a time in my life when I wanted to pray. My mom always made me think that as Muslims, we should. But as soon as I stopped caring about what Mom thought, I stopped praying altogether. But today—right now—I really want to pray.” (Rebels by Accident, p. 150) Rebels by Accident introduces us to Mariam, a 15-year-old Arab-American teenager who finds herself in jail after police raid a party she had crashed with her best friend, Deanna.  Her horrified parents punish he … [Read more...]

From Somalia with Love (and Heavy-Handedness)

I was really looking forward to reading this book, as I still love young adult fiction and was intrigued to see what a Muslim take on the genre would read like.From Somalia with Love focuses on 14-year-old Safia who lives with her Mum and two older brothers in the heart of the Somali community in East London. She spends most of her time with her extended family, writing poetry or with her best friend, Hamida. Then her father comes home after 12 years of being missing, presumed dead in … [Read more...]

Boy vs. Girl: “Pure” Islam or Purely Sanctimonious?

Na'ima B. Robert’s second book, “Boy vs. Girl” is set in a South Asian community in Britain. The two main characters, Farhana and Faraz, are sixteen-year-old twins trying to negotiate their identities as the children of Pakistani immigrants and as Muslims.  Robert attempts to tell the story of struggling with trying to find a sense of identity as a Muslim teenager.Farhana is perfect and ideal in every sense of the world. Not only is she described as looking like “Aishwarya Rai,” she is strong, … [Read more...]

More on Muslim Teens in Young Adult Fiction: Bifocal

In March, MMW ran a guest post by Özlem Sensoy and Elizabeth Marshall about representations of Muslim women and girls in young adult literature (part one, part two, and part three.)  The article focuses on stories, written by non-Muslim Western authors, of Muslim girls living in places like Afghanistan, and the kinds of images that are created through these novels.  In their introduction, they ask: "Does popular young adult fiction about Muslim girls build understanding or reinforce stereoty … [Read more...]

Smell of Success: a Review of Skunk Girl

Skunk Girl is Sheba Karim's first novel. It is told from the point of view of 16-year-old Nina Khan, self-described as "a Pakistani Muslim girl" and from a small white town in upstate New York. Although published in 2009, the story is set in approximately 1993.In a fast-paced, entertaining read, Nina narrates her life and drama as the only Pakistani and Muslim girl in her high school. She deals with worries about school and boys, as well body hair and strict parents.Karim keeps a … [Read more...]

“The Shadow Speaker” features Muslim protagonist of 2070

Who says young adult fiction about Muslim girls can only be contemporary or historical? Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu’s 2007 novel shows that Muslim teen lit can venture into the realm of the future.  Young adult novel The Shadow Speaker explores science fiction and fantasy with a story that plays out in a futuristic, magical universe with worlds beyond Earth. It does so starring a Muslim protagonist, 14- to 15-year-old Ejii Ugabe.In Ejji’s world, it is 2070. And instead of a futuristic Britain or Am … [Read more...]