Sunday, December 27, 2020

All-American Muslim Girl, by Nadine Jolie Courtney

Caveat: I can't speak much to this book's sensitivity or accuracy from the standpoint of a Muslim American. I have a feeling that it will feel spot-on and empowering to some people and inaccurate and possibly misleading to others.  But I think that's the nature of any complex cultural/social/religious/racial subject.

I enjoyed the book.  It felt very different to have a teen character who wants to explore religion and gets MORE religious as the book goes.  It explores some very interesting topics:  Islamophobia and prejudice from outsiders, internal discord—and prejudice—from insiders, doctrinal debates, families that straddle cultural and language divides, etc.  There were some really nice lines about what it's like being a Muslim who doesn't look it, which makes her a "safe" receptable for other people's bigotry. 

The blurb did make me think it was going to be more about Wells' conservative xenophobic father being a barrier to Allie and Wells' relationship, so it felt slightly bait-and-switchy, but I probably enjoyed the story presented more than I would have enjoyed the one promised.  However, I did find Wells' father a darkly interesting character that could have been milked more, and the relationship between Wells and Allie felt a bit too easy.

For someone who has been judged so much, I did find Allie a bit judgy sometimes.  Especially with the last interaction with Emilia.

The pacing might be a little slow for some readers, and I could have done without some of the repetition.  It kept me reading, but not at a must-see-what-happens-next-right-now! speed. 

I thought the book was interesting, and I learned things and saw other things through a different perspective, which is so important.

I would read more by Nadine Jolie Courtney. 

Four Stars!

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