More to the Story

By: Hena Khan

When Jameela Mirza is picked to be feature editor of her middle school newspaper, she’s one step closer to being an award-winning journalist like her late grandfather. The problem is, her editor-in-chief keeps shooting down her article ideas. Jameela’s assigned to write about the new boy in school, who has a cool British accent but doesn’t share much, and wonders how she’ll make his story gripping enough to enter into a national media contest.

Jameela, along with her three sisters, is devastated when their father needs to take a job overseas, away from their cozy Georgia home for six months. Missing him makes Jameela determined to write an epic article—one to make her dad extra proud. But when her younger sister gets seriously ill, Jameela’s world turns upside down. And as her hunger for fame looks like it might cost her a blossoming friendship, Jameela questions what matters most, and whether she’s cut out to be a journalist at all…

ISBN: 9781481492096

JLG Release: Nov 2019


Sensitive Areas: None
Topics: Family life , Newspapers , Middle schools , Pakistani Americans , Muslims , Atlanta, Georgia

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, Booklist, The Horn Book Magazine

School Library Journal

The Pakistani American Mirza sisters live in Norcross, GA, and each shares a first initial with one of the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Jameela, the heroine and narrator, feels less polished than her older sister, Maryam; less virtuous than her younger sister Bisma; and less patient than she should be with Aleeza, the younge The Pakistani American Mirza sisters live in Norcross, GA, and each shares a first initial with one of the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Jameela, the heroine and narrator, feels less polished than her older sister, Maryam; less virtuous than her younger sister Bisma; and less patient than she should be with Aleeza, the youngest. Jameela is most comfortable in her skin when she’s writing, and she plans to publish a story for her school paper that will make her father, who is overseas for a new job, proud. She is also delighted to make friends with Ali, the son of family friends, who has recently moved to Georgia. When Bisma is diagnosed with lymphoma and Jameela breaks Ali’s trust after publishing an off-the-record interview, she feels that she is losing her sister and a new friend in addition to her absent father. Jameela is a devoted journalist, and her curious, inquisitive voice makes her an engaging narrator. Simple, straightforward language will be accessible to middle grade readers, and the tone is informative but never didactic on topics such as journalism ethics. This is a positive and loving portrayal of a Muslim family, and details of Pakistani culture and Muslim observance are not given heavy-handed explanations, but are simply included as essential details of the Mirzas’ existence. Readers may be inspired to compare notes with Little Women, but can enjoy this without having met the March sisters. This thoughtful update of Alcott’s classic text features an American Muslim family and deftly balances issues such as microaggressions and cancer treatment with typical middle grade tropes such as sibling rivalry, a first crush, and an early adolescent search for identity.

Horn Book

In a novel inspired by Little Women, thirteen-year-old Pakistani American girl Jameela Mirza, second oldest of four sisters and an aspiring journalist, lives with her family in Atlanta. This Eid holiday has brought changes: their beloved father is missing Eid for the first time ever to look for a new job, and Ali, a (good-look-ing) nephew of In a novel inspired by Little Women, thirteen-year-old Pakistani American girl Jameela Mirza, second oldest of four sisters and an aspiring journalist, lives with her family in Atlanta. This Eid holiday has brought changes: their beloved father is missing Eid for the first time ever to look for a new job, and Ali, a (good-look-ing) nephew of a family friend, arrives from London. At school, Jameela is named newspaper features editor but is in constant conflict with the editor in chief, who never approves her hard-hitting pitches. When her father takes a job overseas, the family is distraught, and Jameela is determined to write an article that will make him proud. Her assigned piece on Ali goes awry, complicating her feelings for him and her journalistic aspirations. But when her younger sister, Bisma, is diagnosed with cancer, Jameela must reevaluate her priorities and figure out how she can truly support what matters. Khan (Amina’s Voice, rev. 3/17) tells the story of a modern-day Pakistani American family while retaining the charm, familial warmth, and appeal of Alcott’s classic (this novel’s first line is, “This is the worst Eid ever!”). Cultural norms about dating, clothing, food, and prayer in the fam-ily’s Atlanta community and overseas are subtly alluded to, while characters grow and impart valuable lessons without sounding overly didactic.

Book Details

ISBN

9781481492096

First Release

November 2019

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

F

Trim Size

5 1/2 x 8 1/2

Page Count

272

Accelerated Reader

Level 4.5; Points: 7;

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

Level 710L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Salaam Reads

Potentially Sensitive Areas

None

Topics

Family life, Newspapers, Middle schools, Pakistani Americans, Muslims, Atlanta, Georgia,

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Cover Art

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