More to the Story

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Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers September 2019

From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes a new story inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic, Little Women, featuring four sisters from a modern American Muslim family living in Georgia.

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...--from the publisher

272 pages                                     978-1481492096                           Ages 8-12

Keywords: family, sisters, getting along, illness, fears, cancer, separation, diversity, diverse books, 8 year olds, 9 year olds, 10 year olds, 11 year olds, 12 year olds

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What's it like to hang out with a family that hails from Pakistan? Down in Georgia a Pakistani American family is dealing with some pretty familiar life challenges. Baba has found a new job but it's going to take him to Abu Dhabi for six months. It's been tough to make ends meet but now the family will have enough money. They just won't have Baba watching the Atlanta Falcon games and coming home from work every night.

The family consists of four sisters: Maryam the pretty one, Aleeza the youngest and messiest, Bisma the sweet one, and Jameela, the journalist who wants to write about the things that really matter in this world. The story is told through the experiences of Jameela. She wants to write a really great story for the school newspaper so she can send it to Baba and make him proud of her. She wants the story to matter and she wants to make a difference.

What Jameela comes up with is the idea of writing about microaggressions. She sees and hears them in the hallways and ballfields of her own school and she knows how hurtful they can be and how unaware some kids are about what they're saying about other people's cultures.

Then, her younger sister, Bisma, gets sick and Jameela and her other two sisters, start finding the importance of family, of loving each other and of figuring out what really matters and fighting for those things.

The power of this story is that you really are invited in to see how other people live. You will be privileged to watch their pain and their struggles and their courage and their strength. You will be privileged to hear how they talk to each other, how they treat each other and most importantly, how they show up for each other in the hard times.

Jameela is a bit of a tough chick but you'll respect her and you'll be glad she is using her brains and her talents to fight for a place for journalistic excellence even in middle school. The value of truth and of good information come forward here.

This family might not look like your family but you have a chance to cross the divide, to knock down the wall, and to put yourself in someone else's shoes and come to realize they really aren't that different at all in the ways that really count.

Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com

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