Amina's Voice is an award winning novel by Hena Khan that tells the story of Amina, a Pakistani-American girl starting middle school and dealing with all the challenges of growing up while grappling with bigotry in her school and community. It is a powerful story that speaks to universal struggles middle schoolers face navigating friendships and family dynamics while also exposing the many acts of prejudice students of color experience. Simultaneously, Amina's Voice beautifully highlights the ways in which diverse communities can come together to support each other and create change.
Students can summarize and illustrate the plot of the story in a 6 cell storyboard highlighting the exposition and conflict, rising action, climax / turning point, falling action, and resolution.
AMINA'S VOICE by Hena Khan
EXPOSITION and CONFLICT
Amina is a Pakistani-American, Muslim girl starting middle school and facing many changes. Her best friend Soojin is acting differently, her older brother Mustafa is having a hard time staying out of trouble, and her very conservative uncle is coming to visit from Pakistan. Amina loves music, has a beautiful voice, and can play piano, but she struggles to speak up for herself and hates performing in front of others.
CLIMAX / TURNING POINT
Amina's best friend Soojin is Korean-American and is excited to get her citizenship and adopt a new "western sounding" name. Amina is surprised and saddened that Soojin would want to give up her name. Soojin has also been friendly with Emily, a girl who used to partake in the teasing other kids inflicted on Amina and Soojin for their culture.
Amina's mosque is holding a Quran recitation competition that her parents want her and her brother to enter. She refuses to perform a solo in her school's concert because she is so afraid of singing in public. Her friendship with Soojin crumbles due to her jealousy of Emily, and worst of all Amina overhears her uncle telling her father that Amina shouldn't sing and play music because it is haram and she’s better off practicing her Quran.
Amina's mosque is horribly vandalized in a hate crime. The building is burned and the beautiful and sacred things inside torn and destroyed. Her family and Muslim community are devastated at the loss. Everyone rallies together including the school and interfaith community to support them and help to rebuild. It is a beautiful show of solidarity.
To lift their spirits, Amina's parents encourage her to play piano for those gathered at their house. It brings great comfort to them in their grief and she is pleased to see that even Thaya Jaan appreciates it. Amina resolves her fight with Soojin and Emily. Emily's father donates his contracting skills to help rebuild and Soojin's church holds a fundraiser for the mosque as well as the Quran recitation competition which, to everyone's surprise, Mustafa wins!
Gaining renewed confidence through the support of the community and her success at the Quran recitation competition. Amina decides to perform the solo for her school's concert. Her teacher is thrilled and Amina stuns the audience with a soulful rendition of Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come".