This list of Read in Color recommended reads explores experiences from the Muslim community. These titles are recommended by Little Free Library’s Diverse Books Advisory Group and others. The list of books includes options for early readers, middle and YA readers, and adults and advanced readers.
View all of the Read in Color Recommended Reading lists. These lists are far from exhaustive, but they offer a starting point for exploring different perspectives. We recognize that categorizing books can be limiting and are working to show the intersectionality within our reading lists.
Muslim (Early Readers)
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Amira's Picture Day
Amira’s Picture Day by Reem Faruqi, illustrated by Fahmida Azim (40 pp, Holiday House, 2021). Just the thought of Eid makes Amira warm and tingly inside. From wearing new clothes to handing out goody bags at the mosque, Amira can’t wait for the festivities to begin. But when a flier on the fridge catches her eye, Amira’s stomach goes cold. Not only is it Eid, it’s also school picture day. If she’s not in her class picture, how will her classmates remember her? Won’t her teacher wonder where she is? Ages 4-8.
In My Mosque
In My Mosque by M. O. Yuksel, illustrated by Hatem Aly (40 pp, HarperCollins, 2021). No matter who you are or where you’re from, everyone is welcome here. From grandmothers reading lines of the Qur’an and the imam telling stories of living as one, to meeting new friends and learning to help others, mosques are centers for friendship, community, and love. Ages 4-8.
Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story by Reem Faruqi, illustrated by Lea Lyon (32 pp, Tilbury House Publishers, 2015). Lailah is in a new school in a new country, thousands of miles from her old home, and missing her old friends. When Ramadan begins, she is excited that she is finally old enough to participate in the fasting but worried that her classmates won’t understand why she doesn’t join them in the lunchroom. Lailah solves her problem with help from the school librarian and her teacher and in doing so learns that she can make new friends who respect her beliefs. Ages 5-9.
Leila in Saffron
Leila in Saffron by Rukhsanna Guidroz, illustrated by Dinara Mirtalipova (32 pp, Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2019). When Leila looks in the mirror, she doesn’t know if she likes what she sees. But when her grandmother tells her the saffron beads on her scarf suit her, she feels a tiny bit better. So, Leila spends the rest of their family dinner night on the lookout for other parts of her she does like. Follow Leila’s journey as she uses her senses of sight, smell, taste, touch to seek out the characteristics that make up her unique identity, and finds reasons to feel proud of herself, just as she is. Ages 4-8.
Like the Moon Loves the Sky
Like the Moon Loves the Sky by Hena Khan, illustrated by Saffa Khan (40 pp, Chronicle Books, 2020). In this moving picture book, author Hena Khan shares her wishes for her children: “Inshallah you find wonder in birds as they fly. Inshallah you are loved, like the moon loves the sky.” With vibrant illustrations and prose inspired by the Quran, this charming picture book is a heartfelt and universal celebration of a parent’s unconditional love. Ages 3-5.
Malala's Magic Pencil
Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai, illustrated by Kerascoët (48 pp, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2017). As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true. Ages 4-8.
Meet Yasmin! by Saadia Faruqi, illustrated by Hatem Aly (96 pp, Picture Window Books, 2018). Meet Yasmin! Yasmin is a spirited second-grader who’s always on the lookout for those “aha” moments to help her solve life’s little problems. Taking inspiration from her surroundings and her big imagination, she boldly faces any situation, assuming her imagination doesn’t get too big, of course! A creative thinker and curious explorer, Yasmin and her multi-generational Pakistani American family will delight and inspire readers. Ages 5-8.
Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrated by Ebony Glenn (40 pp, Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018). A young girl plays dress up with her mother’s headscarves, feeling her mother’s love with every one she tries on. Charming and vibrant illustrations showcase the beauty of the diverse and welcoming community in this portrait of a young Muslim American girl’s life. Ages 4-8.
Muslim Girls Rise
Muslim Girls Rise: Inspirational Champions of Our Time by Saira Mir, illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel (48 pp, Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018). Discover the true stories of nineteen unstoppable Muslim women of the twenty-first century who have risen above challenges, doubts, and sometimes outright hostility to blaze trails in a wide range of fields. Whether it was the culinary arts, fashion, sports, government, science, entertainment, education, or activism, these women never took “no” for an answer or allowed themselves to be silenced. Instead, they worked to rise above and not only achieve their dreams, but become influential leaders. Ages 6 and up.
The Proudest Blue
The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad, with S. K. Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly (40 pp, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2019). With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab–a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong. Ages 4-8.
Sadiq and the Green Thumbs
Sadiq and the Green Thumbs by Siman Nuurali, illustrated by Anjan Sarkar (64 pp, Picture Window Books, 2019). When Sadiq’s Dugsi teacher can’t take care of his yard because of an injury, Sadiq reluctantly agrees to help out. To make it more fun, Sadiq gathers together some friends to help. Can they care for their teacher’s garden and have fun at the same time? Ages 6-8.
Salma the Syrian Chef
Salma the Syrian Chef by Danny Ramadan, illustrated by Anna Bron (40 pp, Annick Press, 2020). All Salma wants is to make her mama smile again. Between English classes, job interviews, and missing Papa back in Syria, Mama always seems busy or sad. A homemade Syrian meal might cheer her up, but Salma doesn’t know the recipe, or what to call the vegetables in English, or where to find the right spices! Luckily, the staff and other newcomers in her Welcome Home are happy to lend a hand—and a sprinkle of sumac. Ages 4-7.
Under My Hijab
Under My Hijab by Hena Khan, illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel (32 pp, Lee & Low Books, 2019). Grandma wears it clasped under her chin. Aunty pins hers up with a beautiful brooch. Jenna puts it under a sun hat when she hikes. Zara styles hers to match her outfit. As a young girl observes six very different women in her life who each wear the hijab in a unique way, she also dreams of the rich possibilities of her own future, and how she will express her own personality through her hijab. Written in sprightly rhyme and illustrated by a talented newcomer, Under My Hijab honors the diverse lives of contemporary Muslim women and girls, their love for each other, and their pride in their culture and faith. Ages 4-7.
What Color Is My Hijab?
What Color Is My Hijab? by Hudda Ibrahim, illustrated by Meenal Patel (30 pp, Beaver’s Pond Press, 2020). A children’s “learn your colors” book where a Muslim girl chooses what color hijab she’ll wear today! Ages 4-8.
Muslim (Middle Readers)
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Amina’s Song by Hena Khan (288 pp, Salam Reads, 2021). It’s the last few days of her vacation in Pakistan, and Amina has loved every minute of it. The food, the shops, the time she’s spent with her family—all of it holds a special place in Amina’s heart. Now that the school year is starting again, she’s sad to leave, but also excited to share the wonders of Pakistan with her friends back in Greendale. After she’s home, though, her friends don’t seem overly interested in her trip. And when she decides to do a presentation on Pakistani hero Malala Yousafzai, her classmates focus on the worst parts of the story. How can Amina share the beauty of Pakistan when no one wants to listen? 8-12.
Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed (240 pp, Puffin Books, 2020). Twelve-year-old Amal’s dream of becoming a teacher one day is dashed in an instant when she accidentally insults a member of her Pakistani village’s ruling family. As punishment for her behavior, she is forced to leave her heartbroken family behind and go work at their estate. Amal summons her courage and begins navigating the complex rules of life as a servant, with all its attendant jealousies and pecking-order woes. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s increasing awareness of the deadly measures the Khan family will go to in order to stay in control. It’s clear that their hold over her village will never loosen as long as everyone is too afraid to challenge them—so if Amal is to have any chance of ensuring her loved ones’ safety and winning back her freedom, she must find a way to work with the other servants to make it happen. Ages 10-13.
Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan (208 pp, Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018). Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized. Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani-American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other. Ages 8-12.
A Thousand Questions
A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi (320 pp, Quill Tree Books, 2020). Mimi is not thrilled to be spending her summer in Karachi, Pakistan, with grandparents she’s never met. Secretly, she wishes to find her long-absent father, and plans to write to him in her beautiful new journal. The cook’s daughter, Sakina, still hasn’t told her parents that she’ll be accepted to school only if she can improve her English test score—but then, how could her family possibly afford to lose the money she earns working with her Abba in a rich family’s kitchen? Although the girls seem totally incompatible at first, as the summer goes on, Sakina and Mimi realize that they have plenty in common—and that they each need the other to get what they want most. Ages 8-12.
Internment by Samira Ahmed (400 pp, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020). Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens. With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the camp’s Director and his guards. Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today. Ages 12 and up.
The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali
The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan (336 pp, Scholastic, 2019). Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali has always been fascinated by the universe around her and the laws of physics that keep everything in order. But her life at home isn’t so absolute. Unable to come out to her conservative Muslim parents, she keeps that part of her identity hidden. And that means keeping her girlfriend, Ariana, a secret from them too. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life at home and a fresh start at Caltech in the fall. But when Rukhsana’s mom catches her and Ariana together, her future begins to collapse around her. Devastated and confused, Rukhsana’s parents whisk her off to stay with their extended family in Bangladesh where, along with the loving arms of her grandmother and cousins, she is met with a world of arranged marriages, religious tradition, and intolerance. Fortunately, Rukhsana finds allies along the way and, through reading her grandmother’s old diary, finds the courage to take control of her future and fight for her love. Ages 14 and up.
The Night Diary
The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani (288 pp, Puffin Books, 2019). It’s 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders. Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn’t know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it’s too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home. The journey is long, difficult, and dangerous, and after losing her mother as a baby, Nisha can’t imagine losing her homeland, too. Told through Nisha’s letters to her mother, The Night Diary is a heartfelt story of one girl’s search for home, for her own identity…and for a hopeful future. Ages 8-12.
Once Upon an Eid
Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed (304 pp, Harry N. Abrams, 2020). Once Upon an Eid is a collection of short stories that showcases the most brilliant Muslim voices writing today, all about the most joyful holiday of the year: Eid! Eid: The short, single-syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it’s waking up to the sound of frying samosas or the comfort of bean pie, maybe it’s the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it’s the gift giving and holiday parties to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy. Ages 8-12.
Other Words for Home
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga (352 pp, Balzer + Bray, 2019). Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives. At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is. Ages 8-12.
Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet
Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet by Zanib Mian (224 pp, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2020). Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives. At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is. Ages 8-12.
Saints and Misfits
Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali (336 pp, Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018). There are three kinds of people in my world: 1. Saints, those special people moving the world forward. Sometimes you glaze over them. Or, at least, I do. They’re in your face so much, you can’t see them, like how you can’t see your nose. 2. Misfits, people who don’t belong. Like me—the way I don’t fit into Dad’s brand-new family or in the leftover one composed of Mom and my older brother, Mama’s-Boy-Muhammad. Also, there’s Jeremy and me. Misfits. Because although, alliteratively speaking, Janna and Jeremy sound good together, we don’t go together. Same planet, different worlds. But sometimes worlds collide and beautiful things happen, right? 3. Monsters. Well, monsters wearing saint masks, like in Flannery O’Connor’s stories. Like the monster at my mosque. People think he’s holy, untouchable, but nobody has seen under the mask. Ages 14 and up.
A Very Large Expanse of Sea
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi (336 pp, HarperCollins, 2019). It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped. Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother. But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down. Ages 13-17.
When Stars Are Scattered
When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed (264 pp, Dial Books, 2020). Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future … but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day. Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It’s an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story. Ages 9-12.
Zara Hossain Is Here
Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Khan (256 pp, Scholastic, 2021). Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years. But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it. Ages 14 and up.
Muslim (Adult Readers)
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A Place for Us
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza (377 pp, SJP for Hogarth, 2018). As an Indian wedding gathers a family back together, parents Rafiq and Layla must reckon with the choices their children have made. There is Hadia: their headstrong, eldest daughter, whose marriage is a match of love and not tradition. Huda, the middle child, determined to follow in her sister’s footsteps. And lastly, their estranged son, Amar, who returns to the family fold for the first time in three years to take his place as brother of the bride. What secrets and betrayals have caused this close-knit family to fracture? Can Amar find his way back to the people who know and love him best? A Place for Us takes us back to the beginning of this family’s life: from the bonds that bring them together, to the differences that pull them apart.
A Woman Is No Man
A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum (352 pp, Harper, 2019). In her debut novel Etaf Rum tells the story of three generations of Palestinian-American women struggling to express their individual desires within the confines of their Arab culture in the wake of shocking intimate violence in their community—a story of culture and honor, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. Set in an America at once foreign to many and staggeringly close at hand, A Woman Is No Man is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect.
Ayesha at Last
Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin (368 pp, Berkley, 2019). A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love. Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid, who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and who dresses like he belongs in the seventh century. When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.
The Beauty of Your Face
The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah (312 pp, W. W. Norton & Company, 2020). A uniquely American story told in powerful, evocative prose, The Beauty of Your Face navigates a country growing ever more divided. Afaf Rahman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, is the principal of Nurrideen School for Girls, a Muslim school in the Chicago suburbs. One morning, a shooter―radicalized by the online alt-right―attacks the school. As Afaf listens to his terrifying progress, we are swept back through her memories: the bigotry she faced as a child, her mother’s dreams of returning to Palestine, and the devastating disappearance of her older sister that tore her family apart. Still, there is the sweetness of the music from her father’s oud, and the hope and community Afaf finally finds in Islam.
Call Me American
Call Me American: A Memoir by Abdi Nor Iftin (320 pp, Vintage, 2019). Abdi Nor Iftin first fell in love with America from afar. As a child, he learned English by listening to American pop and watching action films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. When U.S. marines landed in Mogadishu to take on the warlords, Abdi cheered the arrival of these Americans, who seemed as heroic as those of the movies. Sporting American clothes and dance moves, he became known around Mogadishu as Abdi American, but when the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab rose to power in 2006, it became dangerous to celebrate Western culture. In an amazing stroke of luck, Abdi won entrance to the U.S. in the annual visa lottery, though his route to America did not come easily. Now a proud resident of Maine, on the path to citizenship, Abdi Nor Iftin’s dramatic, deeply stirring memoir is truly a story for our time: a vivid reminder of why America still beckons to those looking to make a better life.
The Complete Persepolis
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (341 pp, Pantheon, 2007). Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom—Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (256 pp, Riverhead Books, 2018). In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through…. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, Exit West tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.
Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar (368 pp, Little, Brown and Company, 2020). A deeply personal work about identity and belonging in a nation coming apart at the seams, Homeland Elegies blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of longing and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, part picaresque novel, at its heart it is the story of a father, a son, and the country they both call home. Ayad Akhtar forges a new narrative voice to capture a country in which debt has ruined countless lives and the gods of finance rule, where immigrants live in fear, and where the nation’s unhealed wounds wreak havoc around the world. Akhtar attempts to make sense of it all through the lens of a story about one family, from a heartland town in America to palatial suites in Central Europe to guerrilla lookouts in the mountains of Afghanistan, and spares no one—least of all himself—in the process.
A Map of Home
A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar (464 pp, Balzer + Bray, 2017). In this fresh, funny, and fearless debut novel, Randa Jarrar chronicles the coming-of-age of Nidali, one of the most unique and irrepressible narrators in contemporary fiction. Born in 1970s Boston to an Egyptian-Greek mother and a Palestinian father, the rebellious Nidali—whose name is a feminization of the word “struggle”—soon moves to a very different life in Kuwait. There the family leads a mildly eccentric middle-class existence until the Iraqi invasion drives them first to Egypt and then to Texas. This critically acclaimed debut novel is set to capture the hearts of everyone who has ever wondered what their own map of home might look like.
The Royal Abduls
The Royal Abduls by Ramiza Shamoun Koya (304 pp, Forest Avenue Press, 2020). Ramiza Shamoun Koya’s debut novel follows the lives of an evolutionary biologist and her ten-year-old nephew in post-9/11 Washington, D.C. Omar’s mother is white, his first-generation American father never walks to talk about India or what it means to be Muslim, and Omar struggles to find a cultural identity that fits. When Amina arrives from the West Coast for a hybrid zone lab job, Omar’s parents begin relying on her for childcare. Despite the demands of her male-dominated workplace and her preference for solitude, she becomes close to her nephew. As Amina’s hesitant romance with a Sikh cricket coach blossoms, Omar’s parents’ marriage fractures and leaves him vulnerable to finding answers in dangerous places.
The Thirty Names of Night
The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar (377 pp, SJP for Hogarth, 2018). Five years after a suspicious fire killed his ornithologist mother, a closeted Syrian American trans boy sheds his birth name and searches for a new one. He has been unable to paint since his mother’s ghost has begun to visit him each evening. As his grandmother’s sole caretaker, he spends his days cooped up in their apartment, avoiding his neighborhood masjid, his estranged sister, and even his best friend (who also happens to be his longtime crush). The only time he feels truly free is when he slips out at night to paint murals on buildings in the once-thriving Manhattan neighborhood known as Little Syria…. Following his mother’s ghost, he uncovers the silences kept in the name of survival by his own community, his own family, and within himself, and discovers the family that was there all along.
We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders
We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders: A Memoir of Love and Resistance by Linda Sarsour (272 pp, 37 Ink, 2020). Linda Sarsour, co-organizer of the Women’s March, shares an “unforgettable memoir” (Booklist) about how growing up Palestinian Muslim American, feminist, and empowered moved her to become a globally recognized activist on behalf of marginalized communities across the country.