Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Huda F. Are You?

Fahmy, Huda. Huda F. Are You?
November 23rd 2021 by Dial Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Huda and her family move from a town where there are few Muslims to Dearborn, Michigan. Before, her identity was tied strongly to the fact that she was the only hijabi girl, but in Dearborn there are so many others that this doesn't set her apart at all. She settles into school and attending halaqa on Friday nights (religion class similar to Confirmation Class or the mysterious Catholic CCD that none of my friends could ever explain), but doesn't feel that she can pin down her own identity. She does find a new friend in Nabz, so she has a confidant, which is important when she has a crush on a nonMuslim boy who seems interested in her but who is more interested in her religion. Huda struggles with all of the "rules" of being Muslim, trying to figure out which ones to follow just to make her parents happy, and which ones make her happy because they align with her religious views. She struggles with learning more about her culture, dealing with teachers who can't pronounce her name, and coming to terms with the treatment of Muslims in the US. Will Huda be able to carve out a place for herself in her family, her school, and the community at large?
Strengths: Graphic novel publication has increased to the point where it is necessary (and possible) to diversify the collection by genre and representation. Aside from the very emotionally fraught Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin's Hijab, I don't know that there is another middle grade novel with a hijabi main character. Personal identity is such a huge concern to middle school students, so I am always interested in stories where characters are trying to figure out who they are and where their interests lie. As someone who spent an inordinate amount of time in church and church groups in middle school, I think there should be a few more representations of children in religious settings, even though (or perhaps especially because) my middle school church experience fueled the fires of my disbelief. The illustration style is fresh and colorful. This book will never make it back to the shelves. 
Weaknesses: I, like Ms. Fahmy's mother, am not a huge fan of the title, even though it is very clever.
What I really think: I will definitely purchase this, although I would love to see some more literature about Muslims from other parts of the world. The Pakistani diaspora is well represented, but I have more students with Somalian background, and struggle to find books that represent their culture.

It's always fun when I hear an author who writes for young people on NPR! Here's a nice interview with Ms. Fahmy

Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. I did a double-take at the title, and then wondered if it was intentional or a very bad mistake, and then realized it had to be intentional! It's pretty funny, I have to admit.

    Great to see more representation of every-day religious experience in literature for kids: it's been invisible for so long, almost as though it's taboo, despite a pretty big chunk of the population still being actively religious. As you point out, experience with religion is as widely diverse as religions themselves, and it's important to recognize that no religion is a monolith.

    (Hmm, didn't realize I was so passionate about that topic! Guess I should go read this graphic novel!)