A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Allie takes readers along as she begins to discover and practice her faith. She starts reading the Qur'an (and quotes passages in the story), learns how to pray, celebrates her first Ramadan, and has spirited discussions with the other girls in her study group about women's rights in Islam and how to date (or not date) as a young Muslim woman. It should be noted, however, that Allie is just starting to learn about the religion. Information she shares with the reader -- along with the personal decisions she and other characters make -- shouldn't be taken as representative of an entire culture and religion. These nuances may be tricky for non-Muslim readers to navigate.
While the path to discovering and embracing your true self may be difficult and challenging at times, it will be an exciting journey. Have the courage to stand up for yourself and others. Communicate and be curious for rewarding outcomes.
Positive Role Models
Allie has the courage to stop hiding behind the false identity she's created for herself and begin searching for the person she wants to be going forward. Early on in the story, when her friends make Islamophobic remarks, she sometimes remains silent. But as the story unfolds, she becomes an eloquent and thoughtful defender of her faith. She may not always follow the guidance of peers who've been practicing Islam much longer than she has, but her journey is still in progress.
In a reversal of most stories that feature a Muslim American character grappling with culture clash, it's positive to see Allie trying to get closer with her faith rather than fixated on becoming "more American." Like the author, Allie has a White mother, originally Catholic, who converted to Islam and a Muslim Circassian-Syrian father who immigrated from Jordan (who doesn't actively practice). The Muslim American women who make up Allie's study group vary in religiosity and backgrounds: Fatima is Black, Shamsah is Indian and a lesbian, Samira is Malaysian, etc. True to the book's setting in Atlanta, Allie's classmates are also diverse: Joey is Black, Zadie is half-Mexican and has a girlfriend, and other Latino characters are mentioned in minor roles. Wells has anxiety and panic attacks.
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Violence & Scariness
A key character dies peacefully. A teen describes Muslims as "subhuman" and "evil," not knowing they're in the presence of a Muslim teen. A character says of Muslims, "It's like, why don't you just blow yourself up instead of taking other people with you?"
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A few chaste kisses. "A makeout session" is referenced but not described.
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A couple of uses of "crap" and "pissed." A teen describes Muslims as "subhuman" and "evil." Another says of Muslims in general (not directly to a person), "It's like, why don't you just blow yourself up instead of taking other people with you?"
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Products & Purchases
Lots of pop culture references. Allie and Wells are both fans of the Star Wars movies. Allie's Dad loves movie musicals (West Side Story, The Sound of Music). Characters watch Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and listen to Pearl Jam, The Beatles, and Foo Fighters. Digital references include "binge watching Netflix" and using Facebook and Instagram.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A few instances of adults drinking. Although Muslim, Allie's parents drink alcohol. A teen smokes a vape pen.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Nadine Jolie Courtney's All-American Muslim Girl is narrated by 16-year-old Allie Abraham. She's red-haired, hazel-eyed, and dating one of the most popular boys in her new high school outside of Atlanta. She's also Muslim, something she's never told any of her friends. But after an incident where her father is profiled on an airline flight, Allie begins to wonder whether "I'm just a cowardly traitor dipping into white privilege." She decides it's time to explore the faith she knows almost nothing about, studying the Qur'an with a group of girls and connecting with her school's Muslim Student Association. But then things get complicated. She's hiding her studies from her father, whom she's pretty certain would be opposed to the idea, and she's found out that her boyfriend's father is one of America's most conservative and Islamophobic talk show hosts. Like Allie, the author was born to a Muslim Jordanian father of Circassian and Syrian descent and a Catholic White mother who converted to Islam.
Is It Any Good?
This captivating coming-of-age story that challenges readers to consider what it means to be "American" while still embracing your own religious and cultural traditions. All-American Muslim Girl seamlessly integrates a familiar (and utterly charming) girl-and-boy-from-different-backgrounds romance with serious contemporary issues of Islamophobia, White privilege, and feminism.
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