All-American Muslim Girl

Book review by
Lucinda Dyer, Common Sense Media
All-American Muslim Girl Book Poster Image
Captivating coming-of-age tale explores identity, racism.

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age 11+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

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 (a month of fasting, prayer, reflection), 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.

Positive Messages

While the path to discovering and embracing your true self may be difficult and challenging at times, it will be an exciting and rewarding journey.

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

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 in her life. Early on in the story, when her friends make Islamaphobic remarks, she sometimes remains silent. But as the story unfolds, she becomes an eloquent and thoughtful defender of her faith. A girl in Allie's study group comes out to her as a lesbian.

Violence
Sex

Some kisses.

Language

Characters use "crap" and "pissed" a couple of times.

Consumerism

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.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A few instances of adults drinking. Although Muslim, Allie's parents drink alcohol.

What 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's profiled on an airline flight, Allie begins to wonder if "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 grow complicated. She's hiding her studies from her father, who 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 Islamaphobic talk show hosts. Like Allie, the author's family are Muslims who came from Circassia, a part of Russia that lies along the Black Sea.

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Kid, 11 years old June 5, 2020

Good way of addressing the tough subjects

Okay, I really enjoyed this! I wasn’t really prepared for all of these harsh subjects when I read it, so you might want to talk to your kid about somethings, bu... Continue reading

What's the story?

The ALL AMERICAN MUSLIM GIRL is 16-year-old Allie Abraham. With her red hair and hazel eyes, she doesn't fit the stereotype of a young Muslim woman and easily fits into life at her new high school outside of Atlanta, becoming a JV cheerleader and joining the chorus and Quiz Bowl team. While the friends she's made are ethnically diverse, she's told none of them that her family is Muslim. When she begins dating Wells Henderson, he seems the perfect boyfriend (kind, smart, and handsome) until Allie discovers his father is a famous ultraconservative and Islamaphobic talk show host. Views that Wells is adamant he doesn't share. Allie's father has always advised her to keep being Muslim on the down low, that it's safer for her if people don't know. But after he's almost thrown off a flight because a passenger hears him speaking in Arabic and some classmates make remarks about all Muslims being terrorists, she begins to question whether she's turned her back on her heritage. Her family's never been religious and Allie knows almost nothing about Islam, so she joins a group of girls who're studying the Qur'an and makes begins making friends with other Muslim students at her school. She trades in her signature retro style for longer skirts and more modest tops and has spirited discussions with girls in her study group about what is and isn't appropriate behavior when dating. Allie's also caught up in a web of secrets. Her mother knows about her studies, but they haven't told her father, who she's certain will disapprove. And while Allie's told Wells she's Muslim, who knows what will happen when his father finds out?

 

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 Islamaphobia, white privilege, and feminism.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what they learned about Islam in All American Muslim Girl. Were you surprised that the girls in Allie's study group had such diverse views about dating and the role of women in Islam? Do you agree with Allie's father that people are often frightened of things they don't understand and this fear can bring out the worst in them?

  • Would you date someone who never wanted to do more than hold hands and exchange a few kisses? Do you agree with Allie that having boundaries like this gives you a chance to really get to know someone?

  • What would you do if you found out a good friend's father was a racist? If, like Allie, you were invited to dinner at your friend's home, would you keep silent if their father began to talk in a disparaging way about certain groups of people or would you speak up?

Book details

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