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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that More to the Story, by Hena Khan (Amina's Voice), is an engaging re-imagining of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. The modern-day storyline features four Muslim sisters from Atlanta, who are part of a football-loving, pasta- and ice cream-eating Pakistani American family. Narrated by 13-year-old Jamela (Jam) Mirza, the novel, like Alcott's classic, is about the bonds of sisterhood, the ties that hold families together through tough times, and a girl who has big dreams for her future. When one sister falls seriously ill, Khan explains her illness and treatment to readers in an accessible, honest, and sensitive way.
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What's the story?
As MORE TO THE STORY begins, the Mirza family is celebrating Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims. For the family's four daughters (Maryam, Jam, Bisma, and Aleeza), it's the first Eid without their father, who's away interviewing for a new job. But things look up when their father's best friend arrives with his handsome nephew, Ali, who's just arrived from London and will be entering eighth grade at Jam's school. Jam's excited for school to begin, as she's been named Features editor of her school paper, a first for a seventh grader. She has big plans for making the paper more relevant to students and hopes this will be a big step toward her dream of becoming a journalist like her grandfather. When their father announces he's found a new job in Abu Dhabi and will be gone for six months, Jam and her sisters are heartbroken. Jam decides she'll write an article for the school paper that will make him proud, but the article goes terribly wrong. But all thoughts of Ali and Jam's problems at the paper are forgotten when one of the sisters falls seriously ill.
Is it any good?
Readers who loved the March sisters of Little Women are sure to be delighted by this warm and engaging contemporary retelling featuring four Pakistani American sisters. The Mirza family of More to the Story is faced with tough fictional challenges that may be real life challenges for some readers: a family member with a serious illness, a parent out of work and looking for a job.
Khan does a particularly good job at presenting the storyline about Bisma's illness. While never underplaying the seriousness of what Bisma faces, she takes readers step by step through her diagnosis and treatment, explaining things along the way in just enough detail to help them understand what's happening but never overwhelming them with hard-to-understand terminology.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how many things the Mirzas in More to the Story have in common with your own family. Which of the Mirza sisters is most like you or one of your sisters? Do you have something special you like to do with your father or mother?
Jam's parents won't allow her to use social media until she's in high school. Do you think this is a good idea? Or are her parents being too strict?
If your family had a newspaper like Jam's Mirza Memos, what stories would you put in the first issue?
- Author: Hena Khan
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters, Great Girl Role Models, Middle School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Salaam Reads
- Publication date: September 3, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 272
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: September 17, 2019
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For kids who love South Asian characters and family stories
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