Friday, July 15, 2016

The Garden of My Imaan

The Garden of my Imaan
by Farhana Zia
230 pages; ages 9-12
Peachtree publishers, 2016 (paper)

Aliya already struggles with trying to fit in. She wants to talk to the cute boy; she wants to stand up to the bully. That she's Muslim is just another part of her life - homework for Sunday school, deciding whether (or not) to fast during Ramadan.

And then a new girl moves into town. Marwa won't eat the chicken nuggets in the cafeteria because they're not halal. She fasts during Ramadan. She wears a hijab. And now Aliya has questions about herself. Like every coming-of-age story, Aliya wonders who she is, what she believes, and how she fits in.

Hijab: should she wear one? Her friends who do say that it's just part of who they are - like a zebra wearing stripes. But Aliya hears stories about name-calling and people ripping hijab off girls at a school and in the mall. Even without a head scarf strangers have yelled things at her: "go back to the desert"; "drive a camel".

What I like about this book: it has a great inter-generational scenes, especially when a grand-aunt visits. She is quite demanding and Aliya must give up her room so Aunt can sleep well. I also like that the story challenges assumptions about Muslims. And that Aliya finds a way to cultivate her growing faith (Imaan) through writing (a diary filled with letters to Allah). I also like the story about the Mango tree... which reminds us that if we want to see fruit we have to do more than toss a seed onto the ground. We have to cultivate the garden.

Review copy provided by publisher.


  1. I hadn't heard of this book. It sounds like a good one. Thanks for the review.

  2. A Muslim version of Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret? She sounds like an appealing protagonist, and we definitely need more books like this that deal realistically with faith and different cultures.