For the new year, our main focus on this blog is to recommend more diverse reads and feature more ownvoices authors and marginalised groups. I recently posted on Twitter asking if people of the book community could recommend me some books featuring Muslim protagonists because it’s something I rarely come across and I was amazed at all the people who commented. So I’ve decided to make this post featuring the books that I was recommended and I want to thank the people who took the time to comment – I hope I make you proud with this post.
Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan
This is one of my current reads and although I haven’t finished yet, I can definitely say it deserves to be on this list. We follow the story of Leila, a high-school student struggling to make her Persian parents proud and also battling with a big secret: she’s a lesbian. Cue Saskia, a new girl from Europe who is confident, smart and beautiful and Leila finds herself falling head over heels and finds herself taking risks. This story is about Leila following her heart and coming to terms with who she is. She’s a hilarious protagonist and this is definitely a must read YA book.
Stained by Abda Khan
This novel follows the story of British-born Pakistani, Selina. Mourning over the recent loss of her father, grief is beginning to affect her studies and everyday life. When a family friend from the mosque offers to tutor her, he rapes her instead but in order to stop a scandal against her family, Selina must keep the crime a secret. It is the story of a brave young woman whose life has led to a horrific turn of events. Trigger warnings for this one but I’m definitely excited to meet Selina.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
An historical-fiction that takes place in 1970s Afghanistan. We follow the story of twelve-year-old Amir whose only goal is to win the local kite-fighting tournament with the help of his friend, Hassan. However, that afternoon Russians invade their town and Amir and his family must flee to America to stay alive. The young boy’s innocence is lost when he knows one day he must return to a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. An old but still important and heartbreaking novel that still has nothing quite like it.
Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson
Okay, if for some reason you weren’t already convinced to go and buy this just by looking at the cover, I can sum it up by saying it has a Muslim superhero!!! I mean? Need I say more? Okay. This is a comic book/graphic novel following the story of Kamala Khan, seemingly a normal young girl from Jersey City… right up until she develops superpowers. This is probably the most important graphic novel you’ll ever read and it’s only the first volume! Battling with her newfound gifts and the threat of an everlasting legacy, Kamala must become Ms. Marvel and basically, kick ass.
A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar
Told by Nidali, daughter of an Egyptian-Greek mother and a Palestinian father, A Map of Home follows her journey through childhood in Kuwait, her teenage years in Egypt where her family fled during the 1990 Iraqi invasion and her family’s last stop in Texas. It is her story of growing up in an eccentric family who never had the chance to stay still for long and despite their difficulties, Nidali still has typical teenage issues like being warned to stay away from boys by her father. This story shows what it would have been like to be an Egyptian-Palastinian girl in the 1970s. She’s a witty, clever and funny narrator and getting to see these countries through her eyes was something I’ve never been able to do in YA fiction.
Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik
A light-hearted contemporary novel following Sofia Khan who has recently sworn off men for good. Constantly unlucky in love, Sofia is persuaded by her boss to write an article about the Muslim dating scene. What follows is her journey as she goes on the hunt for stories from her friends, family and even racist tube passengers. Hilarious but important, this novel is a must read for all you contemporary fans who are suckers for a cute love story.
Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
An upcoming middle-grade novel (with the cutest cover ever) following the story of Pakistani-American Muslim girl, Amina. Struggling to stay true to her family’s culture whilst also trying to fit into school life, matters are made worse when a tragedy strikes her community. Everything is changing for Amina – even her best friend, Soojin who is crushing on one of the ‘cool’ girls and even thinking of changing her name to something more American. Can Amina stay true to herself but still fit in? Told by the sweetest narrator, this is a story of acceptance, culture and how one girl’s voice can bring together an entire community.
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
Okay, so G. Willow Wilson is the go-to author in this list but for good reason! This story follows ‘Alif’ (named after the first letter of the Arabic alphabet,) an Arab-Indian hacker working in an unnamed Middle Eastern security state. Jilted by his almost- wife and working day and night to shield his clients from watched groups, Alif puts his neck on the line as the head of state security is called and Alif must flee for his life all whilst remaining unseen. A tense science-fiction/fantasy novel where everything including our main character is a mystery.
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
A young-adult contemporary novel exploring the heartbreaking world of being forced into an unwanted marriage. Naila’s parents have always allowed her to study what she wants, wear what she wants etc but there is one thing they will decide – who she will marry. Everything is planned up until Naila, going against cultural tradition, falls in love with a boy called Saif. Absolutely furious, Naila’s parents send her to Pakistan to visit relatives and uncover her roots and everything is fine, until she discovers her parents have gone behind her back and arranged for her to get married. Will her destiny be chosen for her or will Saif find her in time?
She Wore Red Trainers by Na’ima B. Robert
Before I start, these cute covers are killing me. I mean? Okay, Angharad, focus. This young-adult contemporary follows the story of Ali and Amirah. Amirah notices everything about the beautiful Ali, her hijab, her long lashes and her red shoes. However life isn’t easy after the loss of his mother and now struggling with his identity as a Muslim. Previously vowing never to get married, Amirah can’t help how he feels when he sees Ali so will they overcome the odds and have a happy ever after? I hope so. This looks so lovely and light-hearted but still deals with important issues.
If you have any more recommendations or ideas of future recommendations we can do, let us know in the comments!