Cover Image: All-American Muslim Girl

All-American Muslim Girl

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Member Reviews

If there was ever a book that came closest to describing some my experience, it's this one. As an Arab person who appears white to the world, Ali is experiencing an identity crisis because she is often put in the position of people reading her as white and so justifying their bigoted remarks around her. Unlike myself, her name is not explicitly Arabic, which complicates this more. Her disconnectedness from Islam and the Arabic language is the sore spot between her and her dad, who insists on the scientific and assimilationist way of things, at the expense of Ali's cultural knowledge. Throw in some romance, a bigoted public personality, and some really important self-discovery and connection to her religion, this one nails it for me. The book was so engaging, and the character development was so important, I've recommended this one so much and will continue to do so.
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ALL-AMERICAN MUSLIM GIRL by Nadine Jolie Courtney is an #OwnVoices young adult novel which deals with colorism and religion.  The book begins powerfully with a scene on an airplane where the main character, teenager Allie Abraham, has to defuse another passenger's concern about Allie's Dad speaking Arabic on a phone call. Allie thinks, "Smiling is key. It confuses them. Anger ... indignation ... that's a luxury we don't have.”  Although Allie's Dad is often marked as different ("From Somewhere Else"), her heritage is Circassian so with reddish-blonde hair and hazel eyes, she looks like other light-skinned Muslims from the Caucasus region and is more readily accepted. That causes Allie to struggle with questions of identity, thinking: "Maybe I'm betraying my fellow Muslims by stuffing half of my identity away. Maybe I'm just a cowardly traitor dripping in white privilege." 

The author spends quite a while setting up the premise and introducing other characters, like Wells, a boyfriend for Allie, but the story gradually builds momentum and interest again as Allie decides to learn more about the Arabic language and the Qur'an, joining a small group of new friends to discuss Islam and women's rights. Allie struggles with maintaining friendships, with conflicts with her own parents, and with pressures from Wells' Dad, a kind of anti-immigrant "shock jock." In addition to many questions about being an ally, prejudice, and bias, middle school and early high school readers will find much to relate to here: "I've spent my entire life like an outsider: the perennial new girl, forever the tiniest bit out of sync." ALL-AMERICAN MUSLIM GIRL received multiple (Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly) starred reviews and I expect to see it on state award lists in the next few years.

On a related note, here is some information from School Library Journal, which in addition to promoting the We Need Diverse Books initiative, says "The American Library Association's 'Great Stories Club' series on Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation is a valuable resource. The reading and discussion program curates a list of books to help readers engage with the topic of racial healing. [Also,] We Stories is dedicated to encouraging white Americans to read diverse books with their children in order to decrease and counteract racial bias. Check out the facts and research on the ways children experience race to better understand how and why reading racially diverse titles for kids and teens can make such a big impact."

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See my review on YALSA;s The Hub, where it is a Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA21) nominee:
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I adored this fresh, thoughtful contemporary book.  Nuanced books about religion in YA are so rare, and this book does it so well.  Brimming with strong examples of female friendship, family, first love, and feminism, I know this is a book that so many will love.
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Allie Abraham is the only daughter of an immigrant professor in search of a tenure track position and an American mother, who have recently settled in yet another new town just outside of Atlanta.  Allie once again sets about fitting in with her new community, finding a group of friends and even beginning a relationship with a kind hearted new boyfriend.  Though her extended family from Jordan and elsewhere in the states are practicing Muslims, Allie’s parents have given up most of the practices of Islam in an effort to keep their family safe from suspicion in a post 9/11 world.  Ally can easily pass as an all American girl with her light complexion, she nevertheless feels left out as she is the only one of her extended network of cousins who does not practice the faith or speak Arabic.  After finding a young women’s prayer and Koran study group, she begins to explore her religion in earnest.  The book follows Allie as she comes to terms with the many layers of her life as a typical American teen while trying to reconcile her American culture with her growing Islamic faith.
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The injustice and frustrations expressed in this work made me furious. It was easy to connect to the main character and her story, but I was occasionally so fed up with what was happening I had to put it down. Overall, really well down and I'm excited to see what this author writes next.
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Alia is an American Muslim. Though her father and mother have not practiced their religion or exposed Allie to much about it, as a teen she wants to learn more. 

It's a bit complicated for her though, as her non-Muslim boyfriend's father is  a well-known TV commentator who does not like Muslims. And, of course, true Muslim girls aren't supposed to date. But, she joins a group of other Muslim girls exploring their heritage and tries to reconcile her American life with her religion. 

This is a good coming-of-age story that most young adults will enjoy, though the emphasis on religion may put some teens off.
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This book was SO good. Although a fictional story I felt like I learned so much about the Muslim culture by reading it. It was really enlightening while still being an easy to ready and enjoy book. I would definitely recommend.
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Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher and netgalley. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: All-American Muslim Girl

Author: Nadine Jolie Courtney

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Muslim main character and family!!

Publication Date: November 12, 2019

Genre: YA Contemporary

Recommended Age: 15+ (romance, racism, and self discovery)

Publisher: Farrer, Straus, and Giroux

Pages: 415

Amazon Link

Synopsis: Allie Abraham has it all going for her—she's a straight-A student, with good friends and a close-knit family, and she's dating cute, popular, and sweet Wells Henderson. One problem: Wells's father is Jack Henderson, America's most famous conservative shock jock...and Allie hasn't told Wells that her family is Muslim. It's not like Allie's religion is a secret, exactly. It's just that her parents don't practice and raised her to keep her Islamic heritage to herself. But as Allie witnesses ever-growing Islamophobia in her small town and across the nation, she begins to embrace her faith—studying it, practicing it, and facing hatred and misunderstanding for it. Who is Allie, if she sheds the façade of the "perfect" all-American girl? What does it mean to be a "Good Muslim?" And can a Muslim girl in America ever truly fit in?

ALL-AMERICAN MUSLIM GIRL is a relevant, relatable story of being caught between two worlds, and the struggles and hard-won joys of finding your place.

Review: I really loved this sweet book. It was an amazing book full of self discovery and how to deal with racism and people’s incorrect views on you and your religion/culture/skin color. I thought the characters were well developed, the romance was sweet and well paced, and the world building amazing. I loved how the author opened up with a racist event between Allie’s father on a plane… and while it was cringe worthy the book demanded that you face it as Allie and Muslims have to everyday. Definitely one of the most important books I’ve read in 2020.

The only issue I had, since I have to point out one to keep all of my reviews fair, is that the pacing did feel a bit slow in places and it dragged in a couple of tiny spots, but overall an amazingly well done novel!

Verdict: Worth the read!
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Aside from being important, impactful and interesting, it’s also very original. The plotline focuses on Allie Abraham’s growing connection to her religious and cultural heritage which is not always clear to her. But she is trying her best to figure out who she is and what Islam means to her. It’s very much a character-driven story. At the same time, there is conflict: Allie’s boyfriend’s father is a Muslim hater, and Allie isn’t sure how to negotiate the tension that comes with having a boyfriend who seems to accept her but who wants to please his anti-Muslim father.

Allie becomes strong. She is strong in the beginning as well but for different reasons. Becoming more familiar with Islam and Islamophobia in her city strengthens her as a young American Muslim girl and opens her eyes on the way people see her and the way she sees herself. Embracing her religious and cultural heritage is not easy for her, but in life, it’s the challenges that make us grow as a human being, not the shortcuts or the pleasant roads. Allie understands this well.
#allamericanmuslimgirl  #netgalley
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Allie usually loves her life and her family. Her mom is a Catholic who converted to Islam when she married her father, and her father is non practicing Muslim. Red haired and freckle faced Allie never had to deal with Islamophobia like her dad or her Muslim friends with hijabs.  
As her sophomore year progresses and political conversations creep into her daily life, she becomes curious about her religion. As Allie begins to explore religion, she also begins to fall for Wells, the son of a prominent TV personality known for his anti-Muslim rants. 
Allie’s simple life become filled with lies and half-truths as she tries to decide what she wants for herself.
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4/5 stars - For anyone who has ever struggled with their faith or struggled to figure out where they belong, you are not alone. That's the message of Nadine Jolie Courtney's novel All-American Muslim Girl. The story revolves around Allie, a high school sophomore, who on the outside really seems to fit in: She's popular, she's smart, she's involved in extra-curricular activities, she has a family that loves her dearly.
But on the inside, Allie doesn't feel like she belongs anywhere. When the novel opens, we learn that she is a non-practicing Muslim. Her dad immigrated to the United States for school and her mom is a white Muslim convert. But dad has really distanced himself both from his faith and culture. He has taught Allie that science is their religion, has not taught her any of the languages that he grew up speaking, and even changed his last name when he came to the US. All of this affects Allie: She can't converse with her grandmother because she hasn't learned Arabic. Mom's side of the family doesn't accept the religion that she isn't even practicing. She's curious about Islam, but doesn't feel like she can ask her dad about it. And because of both the current political climate and the fact that Allie can pass, dad has asked her to not let people know about her background. So even though she's pretty popular at school, she feels like all of those relationships are shallow because no one knows the real her.
So Allie starts to explore her faith and I found this so incredibly refreshing to read about. Her journey isn't smooth sailing. She struggles with her faith--a lot--and this was something that I could really identify with. What I loved most about this book was how Courtney shows that through her struggle, Allie's faith becomes stronger and deeper and at the end of the novel she realizes that she is enough just as she is.
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Allie is Muslim-- but she doesn't look it (her mom is white, and Allie takes after her), and because her parents don't practice, she's not familiar with the religion. But after a racist circumstance on an airplane where her father, a history professor who immigrated in the 90's, plus coming across the Muslim Student Association at her new school, Allie decides to start attending a Muslim study group with a handful of other Muslim girls. There, her curiosity is sated, her questions answered, and new questions pop up: ones about faith, ones about how her faith fits in with the social zeitgeist of America and being a teenager, and ones about the spectrum of progressive/fundamental religion. But not everything is hunky-dory. Allie is keeping her new-found faith from her father, who professes science to be his religion, and when he finds out, Allie knows their relationship will never be the same. And while Allie's boyfriend (wait, is dating allowed?!) is awesome (super accepting and willing to discuss how their relationship can work within Islam), his dad is not so great; he's a a fundamentalist pundit on cable tv... one of those guys who spout bigotry, extreme American nationalism, and hatred. How can /that/ work with Allie and Wells's relationship? There are so many bumps to being a teenager, being a Muslim, and being a Muslim teenager! Can Allie navigate them all?

THIS BOOK IS AWESOME! We need more books that examine religion through the "teenage lens"! I loved how relevant it is, how it addresses /so/ many of the myths and misunderstandings of Islam, and how Allie is thoughtful-- as is Wells. More, please!!
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While I enjoyed this novel, I did not necessarily find elements of it to be plausible. I think, though, it's important to show that Islamophobia is widespread and that not all Muslims look the way stereotypes might make some readers think they do.
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This was a beautiful Own Voices book that tackles important and complicated issues surrounding religion and identity through the lens of a character who is just trying to find her way in the world. It's a coming-of-age story aimed at teens but I think it's an important read for everyone. Some of the character choices were a little hard to understand, but overall it was a great read and I'd recommend it! Hope to see more from this author!
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This was an interesting read. I loved the premise, it was very intriguing reading about a different religion from this point of view. Allie was a likable character. As someone not familiar with this religion, it was a great insight. I liked this book, but wasn't overwhelmed by it.
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This book was truly SO good. I didn't really know what to expect going in but I came out of this with so much more knowledge than I went in with and even though it was extremely informative, it still managed to be a really entertaining read and I just enjoyed this one so much. Definitely consider adding this one to your TBRs!
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I really loved how the book started out. From the first chapter alone, I thought this was going to be a five star book for sure! Unfortunately, there were some things that I disliked that didn’t get resolved and ultimately brought down my enjoyment of this book. But we’ll get to that. First, let’s start with the things I really enjoyed.

From the start this book started tackling Islamophobia head on. I usually don’t remember how books start off, but I found the first chapter to be incredibly powerful. In it the main character Allie deals with an Islamophobic man on a plane ride with her parents. Right from the get-go the conversation becomes complex with Allie discussing how since she doesn’t look Muslim she has a lot of privilege that many Muslims aren’t afforded, including being able to de-escalate a tense situation.

And that was one of my favorite aspects of the book throughout. I enjoyed the nuance surrounding the discussion of religion and culture. There were so many explorations into the ideas of privilege and family and friendships and how people will perceive you in new lights because of stereotypes. There are even several instances that explore the ways people talk when they don’t realize you are the “other” they speak of. While at some points it felt like this book was dealing with a lot of complex issues at once, I think the book achieved a nice balance most of the time, by ensuring all the conversations were layered and dimensional.

Unfortunately, the characters were a miss for me. The main character and her love interest were 16, but the fact that they didn’t take a moment to stop and think, made me feel like they were a lot younger. In fact, I felt like all the characters refused to think about anyone but themselves, including Allie, her father, and her boyfriend. It was a common problem with all the characters that made them lose dimension since they all had the same struggle instead of having unique issues they were working on.

There were several times where a character would be struggling with an issue and another character’s response would immediately be to judge them, which always had the annoying effect of having a character simplify a complex issue. Many times when characters would get upset at one another, I wanted to scream at them about the underlying issue that they were so obviously missing. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone can’t manage to see a situation from an outsider’s perspective, so encountering it at every turn made me enjoy the book a lot less. The fact that I didn’t love the resolutions to many of these encounters made matters even worse.

I had some other little issues as well, but I chose only to  highlight the things that annoyed me the most. Unfortunately, because of some issues that dragged on through the book in too many areas, it wasn’t a new favorite like I thought it could be when I started it. However, I think this is a great book that discussed a ton of great issues, and for that reason alone I’d recommend it.
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While All-American Muslim Girl is about a girl discovering her Muslim faith, it has a broader appeal on a number of levels, particularly for teens of any faith who are experiencing or have experienced a religious awakening of their own. It’s easy to find many parallels here that further erase, or at least soften, the “us vs. them” mentality.

Author Nadine Jolie Courtney has walked a fine line with All-American Muslim Girl, which is first a novel, but serves as a sort of Islamic primer. Allie was born into a sort of “lapsed” Muslim family. Because of that, she lives on the periphery of her extended family. They love her unconditionally, but she often feels as if something is missing.

When Allie decides to explore her Islamic heritage, readers get a front-row seat. We learn as she learns, question as she questions and experience her inner turmoil as she grapples with broader societal issues like dating, sexuality and feminism. Add in Allie’s encounters with a condescending shock-jock, and you have the perfect setting to address common misconceptions.

There are a few small moments where all this feels a little too on-the-nose, but those instances are few and far between. What you have instead, is a poignant story of a girl who finds a way to live in two worlds while being true to herself.
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Thanks NetGalley for the preview!

This book was intricate and complicated.  I often felt conflicted along with Allie on what to think at certain story points.  I will admit I almost put the book down in frustration-none of the text message conversations showed in my copy so I felt I missed out on quite a bit of dialogue.  I learned a lot from this book and it also reminded me of things I already knew.  Religion is varied and everyone, even within the same religion, has different angles, opinions and beliefs.  Allie is finding her way and trying to figure out what works for her.
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