Cover Image: All-American Muslim Girl

All-American Muslim Girl

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Reminded me a lot of Randa Abdel-Fattah's Does My Head Look Big In This? in its examination of being a religious teen - particularly a Muslim teen - in the current world, with two sets of values or cultural directives sometimes coming into conflict. The internal and familial conflict were well-played and realistic, and felt grounded in familiar YA ideas while still being original. The Islamophobia portrayed felt topical, and Allie's simultaneous relief at being able to avoid being targeted alongside her feeling of disconnection from the Muslim community was deeply understandable.

I really enjoyed the depiction of engaged teens having deep discussions of faith, and the spectrum of Muslim religiosity portrayed. I did find some of the lines of argument a little repetitive (the examples of feminism in Islam were repeated more than once) and some of the instances of Allie standing up to other characters regarding their bigotry felt like the sort of thing that could only happen in fiction where your opponents will stay silent and not try hard to rebut your arguments or shout you down.

I think my main issue was with the love plotline. Despite having a major character flaw - his avoidance of standing up to his father - Wells felt a little too perfect as a love interest. I feel like most teenage boys (and probably even adult men!) would not stay with in a new relationship that had so much pressure and tension, and later additional restrictions on their physical interactions (especially when they were added as something that their partner might feel strongly about but was just recently exploring). My eARC seemed to have issues displaying the text conversations, so maybe there was more there that would have shifted things a little, but the romance plot seemed too fast and too shallow for me to find it realistic or worthy of emotional investment.

The writing and story flowed nicely, and certainly an original addition to a YA collection while still appealing to the familiar.
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While boarding a plane to visit Dallas, Allie’s father begins to be harassed for speaking Arabic on the phone. Allie, Muslim herself but white-passing, calms down the situation, something that she’s used to doing. But that incident along with visiting her family in Dallas sparks a change in Allie. She’s never really explored her own religion, and for the first time, she wants to.

But at the same time, none of her friends at her newest school know that she’s Muslim. As she begins to see the world through a different lens, she begins confronting what it means to be a Muslim in America, to be white-passing, and to stay silent or speak up in the face of oppression. Add to the mix a boyfriend whose father has made a career out of hating Muslims, and Allie’s life becomes even more complicated.

This is an #ownvoices novel that explores deeply the idea of being Muslim in America and what it means to take ownership over who you really are. While this is a bit on the lengthier side, it’s a pretty fast-paced read, and it’s extremely high quality.

It’s one that so many people need to read.

All-American Muslim Girl releases November 12.
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Ali's father is of Jordanian/Syrian descent, and her mother is Anglo-American, so she doesn't "look" Muslim. Fair, with reddish hair, she sometimes has to diffuse situations in public when her father comes under scrutiny. Even though her extended family embraces their background and her cousins speak Circassian and Arabic, Ali's family is areligious and not concerned with cultural traditions. While this makes it easy for Ali to "pass", she feels guilty about denying her heritage, and wishes that she could communicate more with her grandmother. In her sophomore year of high school, she's trying to establish herself at yet another new school, since she's moved around a lot with her college professor father's job. She has a bit of a crush on Jack Wells, and he seems to return it, which is a pleasant, giddy feeling. When she connects with Dua, who is raising money for Syrian refugees as part of a Muslim student group, Ali starts to question her own actions. Should she stand up to people who make comments about Muslims in her presence, since they don't suspect the comments affect her directly? She joins a Qu'ran study group and even experiments with wearing a hijab, but matters are complicated when she starts to date Jack. He's a great guy, but his father is an anti-Muslim political pundit. Not only that, but her own father doesn't really support her investigation into religion and culture. What face does Ali want to present to the world, and how will her decision affect her life? 
Strengths: This is worth buying if only for Ali's interactions with an Islamophobic passenger on the airplane. Since this is YA, it's not as plot driven as what I usually read, but all of the characters are interesting. Ali's journey of figuring out her identity will ring true with many readers, and the romance with Jack is a bonus!
Weaknesses: For middle grade readers, some of the in-depth discussion on religion and politics will not be overly appealing-- it slows down the story. It's great for high school readers, but some younger readers seem to like more action. 
What I really think: I will buy a copy of this for some of my older readers who like Sarah Dessen and Kacey West, although I rather wish it had a photo or drawing of Ali in a hijab on the cover. I have a lot of avid readers of Somali descent who don't often see hijabis on the covers of books and seem to really enjoy finding them!
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I LOVE THIS BOOK! This is an awesome representation of what it means to be young, female, and Muslim. I adored watching the MC find her way and discover what religion means to her- all while she navigates family, identity, romance, and friendship. The relationships are complex and interesting, and all teen readers will be able to relate. Readers will also learn about Muslim culture- this book taught me a lot I didn't know. I'm better able to understand my library's Muslim population after learning a little more about their culture from this book!
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The thing about American, is that you are often welcome to come and live, and work, and raise your family and all, but you should "fit in", if you want to make friends. This is how it feels, and this is how Allie feels as well, so since she isn't a practicing muslim, she just neglects to let anyone know that about her family. Also, because she has light skin, and red hair, she passes, pretty much, as a WASP.

And she could keep this up, forever, except, at one point, she can't. And that is where the story gets interesting.

Allie decides to hide no longer, and starts to take baby steps to being the kind of muslim girl that would make her Teta proud.

There is a light love story. And there are some really real instances of islamaphobia, to which Allie reacts differently to as the story progresses.

The story is very current, and well written, and has a good voice. For example, when discussing her father's love of old musicals, which she basically grew up singing, she mentions hearing the lyrics to the sound of music in her head when facing a situation.
<blockquote>I picture "I have Confidence" from The Sound of Music, and imaginary nun running around the corners of my brain and belting out inspiration.
Why yes, I do bring imaginary singing nuns with me to Qur'an study group. No wonder I'm so mixed up.

The only problem I have with this book, but then I have with all YA books, is why the heck to the women always comment on how their boyfriend smells?

<blockquote> He smells fresh, like soap and cinnamon gum</blockquote>

Really? Do women go around smelling men and thinking about what they smell of?

Highly recommend this for all.

Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.
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So, I got an ARC from NetGalley of this title and I am glad for the experience. I learned a great deal about Islam and Muslim culture, as well about some of the more intricate parts of the Qur’an AND the Christian bible. There is definitely some appeal in being along for the ride as Allie navigates her decision to embrace the faith in which she was born but specifically not raised.  

Here are the reasons for the 3.5:
-many of the threads of this story seem disjointed or too stretched to be believably carried through in her life
-the love/in love part feels a little contrived...not sure why, but there’s that. 
-Easily the most frustrating aspect of this electronic ARC was the completely MISSING texts! Like, all of them. If that’s gonna be a feature of your story and you are going to advance plot with that technique, then you really gotta make sure they are there. I was super disappointed when I realized they were all going to be missing. Not cool. 
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This story was enjoyable & engaging with well-developed characters. It was interesting to follow the main character on her journey toward becoming a practicing Muslim instead of a cultural Muslim. Many issues that are current hot topics in the US, such as bigotry, Islamaphobia, & discrimination, are accurately portrayed in this novel. I happily recommend this novel!
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All-American Muslim Girl tackles difficult questions head-on with grace and poise. We see a white-passing Muslim tackle questions of her faith, her people, and what it means to be a Muslim.  

Allie looks like your average American girl but she's hiding a secret, she's Muslim. No one at her new school knows and she doesn't have a habit of telling anyone. But when an Islamaphobic interaction happens on a plane with her father, Allie starts questioning what it means to be Muslim and what she wants to do with her life. 

This book has beautiful discussions of intersectionality, different religions, and differing opinions within a religion. White privilege and racism are a big topic in this book. You learn a great deal about Islam in this book too and I loved all the different depictions of being a Muslim. Just like any religion, there are different interpretations and beliefs within the faith. Allie also goes through imposter syndrome. Is she a good Muslim? Does she have the right to question and criticize a faith she just started embracing? 

The e-ARC was missing the text messages and Instagram conversations and feel like because of that I missed out on important discussions. Other than that, this book is absolute perfection. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BYR) through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.*
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I really wanted to like this book, but the main character just kind of drove me nuts. I guess I just can't relate to having that kind of money and being in that level of class. I understand the religion aspect, being Jewish, sometimes we get singled out, but she was able to hide it because she didn't look Muslim.
Allie (real name Alia) has recently relocated with her family to live in a suburb of Atlanta, and does mostly typical 15/16 year old girl things like going to a good high school, taking honors classes, and having a crush on a dude whose name is Wells (yes, Wells). But what Allie doesn’t tell usually tell anyone is that she’s actually Muslim. She is of Circassian heritage (which I wasn’t familiar with and was glad to learn more about in this book) and basically looks like most of the white kids she goes to school with. Which in some cases makes her life easier. This book is all about her exploration of her own identity, trying to figure out how to claim her Muslim identity and practice Islam in a way that feels right for her.  She slowly starts to share what she’s learning and exploring and to stand up to the people who are against the Muslims or Islamic faith.

Like many YA protagonists, Allie is just trying to figure out who she is and what she believes in; in this particular story, it happens to be against a backdrop of Islamaphobia, fear-mongering, and ignorance from secondary characters. Overall, I think it is good for anyone of this religion to have someone to read about who is similar to them.
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All I can really say after reading this is that I am so so grateful and thankful that this book exists and is coming out into the world soon. I wish I had this book growing up because Allie was someone that I relate to today and I definitely would've related to when I was sixteen like her. This book was all about validation and acceptance, like a long-lost friend pulling you in for a warm hug saying that everything’s going to be okay. You’re okay and you’re valid just the way you are. At the end of the day, we are all human and our true mission in life is to live it as authentically to ourselves as we can.

**Thank you so much to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to review this book in exchange for my thoughts.**
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I absolutely loved this book! Nadine Jolie Courtney does a great job of illustrating the world of a first-generation American who is trapped between two worlds and just wants to fit somewhere. Allie’s struggles with family, friends, religion, and culture should strike a chord with everyone, because I think every young person, regardless of their background, has experienced the insecurity of not knowing where they belonged. 
I learned a lot about the Circassian people and Islam. As someone who lives in Dallas, I appreciated the accuracy of references to the metroplex. I would definitely recommend this book to my students, Muslim and non-Muslim alike!
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I love books that teach me about different cultures through fictional characters, and this one did not disappoint. To be honest, I had never heard of a Circassian and I felt like I got a history lesson from this book. I loved the way this author was able to weave in her culture and religion while also focusing on acceptance. 
     Allie is someone that I feel like most high schoolers can relate to. She might practice a different religion than some, but she still has those feelings of wanting to belong and feel accepted. Throughout this book, Allie begins to realize that the only person who needs to accept her is herself. I love this message and I think this author drove it home beautifully! 
    If you are like me and you want to learn about people who are different from you, please read this book! You will not be sorry.
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This book was such a fantastic surprise! I requested it from NetGalley based on the cover alone and briefly thought I wouldn’t read it at all. My sense of responsibility dictated that I at least read a chapter or two and once I started I couldn’t stop. I loved the flawed heroine. Her voice was charming and her drama was so relatable. Highly recommended.

*I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
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This was such a good, satisfying read! I loved the realistic depiction of a girl who longs to get in touch with her cultural and spiritual heritage, despite the fact that it might make her life more complicated. Allie's desire to live her Circassan heritage and own her identity as a Muslim rang true with me, and I think a lot of teen readers will relate. That's just such a real thing for this age group- searching for the authentic self. 

The way this book addresses the current political climate and anti-Muslim prejudice feels relevant and timely, and I think the thing that really sets this book apart is its #ownvoices perspective on the experience of not outwardly presenting one's culture or ethnicity. Nadine Jolie Courtney offers a fascinating viewpoint on this, painting a believable picture of a girl who's been hovering in a liminal space between cultures and is determined to move forward by embracing all aspects of herself.
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I got an ARC of this book from Netgalley for review purposes. 

I read - and loved - Randa Abdelfattah's book, "Does My Head Look Big In This?", and have been looking for the American equivalent ever since. I am so glad to say that I have finally found it.

Allie's voice is so authentic and the way she expresses herself is like looking into a mirror of the mind in so many ways for me. Her desire to belong and understand herself and her place in the world is relatable. Her family is big, loud, and loving, and runs the gamut from devout to non-practicing cultural/secular Muslims.

A wonderful read for adults and teens alike.
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Allie (real name Alia) has recently relocated with her family to live in a suburb of Atlanta, and does typical 15/16 year old middle class girl things like going to a good high school, taking honors classes, having a crush on a dude whose name is Wells (yes, Wells). But what Allie doesn’t tell usually tell anyone is that she’s actually Muslim. She is of Circassian heritage (which I wasn’t familiar with and was interested to learn more about in this book) and basically looks like most of the white kids she goes to school with, and her parents don’t practice Islam, so it’s never been a big deal for her. This book is all about her exploration of her own identity, trying to figure out how to claim her Muslim identity and practice Islam in a way that feels right for her. She hides all of this from her father, who doesn’t really approve of religion, but she slowly starts to share what she’s learning and exploring with Wells, new Muslim friends, and a variety of “go back where you came from” bigots. 

Like many YA protagonists, Allie is just trying to figure out who she is and what she believes in; in this particular story, it happens to be against a backdrop of Islamaphobia, fear-mongering, and ignorance from secondary characters. Overall, I liked it, but it felt like it was missing something that I can’t quite put my finger on.
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I'm of two minds about this: At times I felt like it got so close to that THING I've been trying to figure out forever, but then it became about the high school or the live story again...Overall, I enjoyed the read and do not have anything specific I can say bothered me or didn't seem right. I just wish it had gone just a little farther, not that it needed to in order to be taken seriously.
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Alia (Allie) has been raised to hide her Muslim faith. Her read hair and light skin make it easy to do so. When she gets tired of hiding and wants to embrace her faith, she will challenge her friends, family, and personal boundaries she’s loved her her whole life. My only complaint about this book was I wished that it would explain what the Arabic words meant a little more.
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I recommend All-American Muslim Girl to anyone who has had to explain "where they come from" and "why they don't fit a presumed stereotype". In this case, the main character, Allie, is Circassian-American. (I didn't know what Circassian was until I read this book and then distant memories from World History class about the fall of the Ottoman Empire came forth.).  All of this world history serves to explain how an All- American looking girl like Allie happens to be Muslim.  Of course, the simple explanation is that Islam is a religion, not an ethnicity, but try explaining THAT to people who think all Muslims look alike. 

Allie recognizes her privilege in her ability to pass as "not Muslim" and she has been using that privilege to go along and help her family get along. All this going along and getting along has taken a toll on her and it's  corroding her relationship with herself, her beloved grandmother and her extended family. She's decided to commit to exploring Islam and she's ready to face the possible loss of peer acceptance. She's not so sure if she is she ready to handle to strain on her relationship with her father, who very much wants their family to continue a secular lifestyle. .Add to all this, a romance with a sweet guy whose father is a local TV personality of the Fox-and-Friends variety and you can see that Allie's situation is complicated. 

I enjoyed spending time with Allie as she sorted through her feelings about faith, family and friends. I highly recommend it to readers in grades 8 and up. Readers who liked The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah, The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo or Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed will enjoy All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney.
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Very enjoyable YA novel about a teenager who is exploring her religion. Mostly warm and cozy, along with some interesting information on Circassian Muslims (the author also shares this identity). I particularly appreciated the MC's focus on intersectionality, the multitude of approaches to Islam, and the lived experiences of being a "white passing" Muslim in America during a time of heightened Islamaphobia
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