#302 – The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia

Garden of My Imaan//

Peachtree Publisher’s Book Tour

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The Garden of My Imaan

by Farhana Zia

Peachtree Publishers

5 Stars

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Inside Jacket:  Aliya already struggles with finding her place, feeling confident enough to talk to the cute boy, and being brave enough to stand up to mean kids—the fact that she’s Muslim is just another part of her life.  But then Marwa, a Moroccan girl who shares Aliya’s faith, if not her culture, moves to town.  Marwa’s quiet confidence leads Aliya to wonder even more about herself: who she is, what she believes, and where she fits in.  As the school year passes, Aliya explores her dreams and fears in letters to Allah, hoping that with hard work and faith, something beautiful will grow in the garden of her imaan—the small quiet place within, where belief unfolds, one petal at a time.

First Sentence:  There is a lake not far from my house, with a sandy beach on one end and spongy walking trails on the other.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

Fifth-grader Aliya is trying to find her place at school where she can be herself, stand up to Austin—the school bully—with confidence, and talk to cute Josh.  At home, Aliya lives in a blended generational home with her Badi-Amma (great grandmother), Amma (grandmother), brother Zayd, and both parents.  The family is very functional, living by the customs of the Muslim religion, though liberally.  On Sundays, Aliya wears a scarf on her head when attending Sunday school at the Islamic Center, but does not during school.

Then a new girl enters the fifth grade.  He name is Marwa and the principle chooses Aliya to guide her.  Marwa is from a strict Moroccan family that practices strict Muslim traditions.  Marwa wears a hijab to school (which is teased), and carries her lunch, which has proved “stinky” to the some of the less polite students.  During Ramadan, a month long fasting period, Marwa fasts during the school day, while Aliya does not.  Marwa carries herself with a quiet confidence, something Aliya would love to have.  Austin tries to bully Marwa, but she stands up to him.

During Ramadan, a Sunday school assignment has Aliya doing something that will improve herself; make herself a better person.  Aliya decides to write letters to Allah.  At first, the letters are mere gripping.  Soon, Aliya is telling Allah all about her day and asking for advice.  Aliya’s letters to Allah and Marwa’s friendship help Aliya understand herself and her beliefs.  By stories end, Aliya has blossomed.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

I liked The Garden of Imaan because it dealt with some things I knew nothing about, but now do.  Marwa was herself, and all that meant, every day.  Raised a strict Muslim, she wore a hijab to school and never bowed to the pressures of some of the kids who taunted her and her beliefs.  She had a confidence that seemed unafraid, even of the school bully who she eventually befriended.  This confidence was born from her beliefs and her faith.

Aliya struggled with her faith and with herself.  She could not stand up to Austin and actually anticipated his daily taunts.  Though she never denied her Muslim faith at school, Aliya never did anything that made her stand-out, which was fine with her, until Marwa came to town.  As the story progressed so did Aliya.  She learned more about her faith and began to own it.  Her grandparents figured prominently in her life.  The entire family treated the two grandmothers with respect, with honor, and valued their elder’s advice.

I liked how Marwa’s willingness to be herself and wear her beliefs literally on her sleeves.  Marwa never judged, she stood up against Austin and even found a way to make him a friend.  Marwa is a wonderful role model for Aliya, arriving at a time when Aliya began questioning everything about her life.  In an election, Marwa did not use the same methods as the other students.  She did not use the typical poster touting her skills.  Her selflessness won out, to many students’ surprise, including Aliya.  These kinds of actions changed Aliya and some of the other students as well.  Can one person really make this much difference in the world?  The Garden of My Imaan seems to be saying, “Yes!”

At the end of the book is a glossary of the Arabic terms used in the story.  It is not necessary since each word is defined in the text and/or use in a sentence.  Still, it was nice to have that list as a reminder.  I think kids will like this story.  It is the story of a bully, peer pressure, class status, the Muslim faith, and one girl’s journey finding her own beliefs and faith.  Most importantly, kids will learn many things about the Muslim life that they probably do not know or understand.  I learned a lot and was pleased to learn it.  Conflicts will occur less the more we learn about each other.

***Tour Schedule Below

***  Erik, of ThisKidReviewsBooks.com will be reviewing The Garden of My Imaan in the weeks to come.  Once posted, you can read it HERE.

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The Garden of My Imaan

by Farhana Zia     website   blog    facebook    twitter
Peachtree Publishers    website   blog    facebook    twitter
Released May 1, 2013
ISBN:  978-1-56145-698-7
236 pages
Ages: 8 to 12
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Copyright © 2013 by Peachtree Publishers
Text:  Copyright © 2013 by Farhama Zia

DONATED TO LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY

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my garden discl

PEACHTREE PUBLISHER’S BOOK TOUR

The Garden of My Imaan

Monday
Blue Owl Reviews
Three Bookworms (also on Twitter!) 

Tuesday
Kid Lit Reviews (also on Twitter!) 

Wednesday
 Ms. Yingling Reads
It’s About Time, MaMaw

Thursday
The Streetlight Reader 

Friday
Paper Tigers

13 thoughts on “#302 – The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia

  1. Pingback: The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia | This Kid Reviews Books

  2. This sounds like a very powerful story. I like the idea of having the perspective being from a middle grade girl who is Muslim. You don’t really see that perspective very often in middle grade books. Thanks for linking this into the Kid Lit Blog Hop and for hosting once again! 🙂

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    • I was excited to receive this book. The Muslim population in the US is growing, so knowing more about this culture and religion is a good thing. I, too, was happy to see this for the middle grades, though anyone can read the book and learn a thing or two about communication versus violence.

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    • The Garden of My Imaan does just that. The protagonist shows us the good and the bad that others dish out simply because of her faith–or rather, because she is literally wearing her faith on her head with the hajib. I think that is what scares everyone for some reason.

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  3. Thanks for the great review. You are quite right in saying that it’s easier to get along with people when you know where they are coming from. The book will definitely fill a need.

    Geo Librarian
    Kid Lit Blog Hop

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  4. Thank you so much for linking this one into the KLBH! It’s important for our children to grow up knowing about other cultures and understanding that theirs isn’t the only way of doing things. Thanks very much for hosting yet again!

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    • I think you nailed it! When I grew up there was not much diversity. Now, I am the minority and there are all sorts of cultures and religions seen everyday. I am so glad I was able to read this book.

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  5. What a refreshing book, I will definitely put this book on our to be read list. Thank you for hosting the kid lit blog hop!
    Hopping along the Kid Lit Blog Hop,
    Cool Mom for Stanley & Katrina

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