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Proud in Her Hijab

Iman is teased at lunch one day by her classmates that do not understand what the hijab is and what it means. She goes home really upset and tells her family what happened. Iman’s mother, sister, and brother validate her feelings and help her see how she is not odd and has no reason to be ashamed of her hijab. They have a long conversation about each of their differences and how they each feel about their different hairstyles. Her mother reminds her that doing hair together is part of their family bonding and traditions.

Proud in Her Hijab: A Story of Family Strength, Empowerment, and Identity is a heartwarming picture book that will not only educate but help young girls feel confident in their choices. While this story focuses on a young Muslim girl wearing her hijab, the message does apply to all children because everyone is unique.

Author Zinet Kemal has written a beautiful children’s book in a way that is conversational, easy to understand, and relatable to children in elementary school. Kemal delicately approaches a difficult topic. Rather than just brushing it off after the family talks, Iman confronts her classmates to educate them and let them know their behavior is hurtful. Iman learns to take pride in her identity and speak up for herself, this is a great message to pass on to young children, especially girls.

This colorful picture book is illustrated by Mia Hay. The illustrations are bold and bright, and the characters are brought to life through these striking images. The combination of the fantastic illustrations and Kemal’s description of the hijab will draw in young readers and encourage them to learn more.

Proud in Her Hijab: A Story of Family Strength, Empowerment, and Identity is a well-conceived and educational picture book for young readers. This is an excellent resource for teachers and parents to teach about diversity and inclusion, different cultures, and kindness.

Pages: 36 | ASIN : B099NX1GTV

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Free Yourself

Free Yourself is a collection of intimate and engaging poetry written by Juliana Garcell. The poems are written in various styles and in various formats which helps to keep things interesting. The poetry sometimes hits on current social and political topics, but there is an overall focus on love, loss, and identity. Especially the struggle with identity in the face of love and loss; but having to define it in this way is somewhat limiting as I feel the poems are about much more.

I enjoyed this collection and found the poems to be lyrical, as if written for a song. Each poem has its own focus, although they area about slightly similar topics. The emotions expressed are often raw and painted in vivid detail with colorful connections and allusions to nature and culture.

Each poem is impactful, if not relatable, and I was able to understand each one. Understanding a poem is important for me, as I feel that poets often go off on some abstract ideas. But this collection is down to earth, and simple to follow, which makes the message ring clearly.

I appreciated the poems that left me with singular emotions at the end, but I really enjoyed the poems that were able to do the same work with just one or two lines. ‘Free My Expression’ is one of my favorite of the shorter poems, with the line “want you to stay but I always run away”. And the very last poem, which I believe is untitled, is probably my favorite of the collection because it manages the same emotional impact as one of the longer poems with only four lines.

I recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys poetry that is emotive yet easy to understand. The collection is short, but I suggest you give yourself some time to stop and ponder the thoughts, concepts, and ideas conveyed in each of these poems as this is an engaging assortment of passionate poetry.

Pages: 56 | ISBN: 1483622444

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Physical: The Catastrophe of Desire

Physical: The catastrophe of desire4 StarsPhysical: The catastrophe of desire by Mari Reiza is a wild ride of a read. For both main characters, two middle aged women, Kiki and Fatima, it is indeed a catastrophe, but of their own making. Kiki is virtually strapped in a small town in Northern Italy and finds herself alone after her longtime boyfriend leaves for an “upgrade”. Fatima finds herself in a crisis of identity after having twins and struggles to find purpose in her enlarged family. Yet, both women feel pulled along by their baser desires to rekindle the energy and passion they had in their youth.

Overall, the book reads very fast pace, which for a shorter book is expected and I would say enjoyed it. There are moments where the book reads as if Reiza is experimenting with stream of conscious, but then it breaks away from that to continue in a more traditional narrative pattern. The change can occur on the same page or even within the same paragraph, which may be disconcerting to the careful reader.

The characters themselves are a varied mix of character strengths and flaws that can keeps the reader engaged. Kiki has a mouth like a sailor and clearly has a drive and motivation to make something of herself if she can overcome her very physical, base needs. There were times it was hard to follow her storyline given that she self-sabotages to a large degree. Fatima on the other hand seems to be the polar opposite, in the sense that she is in a steady marital relationship with children, something Kiki is allergic to. Fatima is no prude though and is as explicit as Kiki is about sex and the like. Both women seem driven to try and enliven their lives in any way they can no matter the cost, even if it dramatically disrupts their lives.

The story is told through both women point of view in alternating chapters and some heavy style choice make the narrative more “telling” than “showing”. But these are easy to push past as you get drawn into the struggle of Kiki and Fatima. The strongest point of Reiza’s writing is that you can truly feel where these women are coming from in their midlife crises. They are clearly tired and bored of their current lifestyle and need to do something to shake it up. It truly appeals to the deepest core beliefs that individuals can have when they have reached a “rock bottom” or stagnant part of life.

Overall, it is a classic contemporary fiction story. Of two women trying as best they can to beat back the overshadowing struggle of age and day to day responsibilities. Passion isn’t only reserved for the youth; it can always be rekindled later with a little help.

Pages: 143 | ASIN: B01N9ZU9XL

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