More to the Story by Hena Khan
Publication Date: September 3rd, 2019
From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes a new story inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic, Little Women, featuring four sisters from a modern American Muslim family living in Georgia.
When Jameela Mirza is picked to be feature editor of her middle school newspaper, she’s one step closer to being an award-winning journalist like her late grandfather. The problem is her editor-in-chief keeps shooting down her article ideas. Jameela’s assigned to write about the new boy in school, who has a cool British accent but doesn’t share much, and wonders how she’ll make his story gripping enough to enter into a national media contest.
Jameela, along with her three sisters, is devastated when their father needs to take a job overseas, away from their cozy Georgia home for six months. Missing him makes Jameela determined to write an epic article—one to make her dad extra proud. But when her younger sister gets seriously ill, Jameela’s world turns upside down. And as her hunger for fame looks like it might cost her a blossoming friendship, Jameela questions what matters most, and whether she’s cut out to be a journalist at all…
I received this e-ARC through netgalley for an honest review.
Let me just start out by saying that my name’s Rameela and I’m also from Georgia and am Pakistani so like, right off the bat I already relate?! (I mean I know Jameela isn’t the same thing, but that’s about as close as it will ever get, let’s be honest.) I’d also like to make a small confession… I actually haven’t read Little Women (yet– I WILL. I PROMISE).
ANYWAY, I do know some of the basic plot of the story this was inspired by so I was able to see a few parallels! I loved Jameela’s voice and her passion for being a journalist. Right from the start, I could see her love of writing and her ideas and I could also see her beautiful flaws (which is great, since she’s a middle schooler and wow, relatable. I was also kind of a “know it all” and obsessed with getting facts correct and being control!).
I FLEW through this book. The family dynamics were so beautifully written and the plot was interesting throughout! I loved the relationships between Jameela and her sisters (it felt so realistic and each character had a different dynamic with her which I really appreciated!) and her parents. Although the focus was on Jameela the majority of the time, the other siblings were brought in just enough so they weren’t just there for the sake of existing. They were important to Jameela and therefore important to the plot.
Of course, we can’t go through this review without talking about Jameela’s friendship with Ali! I loved the little middle school drama and the blossoming friendship. Ali was a charming little boy and honestly, he brought an extra light to this book that I definitely needed since I was crying SO MUCH at other things!
There was humor, family, friendship, sadness. And of course, just like with Amina’s Voice, Hena Khan also sheds some light on micro-aggressions and racism. I think it’s so important for all children (young and old) to read this book. It talks about such important topics and I never once felt like anything was being forced upon me. Everything felt natural and progressed at a perfect pace!
I would recommend this to anyone who wants to learn more about desi culture in America, wants a book that can give you every feeling imaginable in the shortest amount of time, and shows a perfect example of imperfect children and family relationships. I would recommend this to girls who like to research even when they know they probably don’t want to know the answer, aspiring journalists, and people who are passionate about what they believe in. If you enjoy realistic family dynamics, cute friendships, and great character development this is definitely the book for you!
You should also check out Hena Khan’s other novel Amina’s Voice. I have a review for that HERE.