All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney [in School Library Journal]
For Allie Abraham, “hiding is easy: reddish-blond hair, pale skin, hazel eyes,” in other words – white. That she looks “textbook Circassian…from the Caucasus region. (Hey, they don’t call it Caucasian for nothing),” is her ethnic inheritance from her immigrant Circassian Jordanian history professor father. He’s Muslim, as is her mother, an American psychologist who converted when they married, but they raised Allie without religion.
After multiple moves, the family finally seems settled in Providence, just north of Atlanta, and Allie appears content to be an all-American girl who might even be ready for her first romance. But as Islamophobia – from microaggressions to vitriolic racism – expands, Allie’s reaction is to eschew passing and actively pursue the cultural, linguistic, and religious heritage she feels she missed.
Perennially youthfully voiced Priya Ayyar embodies Allie’s journey with empathic insight, from quiet frustration to careful confrontations, from calm devotion to vocal confidence. She’s as affecting with Allie’s detractors, from ignorant strangers to unexpected opponents – including her new boyfriend’s father who turns out to be a bigot.
Verdict: Versatile narrator Ayyar adroitly amplifies an already resonant novel.
Readers: Young Adult