Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age Story. Amani Al-Khatahtbeh. 2016. 144 pages.
After Trump won the election last November, I vowed to make 2017 the year of more diverse reading. Instead of just picking up my usual go-to, a memoir written by a foodie or a photographer or another creative type, I wanted to read books from different perspectives with a more historical or political focus. When I sat down in December to make my “2017 Reading List,” I added historical names, like John Lewis, and some more modern shakers like Amani Al-Khatahtbeh.
Muslim Girl is about exactly what the title suggests it would be about: a Muslim girl. It’s the story of how Al-Khatahtbeh grew up in a New Jersey suburb in post-9/11 America and how she navigated her faith through the rise of Islamophobia in the United States. I know this is a very touchy subject, so instead of getting into all of the politics of everything, I’ll just tell you what I took away from the book.
Muslim Girl wasn’t the best written book I’ve read, but the subject matter kind of makes the writing seem not so important. In a quick 144 pages, Al-Khatahtbeh takes the reader through her experience of growing up during and after 9/11 as a Muslim immigrant family, both in New Jersey and then briefly back in her father’s native home of Jordan. The most powerful part of the book, however, was when Al-Khatahtbeh first came back to the United States and she sat in the car with her father while trying to decide whether or not she would walk into her New Jersey school wearing her hijab despite the growing Islamophobia.
There were times I wanted more from this book, but I applaud Al-Khatahtbeh on bringing a voice to such an underrepresented group. Al-Khatahtbeh is also the founder of MuslimGirl.com.