(And also to better your life because they’re fab)
If you’re like me, and you can’t take your eyes off the ongoing trainwreck that is the U.S. Government, you’re probably thinking about how you can get to work on dismantling the system which has allowed these gross people to maintain power. On June 26th, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that Tr*mp’s discriminatory “Muslim Ban” was… okay.
Two weeks ago, Muslims around the world were celebrating Eid, the end of their holy month of fasting. Around that time, I thought of maybe posting a list of books by Muslim authors, but I never got around to it. After this week’s news, however, I changed my mind.
Sometimes, merely telling people to support marginalized authors is a radical act itself. In a world that actively works on keeping them in the margins, these authors are out here proving to the world that everybody deserves a chance to be heard.
Muslim-American teen Noel Said Hassan wrote:
Being true to the person you are and who you want to be.
Being a flower instead of a tree in the big forest that everyone else wants to be.
Not following society’s orders.”
There is truth in not following the norms. There is truth in your humanity. There is truth in words, because writing is a radical act, especially in the face of oppression and bigotry.
So, for today’s list, I’m sharing ten (10) YA books by Muslim women, all of whom are out here being unapologetic in their faith and in their identities.
1. Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali: All Janna wants is to be a photographer, and find a way to fit in. Living in a small apartment with her mom and spoiled brother, that may be a problem. Also a problem: Janna can’t deal with her trauma while her abuser walks around her mosque like nothing is wrong. (Out now!)
2. Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah: When Amal starts wearing her hijab full-time, everyone around her has an opinion about it. Some of these people are encouraging, others confused. But there are some who are out to give her a lot of grief. (Out now!)
3. Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed: Naila is a normal Pakistani girl who just wants to go to college and be with her boyfriend, Saif. Except, her conservative parents find out about her relationship, shipping her off to Pakistan to marry, effectively cutting her off from everything and everyone she knows and loves. (Out now!)
4. The Ember Quartet by Sabaa Tahir: A lush, brutal fantasy series that follows the lives of a girl finding courage in the bleakest circumstances, and a boy groomed to be the finest killer who just wishes to be free. (First three books are out now!)
5. Not the Girls You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi: Lulu Saad is an unapologetic girl who just wants to be with her best friends and do normal teenager things. Except she might be doing certain things that could be deemed Messy. (Out now!)
6. Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed: Maya Aziz wants to go to film school in New York, but after a hate crime shakes the way the community sees her and her Muslim family, those plans might just be out the window. (Out now!)
7. A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi: After 9/11, Shirin copes with the outright islamophobia she faces in the only ways she can: a thick skin, listening to loud music, and break-dancing with her brother. Until Ocean James comes along, and her wall threatens to fall down… (Release date: 10/16/2018; you can read an excerpt here)
8. Mirage by Somaiya Daud: Amani dreams of becoming a poet, only to find out she looks just like a cruel Princess. To make matters worse, she’s enjoying her time with the Princess’ fiance. (Relase date: 08/28/2018; you can read an excerpt here)
9. The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan: Seventeen-year old Rukhsana is sent to Bangladesh by her conservative parents when they find out she’s been kissing girls. (Release date: 01/29/2019; you can read an excerpt here)
10. We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal: An Huntress tasked with a mysterious quest. A Prince tasked with killing her. Elves. Really, this should be all you need to know about this book. (Release date: 05/14/ 2019; you can read the official synopsis here)
There are books in this list that deal with some triggering issues like sexual assault and domestic abuse, to name a few, so I suggest you seek out reviews and trigger warnings before delving into them.
If you wish to read a more comprehensive list of books by Muslim authors or Muslim creatives, you should check out Avid Reader’s list of 100+ Muslim Books and creators. You can also check out this list of 10 Contemporary Novels By and About Muslims from Lithub.
If you want to know how to be more active in your work or knowledgeable of where to donate your money, here are resources from the ACLU (donate here) about what to do when encountering law enforcement at airports and other ports of entry, from Muslim Advocates (donate here), and from the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation (donate here). Or just, y’know, use Google.
I have more rec lists, as well as edits, book reviews, and other fun stuff. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @boricuareads.