Summary and book reviews of All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney

All-American Muslim Girl

by Nadine Jolie Courtney

All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney X
All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Nov 2019, 432 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2021, 432 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Catherine M Andronik
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About this Book

Book Summary

Allie Abraham has it all going for her - she's a straight-A student, with good friends and a close-knit family, and she's dating cute, popular, and sweet Wells Henderson.

One problem: Wells's father is Jack Henderson, America's most famous conservative shock jock...and Allie hasn't told Wells that her family is Muslim. It's not like Allie's religion is a secret, exactly. It's just that her parents don't practice and raised her to keep her Islamic heritage to herself. But as Allie witnesses ever-growing Islamophobia in her small town and across the nation, she begins to embrace her faith--studying it, practicing it, and facing hatred and misunderstanding for it. Who is Allie, if she sheds the façade of the "perfect" all-American girl? What does it mean to be a "Good Muslim?" And can a Muslim girl in America ever truly fit in? 

All-American Muslim Girl is a relevant, relatable story of being caught between two worlds, and the struggles and hard-won joys of finding your place.

CHAPTER ONE

We've passed through security and we're boarding the plane when the breaking news alert hits my cell phone: There's been a shooting.

Alerts like this trigger the same thought process, every single time. First: horror for the victims of the crime. But second: anxiety. Was a Muslim involved? Please, God, don't let there have been a Muslim involved.

The TV monitors in the boarding area are tuned to a show my father hates: Jack Henderson's nightly The Jack Attack, a cable news juggernaut. My heart tightens as images of the shooting flash next to Jack's face. I can't hear what he's saying, but I'm sure it's his usual bombast: immigrants, Muslims, borders, walls.

Next to the TVs, the beige walls are decorated with white lights and Christmas wreaths, a feeble attempt to bring seasonal cheer to the T gates.

Once safely on the plane, I poke my mother; my father is across the aisle from me, with a white man wearing khakis and a blazer in the adjacent window seat.

"Mom. Look," I say.

My ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The author uses an almost Socratic approach to Allie's religious self-discoveries. A chapter in which she and her newfound study group heatedly discuss being both feminist and Muslim presents an astonishing amount of information in the form of a natural and fascinating dialogue. In the face of post 9/11 Islamophobia in the media, novels like All-American Muslim Girl are important vehicles for helping young people understand a frequently misunderstood religion while enjoying a universal coming-of-age story...continued

Full Review (525 words).

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(Reviewed by Catherine M Andronik).

Media Reviews

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
Courtney, herself a Circassian Muslim, writes with thoughtfulness and immediacy about the quandary of Allie’s identity as she negotiates messaging from different directions…The book is particularly gifted at documenting Allie’s exploration of faith; her spiritual quest is treated with unusual depth and high readability…Between its sharp and sympathetic exploration of identity and its interesting interrogation of the undertreated topic of faith, this will resonate with many readers, and it may encourage young people to consider their own spiritual paths.

Booklist
There's a lot to unpack here, but isn't there always when it comes to religion and politics? Courtney does so with poise, naturally integrating genuinely informative context into the story...Readers trapped between two worlds, religious or not, will find solace here.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Courtney examines matters of subtle and blatant Islamophobia, privilege and erasure, and questions of faith and identity with a sensitivity born of experience and respect.

School Library Journal (starred review)
Religion is rarely handled with such wisdom and depth in YA, or discussed so lovingly. A rich and memorable exploration of faith and family that is a first purchase for all collections.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The book handles the complexity and intersectionality of being a Muslim American woman with finesse, addressing many aspects of identity and Islamic opinions...the book has universal appeal thanks to its nuanced, well-developed teen characters whose struggles offer direct parallels to many other communities. Phenomenal.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Circassian Ethnic Identity and History

Map of the Caucasus/Circassian regionIn All-American Muslim Girl, Allie Abraham's family is ethnically Circassian, which accounts in part for her fair, reddish blonde hair. As Allie observes, few Americans have ever heard of Circassians, so in the novel she gives a very cursory background that only begins to describe the history and struggles of this group of people. Author Nadine Jolie Courtney, née Haobsh, knows Allie's heritage well; it is her own.

Circassians originally inhabited the northwest Caucasus area, now in southwestern Russia between the Black and Caspian Seas. Historically, the Circassians populated princedoms in the rugged mountains, fighting to maintain their cultural and political independence against the Muslim Mamluk and Ottoman Empires, and then ...

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