84 pages 2 hours read

Hena Khan

Amina's Voice

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2017

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Symbols & Motifs

The Quran Memorization and Recitation Competition

The competition is a major recurring motif throughout the narrative, as it is introduced at the narrative’s outset and recurs as a major source of tension and conflict for Amina. Through this motif, Khan explores the many dimensions of Amina’s Pakistani-American life. On the one hand, we see Amina’s difficulty with pronouncing Arabic. This difficulty is surely compounded by her American, English-speaking life. If Amina had grown up in Pakistan, then it is highly likely that Arabic would not be as much of a struggle for her. Amina’s difficulty, therefore, can be directly tied to the complexity that she must navigate as a Pakistani American child who is being asked to excel in both Arabic and English-speaking contexts, while also feeling the pressure of being able to speak and understand Urdu. Three languages would be difficult for most adults to juggle, let alone an eleven-year-old child. This motif therefore demonstrates the unique pressures and demands of Amina’s life—and the ways that her inner strength and intelligence become her north star in her personal triumph and development.