The Summer When Everything Changed by Nur Kose and Nura Fahzy
📚 BOOK REVIEW 📚
Title: The Summer When Everything Changed
Author: Nur Kose and Nura Fahzy
Illustrator: Nura Fahzy
Age: 10 and up
Rating: 7/10 🌟
Hanaan is looking forward to spending quality time with her older sister now that summer break is coming up. Rahima and Hanaan have a special bond and connection even with their ten-year age gap. Hanaan is a homeschooler who enjoys reading and writing. All her summer plans are thrown for a loop when she discovers her sister is getting married.
Ameerah is the youngest of four, she is the princess of the family. She is fit and sporty and her life revolves around her success in sports and teammates. Everything changes when Ameerah is told that due to unforeseen circumstances, she won't be able to attend her school next year which means she will not be part of the school team, her favourite brother has found work for the summer, her best friend is moving away and her eldest brother is getting married.
The union of their siblings brings about undesired meetings which forces the girls to spend time together and find almost nothing in common. Their observations have them discover a fraud among them that would lead to a disastrous wedding day. They have a big decision to make.
This middle grade chapter book contains a few takeaways:
1. Family dynamics/relationships
2. Finding common ground among differences
3. Sibling bonds
4. Keeping an open mind and adapting to change
5. Importance of family support to individual milestones
The narration of chapters alternates between Hanaan and Ameerah and this is made clear before the chapter begins. We don't get to know the exact connection between the two girls until quite a bit into the book as it sets up the scenes and characters.
What I like:
The book is written well and it kept me drawn to it. I really love the fact that this book has the Muslim families presented in a positive light. The bond that the two sisters share is symbolically manifested with the two lights hadith which is mentioned throughout the book (it's the first time I came across this hadith and prompted me to do a little research, alhamdulilah)
The ethnic background of the families is unknown and I didn't really notice until the end of the book. I don't think it would have added anything to the story. It shows that both families live their lives with mainly Islamic influence.
I found the conversations between the characters to be a bit over the top with "Dude", "Yo", "Y'all". Maybe I don't spend enough time with the kids in that age group to notice if this is their normal conversation, but I am not so sure. Also, Rahima, Hanaan's older sister is a hijabi and is praised for her skills at having it placed so neatly on her head but when the scene is drawn with the sisters sitting on the rooftop, she is drawn without it. My guess is that this is a small oversight. I was actually hoping that the girls would join forces to carry some sort of plan to get the fraudster to admit their selfish plan so they save the day in a bold way but it didn't happen. Birthdays are referenced in this book but no fuss is made about celebrating them. Also, a couple of times, the it indicates that the brothers listed to nasheeds on full blast.
This book is a great read for preteens and I love the fact that it is clean from other influences that we normally see in books in this age group. This is labelled Book 1 and seems that the intent is to have a series, which keeps me on my toes. Overall a good read.