Tag Archives: Islam

Student Review: Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal, by G. Willow Wilson (reviewed by Tajea B)

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No NormalMs. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first female Muslim superhero is finally here, and she’s not afraid to kick some butt. G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel successfully caught my eyes with its amazing illustrations and storyline. Reading Ms. Marvel is almost like going on an adventure through your imagination. The plot in this adventure breaks a new ground. When we meet Kamala in her non-super state she’s a 16 year-old geek, who’s loyal to her close friend and disinclined to rebel against her observant family. Don’t get me started on her “sad nerd obsession with the Avengers” (3). She writes elaborate fanfictions about them and tries to get her parents to understand, but of course they don’t. Kamala seems out of place, even in her diverse high school. She can’t seem to “fit in” with the other teens. Throughout the comic we see how it is a struggle to not only learn new superpowers, but also live a double life. I will say this book is a big deal to American Muslims, and the children of Muslim immigrants, to see themselves represented in an amazing book like this. It also shows how wonderful teenage Muslim minds think and how they cherish their faith. If I could, I would give every single student in high schools everywhere a copy of this comic. I recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about Muslim culture or who loves a good laugh and superheros. ~ Student: Tajea B

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Filed under *Student Review, Action/Adventure, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction

Student Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini (reviewed by Camila H.)

A Thousand Splendid SunsA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was honestly one of the best books I have ever read. It was a perfect balance between a captivating story, and non fiction history. It forced you to learn about the history of the character’s country, but it also got you attached to the characters and the plot line. The relationships and connections between all the characters was really well done, and I loved how it started out with Laila and Mariam’s separate stories and then came together as one. I also loved how they had so many plot twists, especially the one with Tariq. It brought up issues with the Laila and Mariam’s family that were real-life issues, but it showed them to you from an inside view. The writing was also really well done, and I really liked how the author showed the story from two different sides. The ending was a perfect balance of sadness and happiness, because Laila got her perfect family and job, but Mariam had to die for Laila’s freedom. I thought overall it was an amazing book, and I would recommend it to anyone. ~ Student: Camila H.

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Student Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini (reviewed by Anya G.)

A Thousand Splendid SunsA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book- much more than I thought I would. At first it was a bit tricky to read, given that the point of view switches between characters, and jumps ahead years at a time. However, the way the two main characters’ lives come together was really interesting, albeit depressing. I liked seeing how they reacted to each other’s presence as wives to the same man. The author really got inside their minds, and made the book feel very real and close to the heart. Although the first 50 or so pages were a bit slow, after that, I really found the book hard to put down. The plot completely draws you in, and I found myself craving to learn more about Mariam and Laila’s plights, living with Rasheed. The plot twisted and turned, sometimes unexpectedly, keeping the reader completely immersed in the storyline. I sympathized with Laila and Mariam, laughing at the funny bits, getting weepy at the sad bits (and there were a lot of them!). I realized that right after finishing the book, I wanted to know more about Mariam and Laila and their lives. ~ Student: Anya G.

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Student Review: Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil, by Deborah Rodriguez (reviewed by Allie T.)

Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the VeilKabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil by Deborah Rodriguez

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This wonderful piece of nonfiction, gives the reader a view of Kabul in 2002, through the eyes of an American hair stylist. Deborah Rodriguez arrived in Kabul as part of a charitable aid mission. When she saw the state of dismay that Kabul was in after the Taliban came through, she knew she had to help. Although many people when trying to be charitable may donate money, Deborah donated her skills. She set a goal and accomplished it. Her goal was to create and operate a beauty school. Giving the society a beauty school actually ended up being more instrumental than donating pure cash because when taught a skill like beautification the students now have many options. Giving Afghan women practical training convertible into cash and personal power, was a radical idea in a country where women have a very low status comparatively to the men in the community. In fact, when Deborah was at her friends wedding in Kabul she had noticed that, “Afghan brides aren’t really supposed to look happy at these events.(15)” Objectively, men are encouraged to have the time of their lives on their wedding night. Is this fair? In this community it is considered a norm. However, in the United States this does not seem very ordinary, women in the United States stereotypically plan their wedding at a very young age. In the U.S. women are supposed to have fun and be exuberant on their wedding night, unlike in Kabul in 2002. ~ Student: Allie T.

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Student Review: Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi (reviewed by Alekhya C.)

Reading Lolita in TehranReading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Reading Lolita in Tehran has all the ingredients for a superb, stunning memoir: a book club driven underground by a totalitarian regime, a university in which books are put on trial and made to defend themselves, and a unique criticism of Western literature amid a war on all things Western. But Reading Lolita in Tehran is not simply one book. It is not even two books. Instead, it is a mismatch, a hodge-podge of several books that aims to astound, but in overestimating the reader’s literary knowledge, falls a little short.

For the two years before she left Iran in 1997, Nafisi, an English literature professor, led a weekly meeting of seven former students (all women), who gathered at her home to discuss forbidden works of Western literature. Each woman had her own set of problems under the increasingly oppressive regime, but found solace in the works of authors like James, Fitzgerald and Nabokov. Nafisi’s account is filled with flashbacks to the early days of the revolution, to her years of teaching at the University of Tehran. Amid the protests and demonstrations on campus, many of the Western texts Nafisi taught came under fire from her more conservative and religious students. In fact, one of Nafisi’s more memorable anecdotes recounts the prosecution and defense of The Great Gatsby by her politically polarized Intro to Western Literature class.

But while Nafisi’s account of the Iranian Revolution is both fascinating and compelling, it is all too easy to get lost in her pages and pages of literary criticism. This book comes with a reading list: Lolita, An Invitation to a Beheading, Pride and Prejudice, Daisy Miller, and The Great Gatsby are all prerequisites for understanding much of Nafisi’s train of thought, and I recommend them to anyone who wishes to read this book. Much like the student who comes unprepared to class, any reader without familiarity with these works will be left struggling to follow along and should not count on taking much away from this book. ~ Student: Alekhya C.

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Filed under *Student Review, Biography/memoir

Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers

Book cover image of Zeiton from goodreads.com
book cover image from goodreads.com

Wonderful narrative nonfiction account of one family’s odyssey through the Katrina fiasco in New Orleans. Rarely have I encountered a work of nonfiction with such elegant story telling and gripping suspense.  Abdul Zeitoun stays behind in New Orleans to watch over his family’s home and work sites while his family flees to the home of generous friends in Arizona. The story’s climax occurs when Abdul’s humanity is countered by the staggering inhumanity of the New Orleans “authorities,” while Abdul’s family worries themselves sick over his plight. This is a story of love, family, and faith coupled with bigotry, incompetence and human rights violations, but mostly, it’s just a really good story.

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