MORE TO THE STORY, by Hena Khan , Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Sept. 3, 2019, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 8-12)
Family dynamics take center stage in Hena Khan’s More to the Story.
When Jameela Mirza is picked to be feature editor of her middle school newspaper, she’s one step closer to being an award-winning journalist like her late grandfather. The problem is her editor-in-chief keeps shooting down her article ideas. Jameela’s assigned to write about the new boy in school, who has a cool British accent but doesn’t share much, and wonders how she’ll make his story gripping enough to enter into a national media contest.
Jameela, along with her three sisters, is devastated when their father needs to take a job overseas, away from their cozy Georgia home for six months. Missing him makes Jameela determined to write an epic article—one to make her dad extra proud. But when her younger sister gets seriously ill, Jameela’s world turns upside down. And as her hunger for fame looks like it might cost her a blossoming friendship, Jameela questions what matters most, and whether she’s cut out to be a journalist at all… —Synopsis provided by Salaam Reads
It’s not hard to tell that More to the Story was inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. The four sisters; a father away from home; a serious illness; and character names — Jo/Jameela, Meg/Maryam, Beth/Bisma, Amy/Aleeza — are all rooted in the source material.
But there are some major changes as well. The story centers on Muslim Pakistani-American family in 2019. So, there are some obvious differences. Technology, social climate and modern medicine all come into play. Social expectations also come into play.
More to the Story feels at once welcoming and familiar. It embodies the spirit of Alcott’s beloved classic but evolves into a book very much unto its own.
The best parts of More to the Story are when author Hena Khan is exploring familial interactions. Those are the most heart-warming and thoughtful moments. I particularly enjoyed snapshots into extended family life.
Sprinkled with humor and honest prose, More to the Story that should appeal to middle-grade readers.
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