More to the Story

by Hena Khan

Jameela (Jam) and her sisters live in Atlanta, where Jam aspires to be a journalist.... read more

Jameela (Jam) and her sisters live in Atlanta, where Jam aspires to be a journalist. Older sister Maryam is responsible, beautiful, and caring; quiet, 11-year-old Bisma looks up to Jam; youngest Aleeza gets on Jam’s nerves. Their family’s recent financial worries are eased with Baba’s new job in Abu Dhabi, but they miss him despite daily video calls. Jam, features editor of her middle school paper, is eager to write a piece in the spirit of her late, journalist grandfather. She interviews 8th grader Ali, a British boy staying with their close family friends. From casual conversation, she knows that Ali, like she, has experienced micro- aggressions as a Muslim and Pakistani. But Ali’s not interested in talking about it in the interview. Jam backs off, but drafts a piece she wishes she could publish. When that piece accidentally gets printed, she knows she must make amends as both a journalist and Ali’s friend. Bisma’s diagnosis of lymphoma adds to Jam’s upset, but friends, including Ali, and the community rally around as her sister goes through treatment. Each of the four Pakistani American sisters has a distinct personality and voice, and the family and larger social dynamics are spot-on in this engaging, fresh, contemporary recasting of Little Women that doesn’t require familiarity with the original; it’s wholly enjoyable in its own right. (Ages 8–12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2020

show less