We all go through it!
All of us.
That period of growth in our teens when we are at our most vulnerable. That stage where we are trying to find “Our Self” and our place in the world. But who are you meant to be when you are only fifteen? If you are lucky, it is the start of a journey with a few bumps on the road and eventually with light at the end of the tunnel, but for many, it is bumpier than most and this is where Muzna’s story starts.
Muzna Saleem is your typical fifteen-year-old. A young lady looking at equally beautiful girls of her age wishing she was as beautiful as them and finding many faults with her own physique. She is interested in boys, although culturally this is a no go area and for now it is pretty much at the back of her mind. Muzna is also an only child, a daughter with the utmost respect for her family who is attached to the traditions that are at its core. The only thing that is about to shatter her tranquillity is her dream of becoming a writer, as the passion she has for words goes against to the only profession that would make her father proud and who wants her to become a doctor. The dream her father has for her becomes simply too much to bear and as if this was not enough, her family ups and goes to move away from all she knows, and also away from her best friend entangled in some scandalous event. She moves to a new area in a new school where bullies run rife. And bullied she will be, as sadly in this new school, you don’t need to wear the hijab to stick out, being a Pakistani Muslim is unpopular enough.
So, she starts over, and it is hard. Her only reprieve are her English classes that she loves.
Things start to get better when Arif Malik notices her and one day rescues her from the racist abuses she receives from other class mates. Very quickly Arif and Muzna become inseparable. Muzna starts making a few changes, changes resulting from a willingness to please Arif, a practising Muslim, by becoming a good Muslim girl herself. She decides to explore her faith. Muzna’s parents, in their effort to blend in, are pretty low key when it comes to expressing their faith and it is just how they like it, but to her family’s dismay Muzna starts wearing the hijab to school.
The more Muzna learns about Islam, the more confident she becomes. She also meets Khadijah, a Muslim sister heavily involved with charities who serve by helping others. But it also takes her away from school into some questionable seminars which don’t sit quite right with her, but she puts those aside. As time goes on, Muzna grows into her faith and has a self-assurance that even helps her get through disputes with her parents or abuses and odd looks she receives from people while on the public transport. She can take it, because her and Arif are in love. Sadly, their romance is about to take her an unexpected turn. Arif is only a pawn in his brother Jameel’s plan and nothing will stop his mission.
Muzna’s path to her faith, may have been influenced by her feelings for a young handsome man, but ultimately it is also what could save her, and it is what could help her become who she is meant to be.
Muzna’s is only but one story. I personally do not know what it is like to be a Muslim, but I certainly recall what it was like to be a growing teen and it was pretty complicated.
Muhammad Khan explores the story of typical teen with the added weight of culture and religion. He also shows the beauty and the ugly that comes with it. But ultimately he shows in Muzna, that bravery and truth is human and that it takes strength to walk that path.
Thanking team @MyKindaBook for providing me with an advanced copy of this title.
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