Any Way You Look

Scholastic. May 2024. 256p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781339010267.
Gr 3-7–Ainy Zain, aspiring fashion designer, has a lot going for her as she finishes sixth grade. She convinced her mother to let Ainy work in her clothing store for the summer, which means she doesn’t have time for her best friend Safiya’s dream summer to-do list. While her father is in Pakistan caring for her ailing grandmother, her family has moved into the basement of her childhood friend Izyaan, whom she has started to develop feelings for. Ainy has been taking steps towards wearing a hijab, while her older sister has suddenly decided to stop wearing hers. Her mother agreed to let her design bridesmaid dresses for the mother of the boy who has not stopped harassing her since summer began. This was supposed to be Ainy’s summer, but amid boy troubles, friendship troubles, and financial troubles, it’s not shaping up how she planned. This is a beautiful story that discusses important themes such as faith, family, friendship, bodily autonomy, and standing up for yourself in a way that is accessible for a middle grade audience. Wonderfully crafted, the story presented is a reflection of real life, showing that not everything turns out the way it is expected to. Ainy is a character tweens will relate to and admire, and her story is one that needs to be told.
VERDICT Give this story to children everywhere. A powerful story of finding your voice and using it to advocate for yourself.

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