Drawing Deena

S. & S./Salaam Reads. Feb. 2024. 240p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534459915.
Gr 3-6–Deena, a seventh grade Pakistani American girl, has such stress and anxiety over things like growing up, her family’s finances, and not feeling quite as mature as her cousin, that she grinds her teeth at night and has trouble eating breakfast first thing in the morning. When she tries to use her artistic talents to help her mother’s clothing business, she quickly hits some snags with family and friends. Can she get past her worries and find her voice to express her feelings? Like Khan’s other middle grade novels, this book is written with an authentic middle school voice and blends culture, realistic worries, and mental health in a way upper elementary school and young middle school readers will appreciate. Deena is figuring out who she is in relation to her artistic skills, but still has to tow the line with her mother’s expectations and concerns about what others will think of her. The chapters are quick and fast-paced, making the story fly by with proper resolutions. Readers will root for Deena because her struggles will resonate with their own.
VERDICT An excellent read for elementary and middle school collections not the least because of its authentic voice and pacing.

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