84 pages 2 hours read

Hena Khan

Amina's Voice

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2017

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

Important Quotes

Quotation Mark Icon

“When it was time for the performance, I looked out into the audience, saw the sea of faces, and froze. There was this endless moment when the world grew still and waited for me to speak. But I couldn’t open my mouth. My teacher, Mr. Silver, finally jumped in and said my line for me, with a joke about how John Hancock had lost his voice but was going to sign his name extra big to make up for it. The audience laughed and the show went on while I burned with humiliation. I can still hear Luke and his friend jeering at me from the side of the stage.”

(Chapter 1, Page 4)

This passage elucidates the reasons for Amina’s stage fright, which is a major element of the story. It is significant that Amina’s stage fright derives from an incident of inexpertly playing the role of one of America’s founding fathers. This plotting and detail choice communicates that the mandate placed upon first-generation children to assimilate into America has far-reaching emotional consequences. By the narrative’s end, Amina has found her voice again—not through pretending to be John Hancock, but by embracing her own passions and hybrid identity, and by singing a Sam Cook song. This trajectory implicitly communicates that first-generation immigrant children should not be forced to accept and parrot American history without regard for their own places within it. Rather, they should be given the room the hybridize and synthesize both the American and the international parts of themselves.

Quotation Mark Icon

“I wait for Soojin to answer, expecting her to say something to send Emily scurrying. Even though the cat gets my tongue when either Emily or Julie come prowling, Soojin never has any problem telling them exactly what she thinks. But Soojin just says, ‘I’m thinking of new names for myself.’”

(Chapter 1, Pages 6-7)

In this quote, Emily (Amina and Soojin’s erstwhile bully) has joined Amina and Soojin in conversation. This passage crisply delineates the differences between Amina and Soojin. Firstly, Soojin has a more openly fiery and assertive personality than Amina, as evidenced by her lack of “any problem telling [people] exactly what she thinks.” Secondly, Soojin is warming to Emily, whom Amina does not initially like or trust.