I am grateful for this realist fiction novel because the author understands what it is like to be a middle grader who loves art and suffers from the possibility of her future.
Told in the first person, the main character deals with panic attacks, self-doubt, and stress but her parents are willing to help her instead of thinking children have no reason to worry.
Middle-grade school is not an easy season of a child's life and wanting to be an artist in a family that comes from the mindset of surviving in America after the sacrifices of emigration adds to the stress.
Children who read this book will understand that choosing to become an artist is not just a state of mind or emotion, it implies lots of hard work, constantly improving, practicing, learning new techniques, rewriting oneself, and ways of thinking to improve others and the world around them.
It's great that we get a lot of Van Gogh's facts but that the character realizes that many contemporary women artists deserve a chance and the character too must find her voice.
Still, Deena contributes to her mother's business and I love that her parents contribute to her education with the most important instruments in starting the path of an artist: support, teamwork, acceptance, and motivation. Having the right support of the right people makes all the difference.
The author is right, thoughts can become feelings, and unintended they can be harmful or bring us creative joy.
Thank you, Publisher and Netgalley for this digital advance copy.
From the Publisher:
From the award-winning author of Amina’s Voice and Amina’s Song comes a tenderhearted middle grade novel about a young Pakistani American artist determined to manage her anxiety and forge her own creative path.
Deena’s never given a name to the familiar knot in her stomach that appears when her parents argue about money, when it’s time to go to school, or when she struggles to find the right words. She manages to make it through each day with the help of her friends and the art she loves to make.
While her parents’ money troubles cause more and more stress, Deena wonders if she can use her artistic talents to ease their burden. She creates a logo and social media account to promote her mom’s home-based business selling clothes from Pakistan to the local community. With her cousin and friends modeling the outfits and lending their social media know-how, business picks up.
But the success and attention make Deena’s cousin and best friend, Parisa, start to act funny. Suddenly Deena’s latest creative outlet becomes another thing that makes her feel nauseated and unsure of herself. After Deena reaches a breaking point, both she and her mother learn the importance of asking for help and that, with the right support, Deena can create something truly beautiful.