Contemporary, Music, Religion
October 19th, 2021
Twelve-year-old Nimra Sharif has spent her whole life in Islamic school, but her grandparents – who have never quite seen eye-to-eye with her parents on how to raise her – think it’s time she goes to “real school.” Nimra’s nervous, but as long as she has Jenna, her best friend who already goes to public school, plus with her trusty sketchbooks, she figures she can take on just about anything.
But middle school sucks. The teachers are mean, the schedule is confusing, and Jenna starts giving hijab-wearing Nimra the cold shoulder around the other kids. Desperate to fit in and get back in Jenna’s good graces, Nimra accepts an unlikely invitation to join the school’s popular 8th-grade boy band, Barakah Beats. The only problem is, Nimra was taught that music isn’t allowed in Islam, and she’s pretty sure her parents would be disappointed if they found out. So she devises a simple plan: join the band, win Jenna back, then quietly drop out before her parents find out.
But dropping out of the band proves harder than expected. Not only is her plan to get Jenna back working, but Nimra really likes hanging out with the band—they value her contributions and respect how important her faith is to her. Then Barakah Beats signs up for a talent show to benefit refugees, and Nimra’s lies start to unravel. With the show only a few weeks away and Jenna’ friendship hanging in the balance, Nimra has to decide if winning her friend back is worth giving up everything—and everyone—she cares about.
Barakah Beats is a middle-grade contemporary novel that will appeal to fans of Hena Khan’s Amina’s Voice and Celia C. Pérez's The First Rule of Punk.