New school, new friends, and tough internal struggles for 12-year-old Nimra Sharif. Barakah Beats melds the growing turmoil into an engaging story.
Nimra has only ever attended an Islamic school but now faces her first experience in a middle school. Best friend Jenna is there to provide support having always gone to public school. It’s apparent though after the first day’s tour Jenna would rather spend time with her regular friends. A situation very confusing and hurtful for Nimra.
She finds a place to pray during lunch which happens to be next to the music room where the 8th grade boy band, Barakah Beats, is rehearsing. They hear 7th grader Nimra singing a prayer and invite her to be part of the group. Joining would mean possibly winning her friend’s attention back. Barakah Beats are admired by almost everyone at the school.
But Nimra’s family does not approve of music or dancing in their religions, although it is made clear not all Muslims share the same belief. Nimra joins the band intending to drop out after getting back her friend, hopefully before her parents find out about her extra-curricular activity.
This might work until the band accepts an invitation to participate in a local talent show. The corner she’s back herself into will either make the band upset if she quits (along with her plan to gaining back her best friend) or her parents upset if she doesn’t. It all peaks into a satisfying conclusion, although one you might not expect.
Staying true to your beliefs is difficult for any middle school age kid. It becomes even more difficult in regards to your religion when it conflicts with the middle school environment. Nimra’s character ARC is flows perfectly, discovering what is important as she engages in her beliefs. Both girls and boys from ages 8 and up would enjoy this story and learn the truth about many aspects of an often misunderstood faith.
BOOK BIRTHDAY: October 19, 2021 PAGE COUNT: 288
FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT BARAKAH BEATS by Nimra Sharif
- The three boy members of the band each had their strengths and were a welcome support group for the younger Nimra. Fun kids with a passion for music.
- It was heartwarming to see outsider Nimra make new friends so quickly upon arriving in a new school. It often doesn’t happen that way.
- The first person narration flows smoothly through 28 chapters. Many of them had me wanting to read just one more before lights out.
- Faith, Family, Friends. A tough trio to make sense of and brought forth so well in this plot. Many chances for discussion in the classroom or home.
- A great story no matter what religion you bring to the table.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Maleeha Siddiqui is an American writer of Pakistani descent who loves to tell unapologetically Muslim stories for all ages. By day, Maleeha works as a regulatory affairs professional in the biotech industry. She grew up and continues to reside with her family in Virginia. “Barakah Beats” (Scholastic 2021) is her debut novel.
Comments are welcome below!
I love to see stories like this one, especially since the Muslim faith is so misunderstood. Nimra is a strong character and I like how she finds her own way. I’m curious about the ending. Tweens will enjoy this read! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for a great review and for hosting MMGM!
What an interesting story problem! Talk about being torn between two cultures, this sounds like a great representation of that. Thanks for telling me about this book. I will be looking for a copy.
I’ve seen this book around and was curious about it. Glad you enjoyed it so much. I hope I find time to read it.
I’ve heard about this book recently, but I had basically no clue what it was about, so I appreciate your summary! I love books that include music in any form, so this one sounds like a lot of fun—and great representation too, which is nice to see. And the cover is awesome—it just radiates fun! Thanks so much for the great review, Greg!