Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin’s Hijab

Abrams/Amulet. Sept. 2021. 224p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781419740169; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781419740190.
Gr 7 Up–In Portland, OR, in 2002, eighth grader Nisrin Moniruzzaman is proud to share her Bangladeshi heritage and cultural dress with her school community during a celebration of world cultures. But on her way home from school with a friend who is Black and Iranian, the girls suffer a violent racist attack, and Nisrin’s orna, a shawl-like scarf, is ripped from her head. In the following months, both girls struggle to heal. After visiting the home of a young cousin who wears a hijab, Nisrin decides to start wearing the headscarf as she begins high school. Her choice challenges her mother and her maternal grandparents, with whom she lives, and makes her a target for Islamophobia at school; it also serves as a catalyst for her to learn more about Islam and her family’s feelings about the religion, their experiences in Bangladesh, and the country’s tumultuous history, including Bangladesh’s relationship with Pakistan (although readers will need to look elsewhere for a nuanced account of conflict in the region). Vivid illustrations capture the characters’ raw feelings and move the narrative along quickly, making it feel slightly rushed at times. “A Guide to Bangladesh’’ written from the perspective of Nisrin at the end of the novel includes a map of the region and provides additional insight about the country, its people, and the author’s family.
VERDICT A solid addition to collections of all types and a welcome exploration of what it means to navigate the complexities of Muslim identity in the United States.

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