Books by Muslim Authors, Middle Grade Books

Rumaysa by Radiya Hafiza – ARC Review

This is the book kid me needed and I am so glad it exists now and so wonderfully written.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

This funny and empowering story weaves together three classic fairytales into one new adventure with an unusual structural twist: Rumaysa is a Muslim girl who lets her hijab down from a tall tower in order to escape. Set in a magical version of South Asia, Rumaysa explores enchanted forests and dragon lairs, teaming up with Cinderayla and Sleeping Sara along the way to create a strong sense of sisterhood. 

I loved this book so much! The story was fun and entertaining and also full of south Asian culture that was so familiar to me and the best part was that the characters were Muslim! Muslim princess fairytales, books I wish I could I have had as a kid.

I loved way that Radiya made each story her own while still keeping the original fairytale recognisable. While we don’t get to see all the illustrations in the arc we do get one of Rumaysa in her tower and it’s so cute. My finished copy has arrived and I can say that the art is amazing! Girls in hijab, south Asian culture on full display, I love it so much!

I really loved how three fairytales were woven together with Rumaysa as the central character but not overtaking the other stories. It was so well done and such a wonderful surprise to read those twists. I loved how her hijab is key to her escaping the tower and that we see her struggle with being so isolated and alone. Her sole companion is an owl who helps her escape and is her eyes to the outside world. It was also so great to see that Rumaysa mentions praying her daily prayers and that it gave her structure to her day. The way they were just included as a normal part of her just made me smile.

Rumaysa is a wonderful character, she is determined and resilient and because she has never been outside so she is so grateful for all the experiences she now gets to see because she has missed out for many years and it reminded me of how girls are kept incredibly sheltered and not allowed to experience things and kept at home and so miss out on so many things. Sara’s story is also similar in that because her parents are afraid of losing her they go to extremes to keep her safe but that puts her at a disadvantage and she is unable to help those that she is responsible for. It shows how girls are so much more capable than adults give them credit for.

I really loved all three stories even though I’m not a fan of the original Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty story. I especially loved how the princesses saved themselves instead of waiting for a prince to turn up to save them. They helped and supported each other and they knew their worth. Especially Ayla who stood her ground and said she doesn’t want to be with someone who thinks wealth and looks is so important. Ayla’s step sisters also were a nice surprise. They copied the way their mother behaved towards her and it shows that children will copy what adults will do. But they also knew it wasn’t okay and eventually changed for the better and stood up for themselves too.

I loved this book so much and how message of girls supporting girls but also how toxic masculinity was tackled too through Suleiman. He doesn’t want to be the type of boy that his parents expect and push him into her prefers building things and being creative, not being outdoors all the time and that this is okay too. This book tackles many issues that are prevalent in the south Asian community in a way kids can understand but also not being so heavy that it takes away from the fun and magic of the story.

Give this book to all the kids you know. Everyone deserves to see themselves as the hero in the story and this book made kid me so very happy.

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