We are so excited to feature award-winning author, Reem Faruqi this month on our blog! Her second middle grade book in verse, Golden Girl, comes out this month! She shares below how her experience inspired the book.
It happens slowly yet swiftly. A red lipstick.
A gold necklace.
A makeup bag.
The list lengthens.
My friend is taking my things.
The set is gorgeous. Rubies and pearls. I have never been a big jewelry person, but holding my grandmother’s delicate jewelry and hearing the stories of who passed it on to who, where it was worn, changes everything. Woven into the intricate jewelry are stories I have not heard … yet.
It takes me a while to realize it’s me. Other people are mumbling. My mother tells me I should get my hearing checked. The thing about hearing loss is that it’s typically irreversible, something I never knew. And the cause remains unknown. Currently, my hearing loss is mild and in one ear. I did not realize until masks became a fixture that it has become harder to understand the grocery store cashier, that without the visual cues of seeing someone’s whole face, conversation is trickier.
These three experiences are bits and pieces of what I wove into my latest middle grade novel in verse, GOLDEN GIRL. Real experiences are typically what I weave into my stories. I fictionalize them, but at the base of some of my fiction is something real. Raw emotions that I have experienced. Drawing on these experiences, I can understand what my character is feeling because I may have gone through it.
In GOLDEN GIRL, my character Aafiyah Qamar has mild hearing loss. She struggles with being attracted to pretty little things and may ‘borrow’ them. Jewelry plays a part in her coming-of-age story.
I initially resisted writing Aafiyah’s story. Aafiyah has flaws, big ones, yet I could hear her compelling voice in my head. Through writing GOLDEN GIRL, I learned Aafiyah didn’t need to be instantly likeable, but she did need to be redeemable.
In my story, I infused humor, a strong family dynamic, my Muslim faith, and a lot of heart. After some hard lessons that Aafiyah learns, she learns to move forward and do what’s right, to try again. Because no matter what age we are, we all deserve a second chance.
From the award-winning, ALA Notable author of Unsettled and Lailah’s Lunchbox, this is a captivating coming-of-age middle grade novel in verse about seventh grader Aafiyah Qamar, a Pakistani American girl who hatches a special plan to help her family but finds that doing what’s right isn’t always easy. For fans of The Thing About Jellyfish and Clean Getaway, this is a heartfelt, soul-searching story with laughter, hope, and lessons learned.
Seventh grader Aafiyah loves playing tennis, reading Weird but True facts, and hanging out with her best friend, Zaina. However, Aafiyah has a bad habit that troubles her—she’s drawn to pretty things and can’t help but occasionally “borrow” them.
But when her father is falsely accused of a crime he hasn’t committed and gets taken in by authorities, Aafiyah knows she needs to do something to help. When she brainstorms a way to bring her father back, she turns to her Weird but True facts and devises the perfect plan.
But what if her plan means giving in to her bad habit, the one she’s been trying to stop? Aafiyah wants to reunite her family but finds that maybe her plan isn’t so perfect after all.
"A story about family, friendship, change, and hope." --Kirkus
“In Aafiyah, Faruqi creates a relatable but flawed protagonist whose road to redemption makes for an engaging, warmhearted story.” --Booklist
"Much like in her previous novel Unsettled, Faruqi’s elegantly crafted verse illuminates a Muslim family navigating and ultimately transcending domestic challenges." --Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“This story [has] a well-characterized, flawed heroine and a lot of heart.” --Publishers Weekly
Book Launch link here.
Reem Faruqi is the award-winning children’s book author of Lailah’s Lunchbox, a book based on her own experiences as a young Muslim girl immigrating to the United States. She’s also the author of “Amira’s Picture Day,” “I Can Help,” and a middle grade debut novel in verse, “Unsettled” which all got starred reviews. After surviving Atlanta traffic and the school drop off, Reem spends her days trying to write, but instead gets distracted easily by her camera and buttery sunlight. Reem Faruqi lives in Atlanta with her husband and three daughters.
Instagram and Twitter @ReemFaruqi