November/December 2021 Kids Indie Next List
“Such a pleasure to read! Barakah Beats is an enlightening look at middle school, with all its angst and energy, through the eyes of a devout Muslim girl. It shows that though we might have differences, we have so much in common, too.”
— Vicky Titcomb, Titcomb's Bookshop, East Sandwich, MA
For fans of The First Rule of Punk and Save Me a Seat, Barakah Beats is a sweet, powerful, and joyous novel about a Muslim girl who finds her voice on her own terms... by joining her school's most popular boy band.
Twelve-year-old Nimra Sharif has spent her whole life in Islamic school, but now it's time to go to "real school."
Nimra's nervous, but as long as she has Jenna, her best friend who already goes to the public school, she figures she can take on just about anything.
Unfortunately, middle school is hard. 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 knows 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's friendship hanging in the balance, Nimra has to decide whether to betray her bandmates—or herself.
About the Author
Maleeha Siddiqui is a first-generation Pakistani-American Muslim living in Virginia. When she isn't writing, she can be found working at a biotech company or hanging out with her family. Barakah Beats is based on her own experiences growing up in America as a young practicing Muslim.
Praise for Barakah Beats:
A Summer/Fall 2021 Indies Introduce Pick
A Junior Library Guild Selection
A B&N Most Anticipated Release of October
"Superb! Nimra is a joy to cheer for in a nuanced story that will leave readers thinking about how to navigate complex ethical choices." —Alex Gino, award-winning author of George
"Equal parts fun and serious, Barakah Beats is a lovely story that will resonate with countless kids growing up between two cultures and faiths. Nimra is just the heroine middle-school readers are searching for." —Saadia Faruqi, author of A Thousand Questions
"Finally! A story about a young Muslim girl trying to fit in while also staying true to her values, beliefs, family, and culture. Sweet and relatable—I couldn’t put it down!" — Huda Fahmy, creator of Huda F Are You?
"This book should come with a warning label—you won’t be able to stop reading once you start! I tumble-down fell in love." —Wendy Wan-Long Shang, author of Not Your All-American Girl (co-authored with Madelyn Rosenberg)
"This lively, heartfelt book hits all the right notes." —Rajani LaRocca, author of Red, White, and Whole
"If you love an irrepressible heroine and the story of underdogs stopping at nothing to be seen and heard, Barakah Beats is a must-read. The Muslim rep is beautiful and important—pure joy for any reader. The raucous rhythms of Nimra's story bursts through from every page. I'm a Barakah Beats stan for life!" —Stephan Lee, author of K-Pop Confidential
* "It's a delight to watch Nimra navigate school, family, and friendships while taking pride in her religion and abilities. She's a wonderful, confident kid who has no patience for stereotyping or unkindness, and the story gives her room to examine her faith, make mistakes, and get a little messy. Fraught family relationships, shifting friendships, differing religious practices—they're big topics, but debut-author Siddiqui deftly tackles them with warmth, humor, and compassion." —Booklist, starred review
* "Every elementary and middle school library will benefit from this touching story about a preteen struggling to reconcile faith, friends, and family against the backdrop of an American middle school." —School Library Journal, starred review
"Siddiqui has written a sympathetic character who wants to stay true to her beliefs while facing the pressures of school, changing relationships, and diverse beliefs about music within Muslim communities. An important story about staying true to yourself." —Kirkus Reviews