Posts Tagged ‘teenage’

An interview with Na’ima B. Robert about her forthcoming book SHE WORE RED TRAINERS

Written by site_admin on . Posted in Children's Books, News and events

This article was commissioned and published by Books for Keeps. Read the original article here.

Naima B Robert

 

 

 

 

 

Na’ima B Robert is ‘descended from Scottish Highlanders on her father’s side and the Zulu people on her mother’s, was born in Leeds, grew up in Zimbabwe, went to university in London and now ‘divides her time between London and Cairo’. Unsurprising, then, that her novels trade in contrasts and conflicts: between cultures, youth and experience, artistic and academic, religious and secular. But her new book, She Wore Red Trainers, is a love story. Geraldine Brennan talked to Na’ima about the book for Books for Keeps.

She Wore Red Trainers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A long hot summer waiting for A-level results, a cute boy and an opinionated girl – does a romcom-inspired plot have to be any less page-turning because the characters are Muslim?

Na’ima B Robert believes not, but her portrayal of Amirah and Ali’s growing relationship in She Wore Red Trainers, her fifth young adult novel, reflects life for contemporary young Muslims whose contact with the opposite sex is structured by the traditions of their faith and community.

So the instant physical attraction between Amirah and Ali cannot be acted on overtly: they cannot be alone together (even making eye contact is frowned upon) and it is assumed that their relationships are the business of their families.

Amirah’s influences include her divorced mother, a convert to Islam whose unhappy experiences have turned her daughter away from the early marriage that many young Muslims choose. Meanwhile her traditionally minded brother Zayd, who is responsible for approving her future husband, has rejected Ali as a potential suitor on a first meeting.

Na’ima has rooted the love story firmly in urban British Muslim culture, to offer both a story that teens growing up in this culture can relate to and a challenge to preconceived ideas about attitudes to marriage and relationships in Muslim families, such as the tradition of arranged marriage. As founding editor of the UK Muslim women’s magazine, Sisters, Na’ima is aware of the wide spectrum of interpretations of tradition, ‘more cultural than religious’, as she says.

‘I’m not saying that all Muslims live like the families in the story, but I have tried to be true to the community I am writing about and where young people I know are coming from,’ she says. ‘In a family that is functioning well the family would be highly invested in the girl’s future but it would start from what the girl really wants and she would have a space to understand and articulate that and discuss it in depth.

‘There are many variations within this. Amirah’s family is not functioning so well, her brother doesn’t understand her and her mother makes some bad decisions because she doesn’t have a lot of supportive relatives around. Zayd feels the responsibility of a father but he doesn’t have a lot of life experience and his default position is that he wants Amirah to marry someone like himself.’

But Amirah is a rebel and rejects the man Zayd chooses for her. ‘Hassan is a catch but her gut feeling says no: the gut feeling is important however you meet future partners,’ Na’ima says. ‘In an ideal world your family would understand everything you needed in a husband – in Amirah’s case this is someone who really gets her artistic side, which Ali does.’

The ‘nobody-understands-me’ misery that afflicts both Amirah and Ali is common to all teens, and Na’ima’s own teenage years in a westernised high school in Zimbabwe (she converted to Islam at 21) taught her the benefits of a more segregated environment.

‘There was pressure to cultivate a personality that boys liked. I would see girls switch on the bimbo button when boys were around and laugh at boys’ jokes whether they wanted to or not. I was at a mixed school and at 14 asked my parents to send me to a girls’ school. I found the constant pressure too much.

‘Surviving dating, the uncertainties and the heartache, and somehow keeping your self-esteem intact, is very hard for teens. It’s one of the biggest things you have to deal with at a time when you need a space to grow up and be yourself, find out who you are.’

Amirah has also tried and rejected a more mainstream teenage lifestyle and chosen to navigate relationships within Muslim culture. As in all good romcoms, she finds the space she needs with her girlfriends, who support her plan to stay single until she has made the life she wants as an artist. Although the girls have compiled a league table of fanciable boys, the lack of male companions at their café meetings, summer charity projects and glitzy nights out is presented as a benefit rather than a deprivation, as Na’ima says.

‘For Amirah and her friends, the decision is made that guys aren’t going to be part of the picture at the moment. Dating and romance is not taking up their time, it’s for later.’

Yet the story, with all its disappointments and misunderstandings between the couple who survive on a word here and a glance there, is still deeply romantic: ‘just a different kind of romance’.

Na’ima’s first readers were Muslim teenagers in Cairo where she lives for part of the year with her husband and four children. ‘They found the British teenagers different to themselves in their references to Islam – in Egypt it’s not consciously discussed in the same way. But they saw where the characters and relationships were coming from. I consciously went for a very dramatic ending and I’ve heard that many people cry at the end.’

She Wore Red Trainers is published by Kube Publishing.

Geraldine Brennan is a journalist specialising in children’s books and education, regularly reviews for theObserver and has judged several literary awards.

She Wore Red Trainers Preview ~ by Na’ima B Robert

Written by site_admin on . Posted in Children's Books

For fans of romantic fiction and readers of Na’ima B Robert we are very pleased to have a preview of She Wore Red Trainers, her forthcoming halal romance, to download.

She Wore Red Trainers is about life, love and Islam and how young adult Muslims find their path.

Ali loves basketball and motorbikes, volunteers at a children’s summer camp and has big plans for a gap year teaching in Mexico

Amirah is a gifted artist who also enjoys hanging out with her opinionated, noisy girlfriends, scoffing burgers, planning glitzy nights in and compiling a league table of fanciable boys..

The pair have similar ambitions, hopes and dreams to any bright, urban 18-year-olds, but when they fall in love at first sight during a long South London summer spent waiting for their A-level results, what follows is not straightforward.

As Muslims who have tried and rejected a mainstream teenage lifestyle, Ali and Amirah must fit their attempts to get to know each other around the expectations of their families and the rules of their religion. They almost never get a chance to speak, even exchanging glances is frowned upon and there are endless misunderstandings and disappointments.

Can they experience the normal passions and adventures of young adulthood while remaining true to the deen (spiritual path) of Islam?

Will they have a halal happily ever after?

Preview download

SHE WORE RED TRAINERS PREVIEW
CLICK THE PICTURE TO DOWNLOAD

 

 

The Great Race to Sycamore Street – Free reference sheet

Written by site_admin on . Posted in Children's Books

9781847740571

The Great Race to Sycamore Street is a fun adventure story featuring two Muslim children. It is for children aged between 9 and 14, and will not only entertain them but give them some wonderful insights into the character of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and their faith.

In the story a prominent character is Grandma Hana’s peach tree. This famous and cherished tree is not only used to find fruit to fill one of Grandma Hana’s famous pies, it also offers the children Hude and Amani an example for themselves. In order to get the best fruit the tree must have firm roots, a strong trunk, several branches and an abundance of leaves. And, similarly in order for people to have good character they must have firm belief at their root, a strong faith in the oneness of Allah, and the Prophethood of Muhammad, perform several acts that testify to their faith and belief such as prayer, fasting and giving charity, and follow the abundant actions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), our guide. If people have those features their fruits will be good character, such as such patience, honesty, kindness and generosity. Even when faced with nasty neighbours!

The Great Race to Sycamore Street also sees Hude and Amani challenged by their Grandma Hana to follow the example of the Prophet (pbuh), his Sunnah. She encourages them to be kind to their neighbour’s dog after it eats their cookies, to be quick to calm and slow to anger when faced with bullying, practice archery and be good to neighbours, even if they aren’t nice to you.  By the end of the story Hude and Amani are challenging each other to act in these exemplary ways.

Specific verses in the Qur’an and ahadith (plural of hadith) are mentioned in The Great Race to Sycamore Street because Muslim parents and guardians often refer to these two sources when instructing children on how to behave and what constitutes good character. Hence, we are providing the references below to share with readers in case they wish to find the original sources that inspired the author themselves.

 

To download the free Qur’an and Hadith references please click the link below.

The Great Race to Sycamore Street – hadith and quran references

 

 

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