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Thursday, 26 September 2013

Review: Amina (Through My Eyes #2)

Amina’s family has survived years of war in their homeland of Somalia. After watching the lives of others torn apart, Amina’s family finally feels the impact of the ongoing war in a heartbreakingly personal way. First, Amina’s father is arrested and then her brother is abducted by the militant group Al-Shabaab.

What can Amina do to help provide for her aging grandmother and pregnant mother when it isn’t safe for her to venture outdoors alone? She desperately wants to share a message of hope with her community through her artworks, but will she only put her family in more danger with the street art she creates?

I was fascinated by the first book in the Through My Eyes series, Shahana (KBR review here), and the second book offers an equally fascinating insight into the lives of families, particularly children, in a volatile conflict zone.

Amina and her family live in Mogadishu, Somalia, a city that has endured decades of drought and conflict. Amina’s father is arrested as his artwork is considered un-Islamic and Amina is unsure who she can trust in the wake of the betrayal of her family. With her brother’s abduction she faces even more challenges as cultural restrictions limit her ability to move freely outside her home.

 The Through My Eyes series not only educates readers about different conflict zones through the world, it does so in a way that relates the impact of ongoing war and civil unrest back to families and children. The stories are interesting and in many ways relatable for readers as they also offer wonderful insight into the day to day life of families and children in different cultures including family relationships and responsibilities, school, meals and the role of community.

Amina also offers the opportunity for readers to consider the deeper issues of the role art plays in expressing ideas and beliefs, conveying emotions and communicating with others. The artworks of Amina and her father represent their feelings for their homeland and their hopes for a more positive future for the city and country they both love. The story offers some interesting discussion points for the role of art in society and the consequences of repressing artistic expression.

I highly recommend the Through My Eyes series, and the first two books Shahana and Amina in particular, as an excellent resource for homes and classrooms to help older primary school and early teen readers gain insight into cultures other than their own. You can find more information about the series at the Through My Eyes website and there are teachers’ notes available.

Title: Amina (Through Her Eyes #2)
Author: J L Powers
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, $15.99 RRP
Publication Date:1 September 2013
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781743312490
For ages: 11+
Type: Middle Fiction

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