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Twitter Pushes to Support Muslim #OwnVoices Books

Twitter is no stranger to activism and movements, and the latest movement is #MissionMuslimPreorder.  Started by Diya Mishra, the hashtag is being used to raise YA books written by Muslims with Muslim protagonists and prevent the use of a single story that leads to misrepresentation.

The project began on December 3rd with a thread of six tweets and book recommendations with the goal of introducing 50 readers to these Muslim voices.  As of yesterday, the goal of preordering 50 books had been surpassed and 77 Muslim #ownvoices books had been ordered.

What books were recommended?

The Gauntlet, by Karuna Riazi

A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair.

Saints, Misfits, Monsters, and Mayhem, by S.K. Ali

Saints, Misfits, Monsters, and Mayhem is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.

How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.

And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.

While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tight-knit Muslim community think of her then?

That Thing We Call a Heart, by Shiba Karim

This young adult novel by Sheba Karim, author of Skunk Girl, is a funny and affecting coming-of-age story for fans of Jenny Han, Megan McCafferty, and Sara Farizan.

Shabnam Qureshi is facing a summer of loneliness and boredom until she meets Jamie, who scores her a job at his aunt’s pie shack. Shabnam quickly finds herself in love, while her former best friend, Farah, who Shabnam has begun to reconnect with, finds Jamie worrying.

In her quest to figure out who she really is and what she really wants, Shabnam looks for help in an unexpected place—her family, and her father’s beloved Urdu poetry.

That Thing We Call a Heart is a funny and fresh story about the importance of love—in all its forms.

During a time where the country is separated more than it has been in years and where diversity in media is not portrayed or is portrayed in such a way that is not true, uplifting the voices of the marginalized is not just important, but crucial.  The #ownvoices hashtag, used to recommend, highlight, and uplift books with authors and protagonists of a shared marginalized identity, is promoting narratives written by those who experience that narrative.  It is not an outside source’s take on a story, but the truth.  It’s getting the story from those who experience it and taking back the narrative.  It’s fighting for representation that doesn’t reduce a character to their faith or the other stereotypes associated with their race or faith and showing that a marginalized community’s story is valid and deserves to be told.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said it best in her TED Talk: “Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity….When we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise.”

As the hashtag continues to be used, more and more books are being recommended.  Jump on Twitter and search the hashtag #MissionMuslimPreorder to find more recommendations and recommend your favorites.

Written by Allison Schonter

Binger of TV. Writer of words. Forever daydreaming about fictional characters. My current obsessions include The 100, The Walking Dead, Fear The Walking Dead, and Wynonna Earp. So go ahead and talk to me about those.

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