by Ashley Dickson-Ellison (@teachingtheapocalypse)
I absolutely loved this beautiful collection of short stories, Once Upon an Eid (Libro.fm | Bookshop.org), edited by S. K. Ali (author of Saints and Misfits) and Aisha Saeed (author of Amal Unbound, a podcast favorite!). I listened to this one on audio, and the narration was outstanding!
This collection is a gorgeous middle-grade work, and it conveys a wide array of different experiences, all of which center on Muslims celebrating Eid. The stories depict celebrations of both Eid-al-Adha and Eid-al-Fitr. As you may well know, both Eids follow the lunar calendar, so the dates change from year to year. Eid-al-Fitr, the "feast of breaking the fast," marks the end of Ramadan. Eid-al-Adha is the "feast of the sacrifice," and it celebrates Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience. The book includes celebrations of both Eids.
Our family had a phenomenal time in Morocco this past summer, and being there helped me realize just how little I know about Islam and the celebrations that accompany it, so I'm loving reading more about Eid and some of the beautiful ways that it's celebrated around the world. I thoroughly enjoyed the stories in this collection as individual works, but I also really appreciated the way that they functioned together as a whole. They work together by showing just how different the experiences of the characters around the world can be—and yet they are all united by the joy of celebrating Eid, no matter how vastly divergent those experiences might otherwise be.
"Always look beyond what your eyes originally recognize and discover what is real, what is possible, and what is the truth."
In these stories, told by 15 different Muslim authors, we encounter so many different characters who are each in unique circumstances. We meet Muslim girls who are excited to wear the hijab for the first time. We see a pre-teen girl who is converting to Islam with her family and who experiences Eid for the first time with a mix of trepidation and excitement. We meet a young girl who is used to being the only Muslim girl in her school, and we watch her navigate meeting and eventually welcoming another Muslim girl into the community. We see kids navigating hard times like divorce and the sickness of a parent, and yet we see how anchors like the celebration of Eid can help carry them through those tumultuous times. We even meet kids who are refugees in hard circumstances living in camps with little to celebrate—and yet we watch them find the magic of Eid even in those hard times.
I absolutely loved this brilliant collection (which would be perfect for our holiday reads recommendations episode that just released on Wednesday!). I learned a lot of things I didn't know, and I appreciated the thoughtful work of the editors who put together such a powerful and diverse collection of stories. I can't wait to share this one with my daughters!
Here is the full list of authors within the collection from Goodreads: "The full list of Once Upon an Eid contributors include: G. Willow Wilson (Alif the Unseen, Ms. Marvel), Hena Khan (Amina's Voice, Under My Hijab), N. H. Senzai (Shooting Kabul, Escape from Aleppo), Hanna Alkaf (The Weight of Our Sky), Rukhsana Khan (Big Red Lollipop), Randa Abdel-Fattah (Does My Head Look Big in This?), Ashley Franklin (Not Quite Snow White), Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow (Mommy's Khimar), Candice Montgomery (Home and Away, By Any Means Necessary), Huda Al-Marashi (First Comes Marriage), Ayesha Mattu, Asmaa Hussein, and Sara Alfageeh."
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