... a Little Women retelling


Jameela "Jam" Mirza (13)  is a 7th grader who aspires to be a journalist. Her family needs money, so her father is interviewing for a well-paying job in Abu Dhabi (which he is offered and accepts). With her dad living in the United Arab Emirates for six months, Jameela feels abandoned. Her father understands her the best. Now Jam, her mom, and three sisters must keep the family as functional as possible. Enter Ali, the nephew of one of her father's best friends. Just arrived from London, Ali will be in Jam's school this fall.

Jam can't wait for school. As an editor for the newspaper, she has grand plans to make it relevant for students. This is her chance to become a journalist like her grandfather. She writes an article that she thinks will make her father proud, but it is not well accepted.

Then another disaster hits. Her sister Bisma is diagnosed with lymphoma, a type of cancer, and Jam is confused. Throughout her journey of trying to find her way as a journalist and help her family, Jam makes friends. Gradually, she finds a way to fix her unsettled family, in her own, special way.

BTSYA / Teen Reader (12):
More to the Story is a book that is relatable for all tweens. It sheds light on the importance of family and friendship, in a lighthearted manner. The main character is a Pakistani-American and she introduces readers to a new culture. Jameela’s persistence to build her path to becoming a journalist is inspiring.

After reading this book, all tweens can believe in themselves and pursue their passion. As I read this book, I couldn’t help but take in the articulate writing, and I found myself deep in the plot. I would recommend this book to 10-year-olds and older. There are some concepts that younger kids may not fully be able to grasp. More to the Story is the perfect fit for readers looking for a feel-good book.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

This is a contemporary retelling of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. While the story has some clear parallels to the original, it also has some fresh perspectives as well. This is a lovely family story for everyone.

Content Awareness Factors:

None, other than a sister who is diagnosed with cancer. 

Type of Book:
This is a retelling of Little Women with a diverse cast and set in contemporary times.
Educational Themes:

Jam begins a "family" newspaper of sorts. If your reader created such a thing, what kinds of stories would they write about? Where would they draw the line on what shouldn't be published?

Having heard Jam's mom's reasons for "no social media until high school," and now knowing a bit more about Jameela, what do your readers think of her mother's position?

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
10 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
10 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer’s Age: 12
Purchase Recommendation:
Borrow. This is fun to read, and a lovely story, but as it is a retelling of a classic, you aren't likely to go back to it.

Title More to the Story
Author Hena Khan
Publisher Salaam Reads, Imprint Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers © 2019
ISBN 9781481492096
Material Hard Cover
Cost $17.99
Genres Family, Contemporary Fiction, Middle East | Arab People
be the star you are Cybils
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