I just finished reading Sadia by Winnipeg author Colleen Nelson. It is a novel about a young Muslim woman facing the pressures most teens do as they deal with friends, faith, family, school work, extracurricular activities and their first romantic feelings. There were many ways I connected with the book.
- It is set in my home city. Although Sadia’s family is from Damascus in Syria they have immigrated to Winnipeg where her Dad is a professor at the University of Manitoba and her Mom works at the Millennium Library. I liked coming across familiar places in the novel.
- Sadia, a grade nine student, is crazy about basketball. I was a die-hard fan when both of my sons played basketball in junior high and high school. I could understand Sadia’s devotion to the game.
- I loved the photography assignment Sadia’s teacher Mr.Letner gave his class. When I taught high school journalism I did a unit on photography and Mr Letner shows his students some of the same award-winning photos I used in my teaching.
- I am a big fan of Nadia Kidwai the CBC radio morning weekend host. She has such a warm way with her guests and listeners. Nadia acted as a consultant for this book. Sadia the main character wears a hijab and so does Nadia.
Author Colleen Nelson, a Winnipeg teacher, says she wrote Sadia at the request of a Muslim student who was disappointed there were so few novels with Muslim young women as the protagonists.
Another book I have read that has a Muslim young woman as the main character is Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali. It is however directed more towards an older adolescent audience while I think Sadia might be enjoyed more by younger teens.
I learned more about the war in Syria from reading this book.
I learned what it might be like to wear a hijab.
I learned about an amazing worldwide project called If You Give a Kid a Camera.
I was introduced to Colleen Nelson. This is the first of her novels I have read and it made me want to read more of them.