Cover Image: Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin's Hijab

Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin's Hijab

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Such a great story! Will absolutely be adding this to my classroom library. I know so many students have questions about hijab but are afraid to ask. This will also make my students that wear hijab feel represented
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Piece by Piece is a middle-grade graphic novel about Nisrin, a 13-year-old Bangladeshi-American living in Oregon in 2002. One day she is viciously attacked for wearing a headscarf. After spending the summer isolated and trying to recover from the trauma, she decides to start high school wearing hijab. Her family doesn't support her and many of her classmates ridicule her. While the book tried to explain her family's opposition to Nisrin's hijab-wearing and her desire to connect to Islam, I found it to be very confusing and difficult to follow. The book attempted to explain Bangladeshi history, but it just didn't work for me. I'm still pretty new to graphic novels so I shared with my 12 and 13-year-old children who love the genre but they "didn't get it" either. The concept was great, but the execution needs a little more work for clarity.
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Graphic Novel
I received an electronic ARC from ABRAMS Kids through NetGalley.
Readers see Nisrin struggle to figure out who she is in connection to her faith. She and her best friend are attacked due to the way they looked early in the book. Nisrin's Bangladeshi attire triggered a hate crime by some stranger on the street. Both girls ended up with physical as well as emotional damage. The remainder of the story looks at how Nisrin copes with what happened and her family's reaction to this. They are immigrants from Bangladesh and escaped during the genocide that took place in the 1970's so face their own memories of that time. Readers see Nisrin work to decide about wearing the hijab as she begins high school. She discovers hate and distrust come in all sorts of ways from teachers and classmates. It's heartbreaking to realize how many young women face this as they figure out who they are. Huq captures the pain and the blossoming joy as she finds friends and owns her choices.
A terrific Own Voice novel that pulls readers in. The informative text included at the end offers further insight into Bangladeshi history.
The artwork is stunning and creates the entire world for readers to step into.

Trigger: Violence against women and minorities.
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This was such a beautifully illustrated book and such a testament to the Nisrin's tenacity. The story is one that isn't shared nearly enough. It depicts the journey of overcoming trauma, depression and change. It also depicts the importance of asserting yourself, your beliefs & wants for yourself. I loved this graphic novel and just wish I could've seen everything clearly in the E-ARC but otherwise, I thought it was wonderful!
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This extraordinary coming-of-age tale about a teenage girl learning to overcome the trauma in her life along with the intergenerational trauma that her family carries is an emotional and heartfelt journey that I felt so honored to be able to read. The main character of this book is Nisrin, a 13-year-old Bangladeshi-American girl living in Milwaukie, Oregon in the year 2002. Eighth grade is wrapping up and she’s all set to end her day on a major high after giving a well-received presentation for World Culture Day at school about Bangladesh while wearing a traditional cultural dress. Yet walking home, she unfortunately finds herself the victim of a hate crime when a man violently attacks her for wearing a headscarf.

As a lover of graphic novels, I can still say that it is not often that I open one up that centers on a darker-skinned Bangladeshi–American girl in the early 2000s. In actuality, I can’t point out too many comics and graphic novels for children that center on young protagonists experiencing the world as a Brown-skinned person in America post-September 11, 2001. Nor can I list children’s media that details the struggles and triumphs of wearers of not just ornas but hijabs as well. Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin’s Hijab is a layered story of Nisrin going from being a victim of a hate crime to not just recovering in a world that she finds to be harsh, but stumbling to recover, heal, and find her voice and agency.
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Piece by Piece is the story of Nisrin, a young girl who is the victim of a hate crime when she tries out wearing a hijab for a cultural presentation on the country of her heritage, Bangladesh. In the aftermath, Nisrin decides to wear the head scarf daily despite backlash from her family and peers.

In the aftermath of the hate crime in which Nisrin is targeted, she is diagnosed with PTSD. Piece by Piece did a good job of showing what PTSD can be like, though I did find the beginning of this graphic novel hard to follow. But when Nisrin speaks with her cousin who wears a hijab, she decides to reclaim it and do the same. She receives some backlash and school and from her family, since her grandfather does not practice Islam and has some issues with the religion. She soon finds out that this has to do with the history of Bangladesh and his experiences. Nisrin makes a new friend at school, but also struggles to reconnect with the friend who was with her when the hate crime took place.

While Piece by Piece wasn't perfect for me, it was a powerful read. I loved Nisrin's strength and her decision to wear a hijab even though no one else in her family did. As for the art, I had an unfinished ARC of this graphic novel, but I could already tell it was absolutely lovely. This was a 4 star read for me. I think it leans more young adult than middle grade due to the violent nature of the hate crime and some sexism and mention of the war in Bangladesh, including mention of r*pe.

*will be on my blog in 2022
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A moving story about a young Bangladeshi-American girl who becomes the victim of a hate crime when she is violently attacked for wearing a headscarf. As she recovers from the attack, Nisrin starts reflecting on her family's cultural ties and why they've never worn the traditional hijab. She makes a decision to wear the hijab and delve deeper into her religion. While Nisrin learns from her fears and struggles, she is inspired to learn more about her family and background. 
A little confusing at times with the shifting timeline, I think this graphic novel will be beautiful in color.
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I found the ecopy of this book impossible to read.
Maybe the publisher could have sent it in a larger font?
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The story of within this graphic novel is intriguing. Issues of adolescent angst, fitting in at a new school, self-doubt, wanting family acceptance, harassment, bullying, and xenophobia are some of the themes within this book. This book would be a great addition to a classroom read about the way in which people are treated. However, trying to truly evaluate a graphic novel in a digital format is difficult as colored illustrations are essential to a complete review. I'll be looking for this book in full-color when published.
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With graphic novel ARCs, it’s hard to pinpoint what issues will be fixed with the final version - BW vs color, text boxes, etc. I’ll try my best to review in good faith of the finished product,

Nisrin’s story is important and compelling. I liked that we see her journey with the hijab, first as a cultural  heritage “costume,” then trying to be hijabi but frustrated that her family never taught her the expectations such as wearing long sleeves and pants, then finding support and committing to attending mosque and learning Islam.

It’s hard to fully cover multiple plot threads in the graphic novel format. The time-lapse from the attack to the hospital to therapy to school starting again felt rushed.  I wish there was more time to explore her Black friend’s trauma from the hate crime; the teacher’s casual racism; her family’s relationship with Islam. Sometimes the transitions between these beats were confusing, and I’m not sure how much of that will be resolved with a polished publication.

Finally, it made me smile to see the details that grounded this story firmly in 2002: the flip phones and phone charms, the mix cds, the flare jeans…very cute, though I think this story could easily have been set in modern day.
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Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin’s Hijab is about a Bangladeshi-American girl named Nisrin in the early 2000s after the events of 9/11. For a school project one day, Nisrin was wearing an orna (Bangladeshi headscarf). While walking home with a friend, a man screamed obscenities at them and ripped off Nisrin’s headscarf.  The graphic novel then focuses on her PTSD, demonstrating its manifestation with trippy graphics and unorganized pieces of time. Throughout the book, Huq shows how Nisrin deals with PTSD and how it affects the people around her. She is able to resurface from her shell while being empowered by wearing a hijab to her school.  There she faces even more discrimination, but she stands tall, proud, and strong. 

	The story surprised me.  I must not have read the description well enough because I wasn’t aware of its focus on PTSD. The art style is unfamiliar to me, but not unpleasant. The digital copy I read was unfortunately of poor quality, with the words being difficult to read at times.  I did enjoy that some of the wording was written in Bangla (the language of Bangladesh). This graphic novel does a wonderful job of opening up discussion about PTSD, religion, racism, prejudice, and family. I highly recommend reading it.
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I think this book would be wonderful in classrooms and could help give kids an understanding of another culture. It is great that there are more books that many kids will be able to relate to. I think it would be beneficial to have conversations with.
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This graphic novel goes over the intricacies of a young girl, Nisrin, deciding to wear a hijab. I liked how this focused on the internal politics of Nisrin's family in addition to the prejudice she faces from people at school and in the world at large. It provided a nuanced look at an issue that is frequently presented as black and white.
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Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest opinion.

Beautiful!
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What makes this book different from all others? And why should anyone care? 
I am not sure what to say about this book. it not an inspirational book for sure. I didn't get moved by it.

I felt like the story was done in a rush, Country history, religion and friendship. if the author kept with the MC and best friend incident, then we might see some story. 

Also the illustration seems confusing the emotion shows seems scary to me maybe that what the artist is going for and also maybe the NetGalley copy I received was not good and it was black in white print and also even the text box was so hard to read.
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Piece by Piece is well crafted, visually and verbally. A book that must be celebrated, shared, savored, and taught, and so important to read.
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With the caveat that the digital version I downloaded was not of very good quality, I felt that this story was unevenly paced and I personally didn't like the art very much (though the final full color version may be better). I will still probably suggest that my library buy it because it tackles several issues that I haven't seen done much for this age group, but I was underwhelmed.
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This story of Nisrin is a great introduction to understanding a culture and another person's experience that you may not be aware of. This is great for those in middle school to get a deeper read in a story format, and I would recommend. Thanks to the author for writing the story and helping us learn more.
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At 224 pages, this graphic novel tells an important OWN voice story in beautiful and powerful illustrations, but despite reading it multiple times, I ultimately found the pacing a bit off, the narrative and plot holes quite large, and the conclusion too forced.  It claims to be for middle grades which would explain the happy ending, but the assault, trauma, mental health, Bengali history, language, and protagonists age (13) I think make it more suited for upper middle school.  I read a digital ARC in predominately black and white images, so I'm hopeful that part of the problem is on me, and that I simply missed or misunderstood parts that seemed to jump around and assume, or that because it was an uncorrected proof, some revision is still to come.

SYNOPSIS:

Nisrin is 13 and lives in Oregon with her mother, and maternal grandparents.  Her mom travels a lot and she seems to spend most of her time with her loving Nani, grandmother.  The story opens with Nisrin in 8th grade giving a presentation about her Bangladeshi heritage to her school.  On the way home with a friend, Firuzeh, she is still wearing the cultural clothing and they are playing around with the scarf, when they are violently attacked and the scarf is ripped off of Nisrin's head.  Her hair is pulled out in the process and the two girls are taken to the hospital and when released maintain professional counseling to process and deal with the assault.  Nisrin fears leaving her house and is increasingly isolated within her home.  

Over the summer we see her and her Nani go over to some cousin's house where Nasrin is gawked at with her short hair and everyone is unsure how to act around her.  She joins some cousins playing video games where she asks about a cousin in hijab who says that it is essentially her choice between her and Allah (swt), that it isn't any one else's business.  A younger cousin tells that she plans to start hijab soon and is surprised to learn that Nisrin's mom is not Muslim. 

As summer comes to an end, Nisrin will be starting high school and exits her room the night before wearing a hijab, or in Bengali, an orna.  Her family freaks out, her Nana, maternal grandfather, is furious claiming that she should have been raised better, and Nisrin is scooted off to her room by her Nani, so that her mom and grandfather can argue.

On the first day of school, Nisrin tries to talk to Firuzeh, but once again things are awkward between the two girls.  A teacher refuses to try and say Nisrin's name and becomes angry and aggressive, and at PE she is called a slut and asked if she will be beat for showing her legs.  Nisrin goes home to research Islam and hijab, but everything is so angry and opinion based that she is more confused than when she started.

The next day she meets a nice girl, Veronica, and the two work on an assignment in class and then have lunch together.  Veronica suggests that Nisrin learns about Islam like she would a school assignment and go research it at the library.  Later at home, Nisrin starts to understand what her grandparents and mother saw and endured in the war of 1971 when Bangladesh became independent from Pakistan.  Her mom and Nana argue over what was seen and Nisrin starts to find her voice in her family.  

Nani takes Nisrin shopping for long sleeved clothes and scarves, things are worked out with Firuzeh and Nisrin's family accepts that Nisrin is not asking permission to wear her scarf, but is hoping they will accept it.  

WHY I LIKE IT:

The book is such a flip on the over-used-stereotype that Muslim girls are forced to wear hijab, in truth many are encouraged not to.  At one point Nisrin says, "If I can't be safe...then can't I at least be proud."  She was attacked for just playing with a scarf and putting it on her head, so she reasons, that there is not safety from racism and hate, she might as well be proud of who she is.  I also love the strength in the idea that she doesn't need anyone's permission, it is her faith, her head, her choice.  

There is a lot of good in the book, but I struggled understanding quite a bit of it.  It mentions that she was at Texas and she loved it, but there was bullying? No idea what it was in reference to or what purpose it served.  At the beginning the two girls seem like they have been friends for a while, but yet Nisrin warns Firuzeh that her Nani will force her to eat.  Nisrin seems to really love her sleep overs, and I don't know if it is just to show at the end the healing by coming full circle, but it seems a bit juvenile to be that excited about to me.

The family dynamic and history, left me very confused.  Nisrin doesn't know her cousin wears hijab, and is confused that her aunt doesn't.  Nor do her cousins know that Nisrin's mom isn't Muslim?  These cousins call Nisrin's Nani, Dadi, and since there is no father in the picture it is obvious to even none desi folk that these cousins are related through the mom's family and the cousins father, so why when Nisrin decides to wear hijab is the maternal side so upset? Why does Nasrin's mom ask if her cousins have put her up to it? Ok if the mom isn't religious, but does she actively practice another faith? Why in one of the portraits on the wall does the woman seem to have a bindhi? The Bangladesh independence admittedly is something I should know more about, but I don't, and this book, didn't really fill me in.  How is the grandfather both siding? He doesn't like invader nationalism, but I still don't completely understand why he left, and what that solved.

The pacing and tone at times are off too me too.   I didn't feel the strain on Nisrin and Firuzeh's relationship, the text suggests that they are and were best friends, but when Veronica asks if Nisrin's stress is in part to the cute girl she was staring down, I was curious too if there was more to their relationship.  A lot seems to happen between the attack and Nisrin starting to wear hijab and I wish we were allowed inside Nisrin's head to know how she feels about her mom, her nana, starting high school, her attack, her desire to wear hijab, it seems a bit rushed.  Which is odd since, the story spends a few pages detailing when Nisrin feels like everyone hates her after Nani picks her up on the first day of school and Nani points out that not everyone hates her, the squirrels don't, and the dogs don't, etc..  It seems really childish for the incredible ordeal she has been through.

I like the informative section at the end about Bangledesh. I wish the book would have shared some of what Nisrin learned about Islam in her own research, she goes to the mosque, but doesn't detail if she plans to pray regularly, fast, etc..

FLAGS:
Language, violence, war imagery, rape mentioned, assault.

TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:

I don't know that this would work for a middle school book club at an Islamic School, graphic novels are often to quick of reads, but I have a few friends from Bangladesh and I really want them, and their daughters, to read it and clue me in to what I am missing, their view of independence and their impression of the book.
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Piece by Piece:  The Story of Nisrin's Hijab tells the story of Nisrin.  She is attacked at school for wearing a hijab.  This started her journey to learn more about her culture and family.  I enjoyed that the author included the history of Bangladesh.  I think that helped Nisrin (and the reader) learn more about her parents and what is important to her.  This is an emotional tale and will lead to important conversations with readers.  While the arc I had was in black and white, I will like seeing the full color version when it is released.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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