If you’ve read this blog for almost any time you know one of my favorite authors is Hena Khan. So when I heard she was doing another middle-grade book I was excited. More to the Story is billed as a retelling of Little Women.
While I haven’t read Little Women I know the basic plot outline. Don’t look at me like that it’s on my 2020 list! While I can definitely see elements in the story, the four sisters, the general story, Khan makes the story her own.
More to the Story
Set in a Pakistani American family, this retelling of Little Women keeps the charm of the original story. While also giving new life to the story. The book is told from the perspective of Jameela Mirza. The Jo equivalent to the original. Like Jo from the original, she is also a writer. She writes for her family and is a journalist for her school paper. When the story starts she has just found out she is going to be the features editor for her school newspaper, an important job for a seventh-grader.
But the lead editor is someone who has shot down her ideas in the past, so she knows she has to find a star story if she wants to be an award-winning journalist like a late family member.
But becoming features editor isn’t the recent change in Jameela’s life. Two big things have also happened, a British boy named Ali who is the nephew of a family friend has just moved to the states and the sisters befriend him.
But it turns out they will need Ali’s friendship as much as he needs theirs when their father has to accept an overseas job that lasts for six months.
Jameela doesn’t know what her family will do without him, but she promises herself she’ll write the best article she can to make her father proud. She finds herself writing about Ali. But how will she make this story engaging enough to win a national media contest? Things get complicated when Jameela makes the article something Ali didn’t agree to and the article gets sent out by accident. Jameela ignites the questions she wants and makes a thought-provoking article but will it be at the cost of Ali’s friendship?
But when her younger sister Bisma gets seriously ill, Jameela has to decide what is really important. Trying to process her sister’s illness Jameela learns of a way her writing can help her sister and as her community comes together to help Bisma, Jameela learns she might not have completely ruined things with Ali.
But with everything so up in the air will Jameela finally be able to make her own story come together?
Written by Pakistani-American writer Hena Khan.
I loved the book it was just the right length and Jameela was a relatable narrator. Khan notes at the end of the book how big of a fan she was of Little Women growing up, and you can feel her love for the story shining through on the pages. She also weaves in her culture beautifully as she does with all her stories. My favorite things were:
- The sisters’ interaction: even though some of the sisters got more page time than others you could really sense their distinct personalities. And those personalities were the most fun when they were together.
- The way Ali interacts with the sisters especially Jameela.
- The feeling of community throughout the story.
- Bisma, the Beth equivalent is literally so sweet she just deserves a mention.
- The conclusion of the story and how Khan changed it to fit a middle-grade book yet still made it feel right for the story.
Definitely a 4.5-star book. I only wish it was a little longer but I know since it’s a middle-grade book that the length was probably due to the target age range.