Review: Drawing Deena by Hena Khan

Drawing Deena by Hena Khan

Drawing Deena
Hena Khan
Salaam Reads
Published February 6, 2024

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Drawing Deena

From the award-winning author of AMINA’S VOICE and AMINA’S SONG comes a tenderhearted middle grade novel about a young Pakistani American artist determined to manage her anxiety and forge her own creative path.

Deena’s never given a name to the familiar knot in her stomach that appears when her parents argue about money, when it’s time to go to school, or when she struggles to find the right words. She manages to make it through each day with the help of her friends and the art she loves to make.

While her parents’ money troubles cause more and more stress, Deena wonders if she can use her artistic talents to ease their burden. She creates a logo and social media account to promote her mom’s home-based business selling clothes from Pakistan to the local community. With her cousin and friends modeling the outfits and lending their social media know-how, business picks up.

But the success and attention make Deena’s cousin and best friend, Parisa, start to act funny. Suddenly Deena’s latest creative outlet becomes another thing that makes her feel nauseated and unsure of herself. After Deena reaches a breaking point, both she and her mother learn the importance of asking for help and that, with the right support, Deena can create something truly beautiful.

Drawing Deena on Goodreads

My Review

One of the things I remember most from AMINA’S VOICE and AMINA’S SONG is the way that the author creates these rich family connections and still keeps the story centered on its kid characters. Deena has complex relationships with both her parents, where sometimes she feels like they don’t see or hear her, yet it’s clear they love her, and she loves them, and they have a good relationship in other ways.

In this book, Deena explores both her artistic style and talent, learning about other artists, especially Vincent Van Gogh, whose work she feels a connection with. She also wrestles with feelings of anxiety that build to a panic attack. Like lots of people, she can’t tell at first what’s happening to her body. She only knows she feels nauseated and tense. At first, she doesn’t even connect those feelings to any particular fears or worries.

I liked the way that process played out and the way people in Deena’s life responded to her once they understood what was going on. That part felt really realistic, and I couldn’t help celebrating with Deena as she finds her voice and speaks up for what she needs.

I also really enjoyed the descriptions of artwork in the story. It made me want to visit a museum– and especially to look up the names of the artists mentioned in the book.

Fans of Hena Khan’s earlier books will love this one, and readers who enjoy books about artists will also find lots to love here.

Drawing Deena on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Deena and her family are Pakistani American. Deena has anxiety.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content
References to prayer and Muslim celebrations.

Violent Content
Descriptions of a panic attack.

Drug Content

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions my own.

Marvelous Middle-Grade Mondays with Greg Pattridge at Always in the Middle

Marvelous Middle-Grade Mondays

I’m sharing this post as a part of a weekly round-up of middle-grade posts called Marvelous Middle-Grade Mondays. Check out other blogs posting about middle-grade books today on Marvelous Middle-Grade Mondays at Always in the Middle with Greg Pattridge.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

10 Responses to Review: Drawing Deena by Hena Khan

  1. Valinora Troy says:

    This sounds a good story, I love the arty aspects and a lot of kids will relate to anxiety issues too (hopefully it will help them)

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s previous books and this one sounds like another winner. I’ve added it to my future read list. Thanks for your insights.

  3. This sounds like it covers some pretty important issues for kids. Thanks for telling me about it. I’ll look for it.

  4. Brenda says:

    I hosted a giveaway for this not too long ago but haven’t had the chance to read it yet. I does look really good, and I love the representation of the Pakistani American family. Happy MMGM and have a lovely week.

  5. I’ve seen this book as an anticipated February release on other blogs and have been curious about it. I haven’t read any books about Pakistani-American families. This sounds like one I’d like. Thanks for sharing it this week.

    • Kasey says:

      Makes sense to me that you’re seeing it on anticipated-release blogs. I have loved the other books I’ve read by this author, too. She’s amazing. Thanks, Natalie! I hope you have a great week. 🙂

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