Zara’s Rules For Living Your Best Life by Hena Khan

with the most charming of illustrations, as with the other books in the series, by Wastana Haikal.

Salam Ramadan, readers! Do I have the perfectly timely OwnVoices read for you, the third and latest in one of my favorite middle grade series.

As Zara’s Rules For Living Your Best Life opens, Spring Break is springing! Zara and her neighborhood friends, but especially her best friend Naomi, have any number of plans for how they want to spend this precious week off from school. But Naomi’s mom throws a wrench into the works when she tells them that she’s signed Naomi and her brother up for day camp. Unwilling to be parted from her best friend, Zara asks her mom whether she can go to camp, too. Alas for our young heroine, Mom has already made other arrangements. Zara and her younger brother Zayd are going to spend their days at their grandparents’ house while Mom and Dad are at work that week.

At first, Zara is actually pretty psyched about this. Nana Abu has recently retired, so should be ready to spend all day having fun with them, even as their Naano fusses and tries to get them to do chores instead. Zara is shocked to discover that all Nana Abu wants to do, however, is watch TV and nap, a far cry both from his past active self and from her idea of what a properly retired person should do with their suddenly abundant free time. Worst of all, spending her days at her grandparents is threatening to be boring, a far cry from all the grand plans she’d been making for spending the week with her friends. What will Zara do to save Spring Break, and possibly her Nana Abu, from settling far too firmly into a less than optimal rut?

This was another charming installment of the Zara’s Rules series, where our determined young heroine continues to learn important life lessons about being a leader and a community organizer both. I love that she isn’t (very) bossy, but clearly knows what she wants and is ready to make good things happen both for herself and for the people in her life. I also loved the glimpses into the wider community, both at Zara’s mosque and the county’s facilities. The author is from Montgomery County, where I live, and it just felt like a delightful celebration of our civic pride.

I’ll be handing this over to my 12 year-old to read next, as he’s enjoyed the other books in the series so far (tho his favorite character is Zayd, whom I, as an eldest child, find deeply irritating in the way that only younger brothers can be.) This is a delightful series for the whole family, with excellent Pakistani American representation. Recommended.

Zara’s Rules For Living Your Best Life by Hena Khan was published March 21 2023 by Salaam Reads and is available from all good booksellers, including

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