FIERCELY FICTIONAL celebrates fierce, inspiring fictional girls we know you’ll love. To us, “fierce” isn’t just about slaying dragons or solving mysteries. It’s about breaking free from your comfort zone, discovering your confidence, fighting for what you believe in, & discovering your emotional strength. Any girl can shine bright & be fierce, & in this series, we’ll connect you with a new fiercely fictional character every month!

FIERCELY FICTIONAL is back, and we’re spotlighting the endlessly creative (and braver than she realizes) Deena Rahman in Drawing Deena, a heartfelt new read by Hena Khan, author of Amina’s Voice and Amina’s Song.

Deena Rahman, a seventh-grade Pakistani American girl with an endlessly creative spirit, never feels more like herself than when she’s drawing in her sketchbook – the one place she feels free to express her thoughts and feelings exactly as she feels them. Her friends don’t really get it, but when her jaw is clenched and her stomach is in knots over arguing parents and other stressful things happening in her world, art is how she copes. She pours all her bottled-up, scattered emotions onto the page, which is why she dreams of taking art classes outside of school.

But art classes are expensive, and things aren’t exactly financially secure for her family, something she’s learned from her parent’s increased arguing. Deena’s mom runs a clothing business out of their home, selling garments from Pakistan to their local community. It’s a great idea, but Deena sees the way her mom runs things isn’t exactly working. She rarely promotes the shop or her products and always caves when family members haggle for discounts. The financial stress of the wavering business causes Deena’s parents to argue even more often, leading to even more twisting, bad feelings in her stomach, and even a panic attack.

Drawing Deena:

Book cover for Drawing Deena by Hena Khan

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
AUTHOR: Hena Khan
PUBLISHER: Salaam Reads
DATE: February 6, 2024

Deena thinks she can use her artistic abilities and her cousin’s social media know-how to help out, and it’s a huge success! The business is getting more attention and sales than ever, and Deena’s mom begins to respect her artistic abilities even more, which only helps Deena’s confidence blossom. But the newfound notoriety is taking a toll on Deena’s friendships, particularly with her cousin-slash-bestie, Parisa, who starts acting differently and even ends up outing Deena’s anonymous art account, which causes a rift between them. She doesn’t like to shy away from the tough stuff, but that doesn’t mean everything is easy for her. When her anxiety becomes too much for her to handle on her own, she asks her parents for help, and her mom even learns a thing or two about asking for support when you need it.

Drawing Deena is a sincere, authentic story with so much undeniable heart. We’re all about her independent spirit, her determination and creativity, and the way she feels most comfortable doing her own thing. Deena knows exactly who she is and who she wants to be, even if the road to getting there is a little rocky. That’s about as fierce as you can be! And on top of it all, she recognizes when she needs help managing her ever-growing anxiety and not only speaks up but advocates for herself when her parents need a little push in the right direction.

We’re excited to share that Drawing Deena author Hena Khan is here sharing a peek between the pages of this new read and all the reasons Deena Rahman is totally fierce!

Five Reasons Deena Rahman is Totally Fierce:

Graphic that reads "Independent Thinker"

She’s an independent thinker:

It isn’t easy to go against the flow, especially when you’re in middle school. But Deena isn’t a follower. She’s got her own ideas about things, including how much effort she needs to put into her appearance. Her cousin Parisa keeps telling Deena how pretty she would look, if only she’d put some anti-frizz in her hair, if only she painted her nails, and if only she’d wear makeup.

Deena isn’t overly interested in doing all that stuff, and she thinks Parisa might be bit too obsessed with it. Instead, Deena does what she feels comfortable with and isn’t afraid to have her own ideas, even if they’re different from the kids around her. Like when Deena goes to a big art show, she has a very different reaction than everyone else!

Graphic that reads "Helps Her Family"

She works to help out her family:

Deena knows money is a big source of stress for her parents. She hears them arguing at night when they think she’s asleep and it makes her stomach hurt. Deena’s mom has a home business selling Pakistani clothes, but she isn’t great about advertising her products, or the best at dealing with the aunties who haggle for discounts.

Deena comes up with a plan for how to make the business run more like an actual store, and have it be a bigger success. And then she puts her creative energies to work, so she can make a positive difference for her family (and hopefully get to take the expensive art classes she’s been eyeing!).

Graphic that reads "Asks for Help"

She stands up for her mental health:

When Deena realizes she needs more help to manage her anxiety, her parents aren’t sure at first that it’s necessary. Like many families, they want to keep Deena’s personal challenges private and think they can handle them on their own.

Deena, on the other hand, is tired of the churning in her stomach, hyperventilating, or feeling nauseated. So, she does the brave thing and stands up for herself, and she manages to convince her parents to let her try to get some outside support. Go Deena!

Graphic that reads "Admits When She's Wrong"

She’s able to admit when she’s wrong:

Deena is furious at her cousin Parisa when she tells the whole world about Deena’s secret social media account—one she created to anonymously share her art. But later, she discovers that her cousin wasn’t sharing her news to brag or get attention like she assumed. Instead, Parisa only revealed Deena’s identity while she was defending her from nasty people online.

When Deena realizes this, she apologizes to her cousin and takes responsibility for her actions. Apart from being the right thing to do, having an honest conversation leads to a better understanding between them, and more closeness, which is what Deena always wanted.

Graphic that reads "Eager to Grow"

She’s open to advice to grow her talent:

Deena wants her art to reflect who she is, and for it to be more than just imitating the greats she admires, like Van Gogh. Part of Deena’s journey as an artist is finding a mentor, an artist that she admires. It can be intimidating and humbling to be around people we view as experts, or who are more experienced and know more than we do. But Deena is eager to learn from her cool new mentor, to discover more artists and fresh techniques.

She learns to think about and strives to answer the questions that are burning inside her through her art. And it’s exciting and freeing for her to grow in that way. 

📚Need another fierce read to add to your shelf after Drawing Deena? Catch up on our FIERCELY FICTIONAL series!

Previous Post Next Post