Drawing Deena

Cover of Drawing Deena
Drawing Deena by Hena Khan

By Hena Khan
Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster, 2024
232 pages

Ages 8-12

An emotionally resonant novel explores anxiety, social media, and finding one’s voice as a young artist. As much as Pakistani American Deena enjoys her seventh grade art class, she’s eager to improve her creative skills with additional training. Classes are expensive, though, and Deena has overheard her parents arguing about finances. Her mom designs and sells desi clothing out of their home; to help grow her customer base, Deena designs a logo and starts a website for Z’s Threads, complete with photos of her cousin, Parisa, modeling the clothing. Parisa, who is more interested in makeup, fashion, and social media than Deena is, has been urging Deena to put more thought into her appearance and persuades Deena to start a social media account to showcase her artwork before Deena feels ready. This pressure, along with worries about her parents’ relationship, contributes to Deena’s anxiety; she has persistent nausea and a cracked tooth due to clenching. She reaches a breaking point when she has a panic attack at school. Initially resistant to therapy, her parents come around when Deena advocates for her own treatment. Aware now of their daughter’s struggles, Deena’s loving parents become more mindful of recognizing her hard work and dedication to art as well. When Deena and her mom visit a local Pakistani American artist’s exhibit, Deena finds inspiration and a welcome chance to share an interest with her mom, who is an artist in her own right. ©2024 Cooperative Children’s Book Center