Children’s Novel About Muslim-Jewish Friendship Offers Roadmap for Interfaith Allyship

March 18, 2021

The children’s book A Place at the Table tells the story of an interfaith friendship between two US middle school girls.

The novel — co-authored by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan — is described as a “timely, accessible, and beautifully written story exploring themes of food, friendship, family and what it means to belong, featuring sixth graders Sara, a Pakistani American, and Elizabeth, a white, Jewish girl taking a South Asian cooking class taught by Sara’s mom.”

“Writing stories about first-generation kids and the citizenship experience was important to me, especially since it’s my own story,” Faruqi, a Muslim immigrant from Pakistan and mother of two, said in a recent Kveller interview about the book, which was published last year.

Shovan — the Jewish daughter of a British immigrant and also a mother of two – recalled, “I had a loose idea for a middle-grade novel called Citizen Mom, about a girl who wanted to help her mother through the citizenship process. But I realized that my view of being first-generation American didn’t include the experience of someone not born in the U.S. Saadia was my first choice of authors to partner with on this story. Not only is she raising first-generation American kids, I admire her writing and activism.”

Faruqi noted that one of the book’s purposes was to “offer a roadmap to readers about allyship.”

“It’s really important in this day and age to not stand by quietly when something terrible is being said, because it escalates the situation and makes the bullying worse,” she stated. “My advice to kids is to talk about these issues with each other, have a plan about what you’re going to say, and tell adults when bullying is happening.”

Read the full Kveller interview with Faruqi and Shovan here.