The Unlovable Alina Butt

Orca. May 2023. 208p. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781459834910.
Gr 4-6–Alina Butt finds her last name embarrassing. It makes her the target of bullying by classmates. On top of that, she’s just started at her fourth new school in three years after moving from Pakistan to Great Britain. While her family seems to have settled in just fine, Alina struggles to find friends. She enjoys her kindergarten-age brother but envies her sister Nadia’s ease with people; at least until she discovers that Nadia has troubles of her own, including a boy who keeps harassing her. Eventually, Alina makes friends using her trademark humor and kindness. After trying out for the school play, Alina finds herself playing a mouse in a fractured fairy-tale version of Cinderella, with her good friend Emma playing the lead. To her dismay, the boy who has been bullying her, Adam, plays Prince Charming. Jealousy leads Alina to make some unkind choices before she finds her voice standing up for her little brother. She learns there’s more to Adam than she thought, and she’s braver than she believed. This charming, eye-opening book highlights not only the struggles of an immigrant girl, but the power that comes from seeing things through someone else’s eyes.
VERDICT A general purchase where coming-of-age stories that work well for striving readers are needed.

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