'Once Upon an Eid' Is A Joyful Collection Of Short Stories By And About Muslims

Abrams Books

There's a new collection of young adult fiction on its way to a bookstore near you, and you're going to want to keep an eye on this one. Coming next spring from Amulet Books, Once Upon an Eid is an #ownvoices collection of Muslim stories, and you can read an excerpt right now! Edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed, Once Upon an Eid is out on May 5, 2020, but you can start reading it today, exclusively on Bustle.

A major holiday in Islam, Eid al-Adha is "The Festival of Sacrifice." The name comes from the holiday's association with the story of Ibrahim, who was willing to make a sacrifice to obey God's command. Eid al-Adha is not to be confused with Eid al-Fitr — the feast that marks the end of Ramadan. Traditionally, the Hajj — an annual pilgrimage to Mecca, which observant and able Muslims are required to make once in their lifetimes — reaches its height during Eid al-Adha. The most recent Eid began on Saturday night.

Once Upon an Eid contains contributions from 13 Muslim authors. They are:

  • Randa Abdel-Fattah
  • Huda Al-Marashi
  • Sara Alfageeh
  • Hanna Alkaf
  • Ashley Franklin
  • Asmaa Hussein
  • Hena Khan
  • Rukhsana Khan
  • Ayesha Mattu
  • Candice Montgomery
  • N. H. Senzai
  • Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
  • G. Willow Wilson

Check out a short preview of Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow's short story, "Perfect," below, and pre-order your copy of Once Upon an Eid today.

"Perfect" by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

Mom, Dad, and I got off the bus somewhere in New York City, and it looked like all the people in Philadelphia, times ten, had been dumped on each block. They must have all been running late, because everyone was speed-walking.

I wasn’t in any hurry. We were spending Eid here — in a strange city — with new family who didn’t act much like family.

Mom tripped after long-legged Dad, a former New Yorker, who strode through the crowds, wheeling a large suitcase. Wearing my lime green sneakers and a matching hijab that whipped the spring breeze behind me, I followed with a supermodel strut. I imagined that the people rushing past me stopped and cheered for me, Hawa, the twelve-year-old Black American hijabi-nista on the runway!

“Hurry up, Hawa!” Mom yelled. “Stop tryna be cute!”

I ignored her, adding a sashay to my step.

We followed Dad down the steps to a grimy, dark underground station and sprinted toward the roar of an arriving train.

“Train to the Bronx,” Dad explained as we hopped inside the doors.

We sat with me between Dad and Mom, who pulled out her phone and opened up her language app for the tenth time this trip. I couldn’t stop myself from rolling my eyes.

“Say it with me: tuh-NAHN-tay, tuh-NAHN-tay!” Mom was almost shouting, like Señora Moreno in sixth-grade Spanish.

I repeated her quietly. Maybe I could disappear into my jeans if I stared at them long enough.

“You not even trying, Hawa!”

I looked pleadingly at Dad.

“She’s doing okay. Don’t worry, Amina,” my father said to her, his African accent thick. He patted my braided head and smiled. “This is my true Mandinka girl.”

I didn’t feel like a true Mandinka anything, but I smiled back. My father’s wide, childlike grin makes me smile even when I don’t feel like it.

“Amadou, how she gon’ talk to anyone?” Mom asked, her North Philly accent thick too. “Your aunt don’t speak a word of English.”

Why couldn’t Mom stop worrying about Dad’s family? Last year, when we first met Dad’s side of the family, they weren’t worried about her. Mom was gripping her phone a bit too tightly. I rubbed the back of her dark headscarf the way she sometimes does to mine. Her grip stayed tight.

"I can talk for us,” Dad said. “And Cousin Mariama speaks some English. Hawa can talk to Fanta. Fanta speaks perfect — like an American.”

I held back a groan.

"I just want Hawa to be proud of all the parts of who she is.” Mom looked hard at me. “You are Black American and Mandinka. Both are strong cultures. Love all of you, Hawa."

Once Upon An Eid is out on May 5, 2020 and available for pre-order now.