This much-needed picture book about navigating the difficult experience of pregnancy loss meets young readers at their level to offer a tender look at grieving someone who never entered the world.
Raya can’t wait for her baby sister to arrive. She’s already got a name—Nura—and Raya is certain they’ll be best friends. She’s got all kinds of plans for things they’ll do together like run through the sprinklers, play dress-up, and give piggyback rides.
But one day, Mama returns from the doctor with tears in her eyes. Nura won’t be coming home after all. Raya feels confused and sad, like all the love she has for Nura is trapped inside her. With the help of family, friends, and her school counselor, though, Raya finds a way to grieve this loss and to share the love she’ll always feel for her sister.
About the Author
Saira Mir is a physician and author of the award-winning picture book Muslim Girls Rise, which she wrote for her daughter and other children to have Muslim feminist role models. As an OB-GYN, she has cared for many families through pregnancy loss, but could not find the book she needed to help support her daughter through grief over her own family’s loss, which inspired her to write Always Sisters. She lives in the DC area with her kids and is always on the hunt for the next best playground and bubble tea.
Shahrzad Maydani is an illustrator and storyteller based in Maui, Hawaii, where she lives with her family. She was raised in Africa by an Iranian mother and an English father, and she spent her childhood collecting and telling stories. Shahrzad is the illustrator of the picture books Poetree by Shauna LaVoy Reynolds, Always Sisters by Saira Mir, and Sourgrass by Hope Lim.
Mir respects and understands her audience, and it shows in the simple but honest text. Maydani’s chalk pastel and watercolor illustrations are affecting. The blurred and soft images (with lots of pinks, oranges, and greens) give the girl’s narration an ephemeral quality. When she is immersed in her grief, Raya’s figure becomes a dark silhouette. The text and images work together seamlessly, and the pages are designed thoughtfully, with strategic white space and evenly paced and powerful page turns. VERDICT A There aren’t many offerings on this topic, and none as effective or beautiful. An excellent choice for all SEL collections. — School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
given the relative lack of stories about miscarriage that center characters of color, this is a needed and important title.A sensitively told story of a child grappling with her family’s pregnancy loss. — Kirkus