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Children's Fiction Humorous Stories

The Secret Diary of Mona Hasan

by (author) Salma Hussain

Initial publish date
May 2023
Humorous Stories, Emigration & Immigration, Diversity & Multicultural
Recommended Age
10 to 14
Recommended Grade
5 to 9
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2022
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2023
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Mona learns to find her voice over the course of a year that sees her immigrating from Dubai to Canada in this novel for fans of Front Desk by Kelly Yang. Now in paperback!

Mona Hasan is a young Muslim girl growing up in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, when the first Gulf War breaks out in 1991. The war isn't what she expects — "We didn’t even get any days off school! Just my luck" — especially when the ground offensive is over so quickly and her family peels the masking tape off their windows. Her parents, however, fear there is no peace in the region, and it sparks a major change in their lives.

Over the course of one year, Mona falls in love, speaks up to protect her younger sister, loses her best friend to the new girl at school, has summer adventures with her cousins in Pakistan, immigrates to Canada, and pursues her ambition to be a feminist and a poet.

About the author

Contributor Notes

SALMA HUSSAIN grew up in the U.A.E., and immigrated to Canada when she was thirteen years old. She has a B.A. (Hon.) in English Literature, with a concentration in creative writing from the University of Calgary, a law degree from the University of Calgary, and a Master's in Law from McGill University. Her short stories and poems have been published in filling Station, West Coast Line, Other Voices, and in the anthology Homebound: Muslim Women Poetry Collection (Outburst Press). She is a graduate of the Humber Summer Writing Workshop and won the International Festival of Authors' Litjam short story competition (2018). She was also a mentee in the Diaspora Dialogues long-form mentorship program last year. She lives with her family in Toronto.

Editorial Reviews

A Quill & Quire 2022 Book of the Year
One of CCBC's Best Books for Kids & Teens (Fall 2022)

"An ambitious novel that is both heartfelt and tongue-in-cheek." Kirkus Reviews

"Mona’s voice is good-humored, and her diary entries—comprising lists, poems, and letters from supporting characters—amalgamate into a wise and introspective debut." Publishers Weekly

"Upper elementary and middle grade readers will identify with this spunky, thoughtful, 12-year-old heroine . . . the short vignettes of this book are perfect for reluctant readers and may spark conversations about war, Operation Desert Storm, immigration, international affairs, the Muslim religion, and school equality for girls." —School Library Journal

"Mona is a well-developed, believable protagonist. . . . An important story, delivered with a light touch." CM: Canadian Review of Materials