Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Does My Head Look Big in This? ****

Abdel-Fattah, Randa. Does My Head Look Big in This? 2005.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel about a Muslim girl living in Australia. Amal's family lives near Melbourne. While they are somewhat strict and religious, Amal has never worn the hijab, nor has she even been encouraged to do so. Suddenly, she decides to start wearing it full-time, not just to religious services. This is a big decisions in a post 9/11 world, in which Muslims from all over the world were looked at with suspicion. The hijab would bring attention to her and make her appear different, which is the last thing any teenager needs. Amal has a crush on Adam, who is white and Christian. He doesn't seem to get why she wants to wear the hijab, but does try to understand. Because her culture doesn't really allow for dating, particularly outside their religion, their relationship really can't go anywhere, but she likes him anyway.

There are other side stories going on with Amal's friends, which brings more depth to the novel. Simone is a little overweight and spends her life obsessing over her weight. The most interesting character is Leila who is also Muslim, but her family is ultra-conservative. Her mother doesn't even want her to continue her schooling and continues to try to marry her off to every available guy she comes across. They don't like Leila going out and particularly at night, thinking it makes her look like a bad girl. All Leila wants to do is graduate HS and go on the become a lawyer. This conflict adds to the story and shows the differences that exist even within Islam itself.

I recommend this novel for anyone interested in learning a little bit about Islam. And, certainl Muslim teens will love being able to find someone like themselves in a book for once!

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