Sunday, August 12, 2007

Multi-Cultural Rebellion

Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah

There comes a point where you need to make a stand, to do something different and break out from the mold. Some teens dye their hair blue (me) or pierce their lips (my sister). Amal Mohamed Nasrullah Abdel-Hakim, an Australian-Palestinian teen, decides to wear the hajib full time.

I believe it will make me feel so close to God. Because it's pretty hard to walk around with people staring at your "towel-head" and not feel kind of pleased with yourself--if you manage to get through the stares and comments with your head held high...I guess when I'm not wearing the hajib I feel like I'm missing out.

And there are a lot of heart-warming moments as Amal finds she's underestimated most of the people around her and their acceptance of her decision.

But really, this book is funny and light and fun. Amal's decision is sparked by that Friends episode where Rachel, instead of running away from her ex-fiance Barry's wedding, instead gets up and sings "Copacabana". Plus, the reaction of her Muslim friends is great.

Leila already is a "full-timer"

"I'm bored... There's nothing on TV. Either I'm stuck watching Oprah give away vacations and cry about her book club or I've got to watch Dr. Phil tell me why carrots provide self esteem."
"Guess what?"
"I'm thinking of going full-time."
"You got a job?"

Yasmeen is a part-timer, like Amal used to be.

"This means we have to go shopping soon and get you a whole new wardrobe. Mix-and-match spree."

The book is fun. There's the usual trouble with boys (made more difficult by the fact Amal doesn't date) and popular girls (made more difficult by racism) and cranky neighbors who just need a friend to listen.

Abdel-Fattah has written a lovely book about the normal ups-and-downs of any teenage girl, with Australian-Palestinian hajib twist thrown in. In light of that, I'm wondering about the inclusion of the subplot involving Leila, who is forced to do all the cooking and cleaning while her mother tries to constantly marry her off. It seems to negate the point Abdel-Fattah is trying to make, unless she's using it as a foil.

Overall though, I greatly enjoyed.


Anonymous said...

I just checked out this book from our library (the perks of working there... you get first dibs on brand new ones)...and I'm looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the great review!

Jennie said...

I love the first dibs! Of course, with people being able to put holds on from their home computer as soon as the book is ordered... it evens things out a bit (which is probably a good thing)

Let me know what you think!

Lotus Reads said...

Another great find Jennie, this is definitely going on my wishlist. My daughter's new school has a number of hijab-wearing students and she has often mentioned them so I know she is curious about the hijab and why the girls wear it and so on. This book might be a nice one for her. Thank you so much!

Jennie said...


This was a great book. It was a little message-y, but mostly it was teenage girl fun. Let me know if she likes it!