Thursday, January 10, 2008

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

I recommend this book for: grade 7 and up

Amal is an Australian Muslim who goes to a snobby prep school. She misses her old school, where everyone was of her faith, but she has made new friends and has a reasonably easy time of it - until she decides that she's ready to wear the hijab full time. Suddenly she's an outcast at school, with even her crush acting strangely. The school administration heartily disapproves, and Amal is whispered about and openly confronted when terrorists make an attack on Australian tourists.

But deciding to cover her hair is overall a positive experience for Amal. Her declaration of faith is a strength to her - not that she's a weak character at all. She's constantly making wisecracks and standing up for herself, even though she is sometimes unsure or making a stand before she fully understands what's going on. There are a lot of funny moments in this book, even though it deals with some serious issues - how far to go in following your faith, religious intolerance, teen runaways, and even a touch on eating disorders. It was also interesting to get the Australian perspective - I know that as an American I hadn't really thought about immigrants in other countries, but Amal is surrounded by Australians who originated in other nations, and their stories are varied and fascinating. The facets of Islam that might be unfamiliar are clearly explained without taking away from the story. I definitely recommend this book for anyone looking for insight into the life of a Muslim teen or anyone who likes stories about girls standing up for themselves and winning.


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