Wednesday, May 28, 2008

[Book Review] DOES MY HEAD LOOK BIG IN THIS? by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Fiction/Young Adult

Andrea Bledsoe reviews DOES MY HEAD LOOK BIG IN THIS? by Randa Abdel-Fattah (Orchard Books, 2007)

I will not be the first (and definitely not the last) to admit that surviving high school is tough. Teenagers can be a near-deadly combination of cruel and insecure all at once. It’s rough and it’s difficult to overcome, but somehow most of us survive our teenage careers. Saying all that will help you realize I haven’t forgotten what it's like to be a teenager. Reading young adult (or YA) fiction is another way I try to stay in touch with the teenagers I work with at the branch. Often, they will recommend a good YA book to me, and sometimes I get to return the favor.

Does My Head Look Big in This? is Randa Abdel-Fattah’s debut novel about 15-year-old Amal Mohamed Nasrullah Abdel-Hakim. Amal and her parents are Palestinian-Australians living in a suburb of Melbourne. During her Christmas vacation, Amal decides that she wants to wear her hijab (the Muslim head scarf) full-time. Reaching this conclusion will be the biggest decision with the most consequences she will ever make. Being a student at a predominantly Anglo-Saxon Protestant, elite prep school, Amal knows she will be taunted by the other kids. She does not ignore her parents’ loving concerns and warnings and cannot ignore and the loud jeers of the other students.

But taking this tremendous leap of faith is causing conflict within Amal’s heart. Does she ignore the prejudice and stereotyping she gets while wearing her hijab or take it off and try to blend in with the other teenagers? I’m not telling, so readers will have to find out on their own.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book because, being Muslim herself, Abdel-Fattah was able to explain different terms and customs within the culture. I also enjoyed reading about Amal and her friends as they were sassy and awkward all at once, but in general, very likable characters.

This is an entertaining and informative book for teenagers and adults alike. Enjoy!

Andrea Bledsoe, Poplar-White Station Branch Library

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Oh yeah, high school was definitely a challenge, I'm glad it's already over for me!

Anyway, I also enjoyed reading this book about Amal wearing the hijab. It's one of the few books about female Muslim protagonists who are independent and such. Definitely a highly recommendable book.

Here's my review of it though! Cheers!
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