Disappointing: Does My Head look Big In This by Randa Abdel-Fatah

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When sixteen-year-old Amal decides to wear the hijab full-time, her entire world changes, all because of a piece of cloth…

Sixteen-year-old Amal makes the decision to start wearing the hijab full- time and everyone has a reaction. Her parents, her teachers, her friends, people on the street. But she stands by her decision to embrace her faith and all that it is, even if it does make her a little different from everyone else.

Can she handle the taunts of “towel head,” the prejudice of her classmates, and still attract the cutest boy in school? Brilliantly funny and poignant, Randa Abdel-Fattah’s debut novel will strike a chord in all teenage readers, no matter what their beliefs.

Source: GoodReads

Because of the current wave of Islamaphobia in the US, I’ve been trying to find a list of books that feature Muslim protagonist to recommend as a way to counter the hate.  I believe that reading opens doors of understanding and learning and is a gateway to empathy.  Also, for someone who is experiencing oppression it is a good coping mechanism knowing that somewhere out there, there is someone that identifies with you..

This book features a teen who decides where a hijab for the first time a couple of years post 911 (I think the US publication date was 2005, but I’m guessing it came out in Oz a couple of years earlier).  Honestly, the time period did have some similarities to what we’re seeing now-except W was way more tolerant than Trump is and never tried to ban an entire religion .  Still, there were lots of asses in the world during this period of time and I thought if the book was good it might be a good one to recommend.

It’s not.

I had previous read one of the author’s other books (Ten Things I Hate About Meand I’m sad to say that this book is just as problematic as that one.

On the plus side though, the main character wasn’t self loathing.  That’s something.  She did embrace who she was-though honestly, I didn’t really see her connection to wearing the hijab to a Friends episode.  That was sort of grating and really sort of insulting (note, I am not Muslim, but I know if someone compared my religion to a TV show I’d be kind of annoyed).  And honestly, even though she was thinking of wearing the hijab everywhere, the fact that she was more concerned about her popularity level had me shaking my head.

The main character had me shaking my head because she acted more like twelve than sixteen and her voice was so grating I decided to quit by page 30.

Which makes me sad.

ojupnrblmnf3gBecause man did I want to like this book.  I was rooting for you book, you didn’t have to do much.  Just have an identifiable protagonist that a teen could read about-say, that’s like me-and find a way to identify with and/or emphasize with the protagonist.  That’s not that hard to do.

Le sigh.

So, despite a compelling and interesting premises I can’t recommend this book.  When researching her catalogue prior to writing this review I did notice that Fatah-Abdel had another book that featuring a compelling issue immigration that’s already out in Australia and will be out in the US this spring.  I’ll be blunt, I am planning on reading it because the issue is really relevant and I’m hoping that maybe her voice has matured since the writing of this book. God knows, we need a book with that premises especially right now.  However, as for this book…shakes head.

No.

Overall Rating: DNF

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