Thursday, October 27, 2011

Out of the Woods

Title: Does My Head Look Big in This?
Category: Realistic, Multicultural
Grades: 8-12
Author: Randa Abdel-Fattah
Publisher: Orchard Books
Date: 2005
Pages: 360

As Amal begins her junior year at an exclusive private prep school, she makes the decision to wear her hijab, the headscarf worn by Muslim women, full-time.  Amal must cope with all the trials of adolescence, including friends with parent problems, weird family members, and her growing friendship with the cutest boy she knows, as well as discovering with who she is as a young Muslim woman and overcoming the difficulties anyone who is “different” surely must face.

A debut for Abdel-Fattah, and overall, an interesting and enjoyable read.  Amal is hilariously sassy, with great comebacks for many of her persecutors, and under her headscarf, a spunky and genuine “girl next door.”  She and her closest friends struggle not only with questions and discoveries about their religious identities but also their racial and cultural identities, making this an intriguing look into several cultures not commonly seen in young adult writing.  The books only minor flaw is a tendency toward preachiness in places, and slightly repetitive defense of Islam, not surprising perhaps in the current global climate, but redundant after a time.  A great read for Muslim girls who may be exploring their own identities, but also for other teens who will appreciate the insight into a culture not their own, but be fully able to relate to Amal’s very typical teen struggles.


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