book review: Does my head look big in this?

Posted on 4 August 2010 Wednesday


book review: Does my head look big in this?
author: Randa Abdel-Fattah
publisher: Scholastic, 2008
Main character: Amal Mohamed Nasrullah Abdel-Hakim

Amal is a high school student in Australia. Things are going fairly well for her as she is doing good in school, has close friends, has a crush on a boy who is friendly towards her and her parents are no worse than anyone else’s. Over a particular break, Amal is deciding to begin to wear a hijab. This physical statement of her faith is not one she can take easily, not in post 9/11 Australia. She can already hear the taunts from her classmates, and she’s ready for those. I think it’s the unknown people and situations that concern her the most: applying for college or for jobs, riding the bus or shopping at the mall. Once Amal makes this decision, she wants to stick with it.

Abdel-Fattah takes us into Amal’s world, a so typically teen world that is filled with Arabic expressions, middle eastern foods and Islamic practices. The practices are simply a part of Amal’s life, they are not presented in a way that attempts to indoctrinate readers but the author does have a gift for explaining things like basic vocabulary words with the story losing its cadence. There are times, however when deeper explanations do result in the author’s voice being apparent in the story.
The attractive cover will easily pull teen readers into the story and give them a generally light read. This book is a good way to introduce teen girls to another culture. I think they’ll finish it realizing we’re all the same, but different.
Randa Abdel-Fattah is a practicing attorney in Sidney,Australia. In addition to Does my head look big in this?, she’s also written Ten things I hate about me and the forthcoming When the streets had names which is already winning major awards.
The copy I reviewed is from my school media center.
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Posted in: Book Reviews