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

doesmyhead.jpgAmal has typical teenage worries–a crush on a boy, coping with a bitchy popular girl, missing friends from an old school–and one very big not so typical worry–contemplating wearing the hijab (head scarf, long sleeves, long pants/skirt). Amal is a Palestinian-Australian Muslim. She grew up in Australia, but her parents moved there from Palestine. Her mother wears hijab, but up until now Amal has only worn it to mosque or for holidays. Amal believes she wants to wear it full time and thinks she is ready, but is intensely worried about the reactions she’ll get from friends at school and from the public in general.

It seems like this issue should only take up a couple of chapters of a 300something page book, but in fact it really is the whole premise of the story. And yet, it doesn’t drag or become dull. There are some incidental storylines to keep things going: Amal befriends her nasty old neighbor, one of Amal’s close friends tries to deal with her family’s incredibly traditional treatment of her (they are trying to marry her off, she’s not allowed out in public), and another of her friends has a crush as well on a boy.

I found Amal’s religious devotion believable and also interesting. The information about being a modern Muslim girl was presented very naturally in the book–as was the idea that it is not the same for every Muslim. Cultural factors play a huge part in attitude and interpretation of teachings (see: Amal’s friend being married off.)

I did think Amal was very naive to believe that the boy she had a crush on didn’t actually want to date her. Their relationship progressed from flirting to deeper friendship and was clearly on track for boyfriend/girlfriend. It’s not until he goes to kiss her for the first time that she tells him, hey wait I can’t actually date anyone or kiss anyone until I’m married. Not surprisingly, he is shocked and wonders whats been going on this whole time.

A quick read for teen girls.

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3 thoughts on “Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah

  1. I have just finshed this book after reading it non stop since yesterday afternoon.

    I found this book to be very entertaining whilst involving serious issues that are still current in today’s society such as racism and ignorance.

    Being a young british muslim, all I could think about while reading this book is how much is related to myself. Problems that Amal came against are problems that I come against day to day.

    It was nice to know that there is a book out there that tells me that I am not alone. After finshing this it has made me even more aware of my faith and why it is I wear a headscarf in the first place.

    Very enjoyable read (: .

  2. Zahra, I love how this book resonated with you! I was just checking and the author has a new book coming out in January.
    Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Thanks to reading your blog I am reading “Life as we knew it” While I am enjoying it so much I don’t want it to end I cannot put it down. I love this kind of book. They are so hard to find in adult books. I wonder why YA books are where you find these kinds of stories.

    Even more delicious! I have the sequel! Well I must stop and get back to reading.

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