So when you’re a non-pork eating, Eid-celebrating Mossie (as in taunting nickname for Muslim, not mosquito) with an unpronounceable last name and a mother who picks you up from school wearing a hijab and Gucci shades, and drives a car with an “Islam means peace” bumper sticker, a quiet existence is impossible.”
16-year-old Amal is Australian-Muslim-Palestinian: “That means I was born an Aussie and whacked with some seriously confusing identity hyphens.”
She decides to wear the hijab full-time. It’s her decision, not something her parents or relatives or friends made her do. She’s ready but she’s nervous because she’s recently started at McCleans, a prep school where she’s pretty much the only Muslim student. She wants to prove to herself that she’s strong enough to wear a badge of faith and she believes it will make her feel close to God.
The hijab was part of her school uniform when she had attended Hidaya Islamic College although Amal would take it off as soon as she left school because “man oh man do you need guts to get on public transportation with it on”.
Even her parents are worried and wonder if this is the right move at first. Her friends are supportive but it takes her classmates a few days before they confront her. Of course her mortal enemy Tia continues to insinuate things about her. And then there’s Adam, fun, funny and kinda cute. What does he think about her hijab?
Amal’s got some great friends. Some of them are her McCleans classmates and there’s also Leila and Yasmeen from her old school.
Abdel-Fattah cleverly introduces us to a diverse group of Muslim families. Leila’s conservative mum wants to find her a good husband, although she’s just a teenager, and doesn’t allow her to go out even if it’s with girlfriends. Amal’s family, while religious, are more open-minded. Amal’s uncle takes a very different track in being Australian. He’s “Uncle Joe”, not Ismail, wants his children to “live as Aussies”, disdains fasting and halal food and even prayer time.
I love how Randa Abdel-Fattah took what is a tough topic and made it a fun yet insightful read. I tend not to read YA but I’m so thoroughly thrilled with this book. It was so real and down to earth, and filled with such fantastic characters. I look forward to reading more of her books!
I read this for #AsianLitBingo – Asian Muslim MC