Friday, January 29, 2010

Does My Head Look Big in This? (Book Review)

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.

Putting on the hijab isn't the end of the journey.  It's just the beginning of it.  p.333
This was a great exploration of one girl choosing to show her beliefs to the world and the consequences that come with those big decisions.  Amal is cool and cocky and definitely 16.  She has a typical relationship with her parents and has some great friendships at school.  She attends a prep school in Australia so when she first decides to wear the hijab she doesn't know how it will go over there.  But she works through that obstacle and a few others.

The novel is in first person and that sometimes threw the tone off for me.  Some books I don't notice it, but I was always aware of it for this book.  It made some of the conversations stilted for me.  But it was nice to be in Amal's head and see how she viewed others.  Sometimes she was paranoid that strangers were judging her and sometimes she was right and sometimes not.  There were many interesting parallels drawn to her situation and that of her overweight friend and to the Greek next door neighbor and to her Japanese friend and to some of her extended family who pretend not to be Muslim.  There was a great message of tolerance and remaining true to your beliefs and yourself.  And I learned a little about Islam and a lot about what the hijab means.

cross posted with The Little Bookworm 

ETA: corrected 


  1. Interesting that Amal would take such a leap even when her family does not practice. I am curious to if this was based on a true inner faith or more about doing something a bit different than her family.
    I am thinking it was a faith choice because otherwise the feeling of paranoia could stop you from continuing on with a choice.
    I enjoyed reading your review.

  2. Her parents practice. I meant her aunt and uncle and cousins.

  3. This sounds terrific -- I love the title, too. :-) I am adding this to my TBR list.

  4. Sounds like kind of a fun read... I can see a sixteen year old "trying out" their faith just to see the reactions. Is this a true story?

  5. Shelia - She isn't "trying out" her faith. She makes a big decision and sticks with it. But it is a hard one and she is afraid of reactions. And, no, it isn't a true story.

  6. While not exactly a true story, I'm sure the book rings true for many American Muslim girls who choose to wear the hijab. I had a friend in high school a couple years older than me that had some of the same experiences.