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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

When sixteen-year-old Amal decides to wear the hijab full-time, her entire world changes, all because of a piece of cloth... 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. Can she handle the taunts of "towel head," the prejudice of her classmates, and still attract the cutest boy in school? Brilliantly funny and poignant, Randa Abdel-Fattah's debut novel will strike a chord in all teenage readers, no matter what their beliefs.…

Does My Head Look Big In This?

by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Overall Book Review:

For readers who know little about Muslim traditions and beliefs, Does My Head Look Big in This? could be a great introduction. Young women in particular will relate to Amal and her decision to display her faith in an obvious way while attempting to remain socially “normal.” 

The author tells a captivating story, but her use of teen dialogue seems forced and awkward at times. I found her attempts to sound “cool” a little annoying. The language is quite dated, so youth of today might not even get many of her allusions. However, she definitely captures the struggles of privileged youth.

Those who are already familiar with Islamic practices and know someone who wears the hijab may find this story a little over-the-top. Amal faces pretty intense persecution for her beliefs and practices, and one has to wonder whether or not this kind of thing really happens. Girls I know who wear the hijab don’t seem to experience this kind of all-out abuse at the hands of their peers.

But the point of the book is well taken–we all feel like we stick out like a sore thumb when we’re different–especially as teenagers. It can be extremely challenging to stand by our beliefs in situations like this. Amal is an example of integrity for any youth–of any background. Her faith and personal strength had me thinking deeply about my own convictions and how I publicly share them. That indicates a measure of success any author would be proud to achieve. 

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  22 religious exclamations; 6 mild obscenities; 11 derogatory names; 5 scatological words; 5 anatomical terms.

Violence/Gore:  A character talks about her miscarriage; reports of a terrorist attack.

Sex/Nudity:  Boys are overheard talking about pornography with no details; a female character thinks about cuddling with a boy; two characters are caught looking at soft porn; a character discusses her choice to remain celibate (3 times); suggestive graffiti is read; a character refers to a publicized rape case; female circumcision is referred to; a character is known to have had sex; a character claims that someone is trying to get a person to have sex with him; a character removes clothing in front of others; two characters flirt repeatedly; a character thinks about kissing; a character dresses immodestly; a character crosses her legs, revealing her underwear; reference is made to a character’s multiple partners; rape and abuse victims are referred to.

Mature Subject Matter:

Teen runaway, religious persecution, terrorism.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Marijuana use; minors drink socially; an adult character smokes.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. My mother would often find me curled up in a corner, avoiding chores with a book–or two. When I was growing up, there wasn’t a large selection of YA books. I had children’s books and adult literature to choose from. I’ve come to love YA fiction as an adult and read almost nothing else when I read for pleasure–any genre will do.