Does My Head Look Big in This?
By Randa Abdel-Fattah
Genres: Coming of Age, Romance, Friendship, Religion, Realistic fiction
Rating: 4/5 stars
Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah caught my eye for two reasons. The first reason was that it was the only teen book I hadn’t read in my library branch. The second reason? I was kind of going through the same thing as the main protagonist, Amal.
And this book kind of helped (but not in the way that you would think). Amal, made the decision to start wearing the hijab right before the start of grade 11, inspired by a TV show.
While Amal does say that it would take courage, she never really explains why she needs to wear one, other than the fact that her religion required it.
She ends up dealing with the reactions of her parents, classmates and teachers. Some of it was unbelievable (like the whole class shunning her? The day I wore mine, everyone crowded around to ask questions). But then again, this novel is set in 2002 (aka after 9/11). The author uses Amal to emphasize that it is a choice, and attempts to clear up some misconceptions,
but sometimes comes off as overbearing. Of course, Amal occasionally does get treated badly, and sometimes ridiculously so. Like the bus driver who obviously doesn’t like her hijab and conveniently turns up the anti-muslim show on the radio. Or the Hungry Jack’s that won’t hire her because of their ‘image’.
This book deals with stereotypes and in stereotypes ~ it has it’s share of one dimensional characters and jokes, all meant to spread a positive message. It also deals with Islam, but don’t classify it as one that explains Islam and hijabs. Think of it as Amal thinks of it herself: one hyphenated Australian-Muslim-Palestinian’s journey to find her identity and sense of community, rather than an in depth guide to why we Muslims do what they do. In that sense, the book succeeded. Amal felt like a normal girl, Muslim or otherwise. As said in the book,
Too many people look at it as though it (the hijab) has bizarre powers sewn into its microfibers. Powers that transform Muslim girls into UCOs (Unidentified Covered Objects), which turn Muslim girls from an ‘us’ to a ‘them.’”
~ Amal, pg 38
This book helped me in the sense that if I really believed in what I was gonna do, then I should go for it and do it. Besides, wasn’t one of the reasons Canada attracted settlers the right to practice religions publicly, without persecution? All in all, I thought Amal was a funny, sassy and relatable narrator. This book might not leave readers completely satisfied, but I think it is a good look into the lives of teen Muslims ~ as well as a good laugh.
❤ ❤ Sarah ❤ ❤