Monday, September 1, 2008
DOES MY HEAD LOOK BIG IN THIS? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Amal is Australian-Palestinian-Muslim. She was born in Australia, and it's all she knows. She went to a Catholic grade school and is now in eleventh grade in an Australian preparatory school with plans to attend college. She is surrounded by a mix of cultures and variety so she normally blends in with the crowd. However, things are about to change.
Religion is taken seriously in Amal's household. They observe Muslim traditions as they live their busy lives. Despite being raised by strict and concerned parents, Amal counts herself lucky that they believe in education and the freedom to follow her future dreams, unlike her friend Leila's mother who believes she must be married off to an acceptable man as quickly as possible. Even though religion plays an important role in Amal's life, it still comes as a complete surprise to her parents and friends when she declares that she wants to become what she calls a "full-timer." She has decided to wear the hijab, the head scarf worn by Muslim women.
Knowing she will likely risk ridicule and hear comments like "terrorist" and "towel-head", Amal is determined to adopt this visible sign of her faith. Her parents are surprised but supportive and attempt to prepare her for the worst. Her mother shops with her for attractive fabrics and gives her instruction in the proper wearing style. Her father insists that she meet with the principal of her school to seek approval for this controversy decision before she attempts to wear the hijab. But Amal doesn't want to wait; she wants wear the hijab on her first day back from school holiday. She believes she must jump right in and not give herself any reason to compromise her decision.
DOES MY HEAD LOOK BIG IN THIS? highlights not only Amal's life-changing decision to be different and wear an outspoken statement of her faith, but it also focuses on her friends who experience struggles of their own at school and at home. There is something for everyone in this book. Readers can relate to many of the pains of being a modern teenager. Even though the action is set in Australia, readers from cultures all over the world will relate to Amal and her friends as they live through typical teen experiences.