Book review: Does my head look big in this?

Does my head look big in this?
Randa Abdel-Fattah
Scholastic, 2006Cover of does this make myhead look big?

I was looking forward to reading this book, based on the fact it was encouraging cross-cultural tolerance and my fourteen-year-old daughter loved it.

Abdel-Fattah introduces us to the world of teenage muslims girls in modern Australia through the eyes of 16-year-old Amal. Amal believes in Islam and lives a comfortable life with her intelligent and accepting parents.

The story revolves around Amal choosing to wear the hijab as a sign of her faith and the usual teenage issues of boys, clothes, parents and make-up.

It is clearly written for a teenage audience and has less appeal to those beyond school politics and blushes over first crushes. However, with the cultural undertone of a Muslim girl, the story has an innocence and freshness that is nice to read.

Showing understanding of Muslims and other religions, this book has the potential to help foster better relations throughout the community. It is a positive and broad view of Islam, and teenagers, without any overt religious message. Most of the key characters are understanding of all religions and cultures met in the story.

While clearly an Australian book (set in Melbourne), Abdel-Fattah has used many American references and terms which is disappointing – especially in a story about the meeting of cultures.

In summary, a positive story that teen girls are likely to enjoy while possibly broadening their views of Islam.

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