December 21, 2010

Ten things I hate about me

I went on a rampage on ebay and bought a load of books that I've had my eye on for awhile now, the first one I finished was this book by Randa Abdel-Fattah and heres what I thought:

I started this book the day I received it in the post, it was shiny and pink and oh something I wouldnt usually read, but for islamic fiction I was willing to give it a shot. Ive read a few islamic fictions in the past, namely the triology by umm Zakiyyah, which I thoroughly enjoyed so I was hoping for something equally as entertaining. Alas, I was to be disappointed :(

I read the intro with an open mind and clear heart
"The novel is the story of Jamie Towfeek, a teenager living in Sydney's western suburbs.
Jamie wants to be the real thing. From the roots of her dyed blonde hair...
There are a lot of things Jamie hates about her life: her dark hair, her dad's Stone Age Charter of Curfew Rights, her real name - Jamilah Towfeek.
For the past three years, Jamie has hidden her Lebanese/Muslim background from everyone at school. It's only with her email friend John that she can really be herself. But now life is getting more complicated. The most popular boy in school is interested in her, but there's no way he would be if he knew the truth. Then there's Timothy the school loner, who for some reason Jamie just can't stop thinking about. As for John, he seems to have a pretty big secret of his own.
To top it all off, Jamie's school formal is coming up. And her band at her Muslim school is performing at the formal. The only way she'll be allowed to attend is by revealing her true identity. But who is she ... Jamie or Jamilah?"

First thing... there just had to be a boy involved :( of course he was a John or a Timothy, he couldnt have been an Abdel (there is one in the book) or an Esa.. but I tried to push that to the back of my mind.. there always needs to be a love interest I suppose and to think that young muslimahs are totally outside the bounds of being attracted to the opposite sex is slightly naive. Maybe the guys convert, maybe they just show her who she really is, maybe they are using her to get their homework done.. theres many reasons they could be involved.

So I went on my way merrily reading the pages, wandering through the life of Jamie/Jamilah and that of her family and peers. I liked how the writer took away the aspect of having to have a mother around to make sure the children did right, although it was later realised that they all werent doing well since that person was taken out of the equation. Of course a replacement had to be written in towards the end of the storyline.
I enjoyed the sense of family within the book, the real life news problems that were incorporated into the book. There were many relatable scenes from all the different characters, from broken homes, racism and peer pressure to deaths, political passion and overprotective parents

Not to give the game away but my disappointment was, however, sealed with a stolen kiss between the main character and 'the love interest' at the school dance after performing with her madrassa band. After this scene there was a point made to tell the interest that the main character couldnt possibly start a relationship after gaining the trust of her father and the confidence to be herself. Not the fact that it was against her religion or anything like that, which I felt should have been made a point of if young girls are going to be reading this book. I would hate to think a young girl who has the trust of her father and self confidence who has little knowledge of her own religion for whatever reason and thinks it would be ok. Allahu Alim

I know that many many people will love this novel, but this is just my opinion and I hope you enjoy reading


Anonymous said...

Yea i think i agree with your disappointment (altho i haven't read the book) but these Islamic fiction books are doing the rounds and yes there HAS to be a boy involved! Like the world would think us less "normal" if there wasn't a love interest involved. There was Does my head look big in this and Love in a headscarf. Altho the first one did at least involve some sort of religious implication when the young Muslimah turned down the relationship with her Christian love interest. But still, these books seem very pretentious screaming "I wanna be accepted in the Western Society!" even if it means to (slightly) compromise your Muslimness.

colourful_years said...

Salaam sister,
I read this book a few years ago, I must admit I was disappointed too-partly due to the same reasons you mentioned but also because I felt it was a bit of a brainless read, just a typical teen fiction to be honest! :) One thing I would say though is that I wouldn't classify it as 'Islamic Fiction' as such, it's more just a teen fiction that happens to be about a muslim girl. There are many like it-take Brick Lane by Monica Ali for example, that's about a muslim Bangladeshi family but it certainly isn't classified under Islamic Fiction. However I agree that the books by Umm Zakiyah certainly are, they're written with the purpose of educating and informing readers about Islam (well the first one anyway, I haven't read the others)!
Anyway thanks for sharing your thoughts on the book! I hope the others don't dissapoint as much :)

Carimah said...

I read the other one 'Does my head look big in this'. I was so disappointed! I don't mind a bad story - but I didn't want to keep it in the house, couldn't donate it as I didn't want non-Muslims to read it either ! I lent it out and hope it disappears !