by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
Amal, an Australian-Pakistani eleventh-grader, decides mid-year to start wearing the hijab full-time. Her decision brings the predictable awkwardness and difficulty from those who assume her parents force her to wear it, but Amal prevails. The kids and principal at her new school (her old Muslim school only went up to tenth grade) take a while to warm up to her, and her crush, Adam, definitely shows he doesn’t understand her religion. Meanwhile, her friend Simone gets a boyfriend, but doesn’t leave behind the baggage that her mother has instilled in her the idea that she’s overweight and must always be on a diet. And things in her friend Leila’s very traditional, strict home come to a head and Leila runs away.
[Major spoilers!] I found myself waiting for Amal to abandon her faith and kiss Adam, but she never does and then I chastised myself for expecting that. It’s a story that doesn’t get told enough and is equally interesting as if she had. All ends well for everyone, even Leila. Overall, I loved Amal and this peek into her head can show people who’ve never met a Muslim that they think about the same things that non-Muslims do, even obsessing over how they look (whether their hijab is perfect as opposed to their hair being perfect).