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Does My Head Look Big In This?

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When sixteen-year-old Amal decides to wear the hijab full-time, her entire world changes, all because of a piece of cloth...

Sixteen-year-old Amal makes the decision to start wearing the hijab full-time and everyone has a reaction. Her parents, her teachers, her friends, people on the street. But she stands by her decision to embrace her faith and all that it is, even if it does make her a little different from everyone else.

Can she handle the taunts of "towel head," the prejudice of her classmates, and still attract the cutest boy in school? Brilliantly funny and poignant, Randa Abdel-Fattah's debut novel will strike a chord in all teenage readers, no matter what their beliefs.

360 pages, Hardcover

First published May 1, 2007

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About the author

Randa Abdel-Fattah

27 books856 followers
Randa Abdel-Fattah was born in Sydney in 1979. She is a Muslim of Palestinian and Egyptian heritage. She grew up in Melbourne and attended a Catholic primary school and Islamic secondary college where she obtained an International Baccaularetate. She studied Arts/Law at Melbourne University during which time she was the Media Liaison Officer at the Islamic council of Victoria, a role which afforded her the opportunity to write for newspapers and engage with media institutions about their representation of Muslims and Islam.

During university and her role at the ICV, Randa was a passionate human rights advocate and stood in the 1996 federal election as a member of the Unity Party-Say No To Hanson. Randa has also been deeply interested in inter-faith dialogue and has been a member of various inter-faith networks. She also volunteered with different human rights and migrant resource organisations including the Australian Arabic council, the Victorian migrant resource centre, Islamic women’s welfare council, Palestine human rights campaign, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, to name a few.

Randa has used her writing as a medium for expressing her views about the occupation of Palestine. Her articles about Palestine, Australian Muslims and the misunderstood status of women in Islam have been published in the Australian, the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Canberra Times, New Matilda, Le Monde (France).

Randa is frequently sought for comment by the media on issues pertaining to Palestine, Islam or Australian Muslims. She has appeared on SBS’s Insight, ABC’s First Tuesday Book Club, ABC’s Q & A, Channel 7’s Sunrise and Channel 10’s 9am.

Randa is also a regular guest at schools around Australia addressing students about her books and the social justice issues they raise. Randa has also been a guest at Sweden’s Gothenburg and Litterlund book festivals (2007 and 2008) and Kuala Lumpur’s Book festival (2008). She has also toured in Brunei and the UK.

Randa lives in Sydney with her husband and their two children. She works as a litigation lawyer.

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Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
317 reviews116k followers
May 6, 2017
I have some mixed feelings on certain aspects of this book, but overall, I enjoyed my time reading it!

I was really anticipating reading Does My Head Look Big In This? after being recommended to me as a great book with a Muslim protagonist. I have to say, hearing about Amal's faith was by far my favorite part of the novel! I get so happy watching others speak about things they are passionate about, and Amal's dedication to her religion was absolutely wonderful to read about! It's very rare we find YA protagonists that are open about practicing their faith so this book was unbelievably refreshing. Amal's response to prejudice and discrimination while never backing down from her beliefs was honestly inspiring and I feel so many teens would be impacted by her story! I think my favorite quote of the novel was near the end where Amal says, "Putting on the hijab isn’t the end of the journey. It’s just the beginning of it." (I literally got chills) Amal was the first Muslim protagonist I've read about and I was not disappointed. I would read so many more books about her if it meant experiencing her story!

Another great aspect of this book is that within Amal's group of close family friends who happen to also either be Muslim and/or Arab, there were so many different experiences to read about! Amal has Muslim friends that choose to wear the hijab full time, and others that don't. There are people who are deeply involved with their faith and others who reject their culture in favor of conforming to Australian norms. I thought the expression of different Muslim experiences was really well rounded and it made for a satisfying reading experience. I think I took away so much more because we had so many different individuals to learn about!

I also really loved how supportive virtually all the people in Amal's life are of her decision to wear the hijab! Are there bullies who are definitely Islamophobic? Yes (so be cautious of expressions of prejudice if you're interested in reading this novel) but there are SO MANY positive reactions to Amal's faith! Her principal is accepting, her friends and classmates are excited to learn about her religion and the practices of her faith. For the most part, they don't judge her like she is fearing but show true interest in brocading their horizons. Despite the fact that Amal does encounter some discrimination throughout the course of the story, I was so happy to see so much positivity for the majority of the novel.

Another minor piece of the story I enjoyed was learning about Amal's neighbor who is an elderly Greek woman. I really loved seeing their relationship grow, it was something special and unique. What I loved most though, was hearing her story of immigrating to Australia. It was very powerful and something I found to be very valuable! (TW for miscarriages in this particular scene) but overall, it was a surprise to enjoy a minor character so much. Definitely a fabulous character addition!

That being said, there were a few things I was not a huge fan of. Primarily, the writing was not the best. It's not "bad" per say, but I definitely found myself picking at the parts that irked me more than I l like to while reading. I also felt the dialogue made the characters seem younger (13-14ish) compared to their actual ages (17). I want to be clear in saying I have considered the fact that "maturity" is a western concept and how I feel a 17 year old acts like may very well be different from what a 17 year old who has grown up in a Palestinian household is ACTUALLY like. I've definitely kept that in mind, but it was consistent with all the characters in the book, regardless of their background. They use phrases and react in ways I find more often in middle grade books (and in my personal experience in the junior high years) which made it hard to not be a little exasperated at times. (Another factor could also be that the author is Palestinian/Egyptian herself which may account for differences as well!!) Then again, this also was not a book written for me, it was written for teens so take this critique as lightly as you'd like; I'm just stating my personal reading experience. The perceived immaturity & underdeveloped writing were two aspects of the book I really didn't enjoy, but it didn't impact my enjoyment that harshly.

The final thing I disliked about DMHLBIT is the portrayal of body image. One of Amal's best friends is extremely unhappy with her body which leads to a lot of problematic phrases and actions throughout the story. I don't think there is a scene she is in where she does not mention her issues with body image and weight loss which made it feel like this character had no development OTHER than her self image issues (which I find to be a problem). So often, phrases are thrown around so carelessly like "I WISH I could be anorexic" or "I've tried the bulimia THING" (hearing someone call a life-threatening eating disorder a "thing" as if it's a diet or choice boiled my blood, let me tell you). I found this to be horrendously insensitive and harmful to people who may struggle with their own body image or live with eating disorders; It really trivialized these issues in my opinion and made them seem so much less important than they are. When this character is fat-shamed by bullies, Amal and her friends respond by skinny shaming, making further derogatory comments that were equally as bad in my opinion. (Wouldn't it have been so much more productive to lift up your friend and standing against body-shaming than putting down another's body?) She also takes to unhealthy habits to propel her weight loss that could further put her in danger and they are never discussed as being unhealthy. It's a case of "it's my body I'll do what I want" and it's NEVER challenged. And at the end of the book, *spoilers* she's still unhappy with herself! The negative actions are never addressed, there is no story arc of accepting yourself, she's still trying diets in the last chapter, which makes it feel like all this harm was for nothing. I really really despised this portion of the book. If they had cut this character's really insensitive plot line, I probably would have given this book 4 or 4.5 stars but it was the detrimental to my reading experience.

The reason I picked up DMHLBIT was to experience the story of a Muslim teen, and that's what I got. I was really really satisfied with what I entered this book looking for and that's the most important thing to me!
Profile Image for Nora.
132 reviews185 followers
October 28, 2015
Ok. I see what the author was trying to do. She gets props for writing a novel with an Arab, Muslim main character that's not escaping an abusive husband or some other sort of oppression, as many books with Muslim women love to do. I appreciate that she added some much needed diversity to the YA market. Still, as a Palestinian-American Muslim hijabi, I was thoroughly disappointed.

I went into this book so excited that the MC was so similar to me and thinking that I could really relate to her. That didn't happen, sadly. The problem with this book is that it is WAY too dramatic and unrealistic. Abdel-Fattah attempts to portray Amal and her friends as realistic and relatable, but what she ends up doing is showing two girls from two extremely different sides of the spectrum. Most Muslim girls' lives are not like Amal's or Leila's, but are somewhere in between.

Allow me to explain. Amal's family is very, very, very liberal, to the point where they let their daughter go to an unsupervised party at a boy's house, where there is bound to be alcohol and where she is bound to be put in an undesirable situation with a boy. Of course, both of these things occur. Most practicing Muslim girls, particularly ones that wear hijab, wouldn't put themselves in this situation.

On the other side of the spectrum, we have Leila's family. Her mother is extremely strict. She wants to marry Leila off as soon as possible and doesn't want her to pursue an education and a career because that's "improper" for a girl. My friends, I assure you, this is something that is so, so rare in modern times. Only in SOME remote, extremist, parts of the world do SOME ignorant families treat their daughters this way.

Another thing that bothered me was the sheer melodrama of this book. When Amal decides to don the hijab, WAY too many people give her a hard time about it. I mean, in America, I've rarely been bothered because of my hijab. Most people completely ignore it, and many ask me questions about the hijab and about my faith out of honest, respectful curiosity. Every once in a while, I meet a hateful ignoramus, but thankfully these sort of people are in the minority. I'm sure the situation is similar in Australia. This is why I find it hard to believe all the hate that Amal has to endure.

All in all, I appreciate Miss Abdel-Fattah's attempt to write about the life of a young, Muslim, hijabi girl in a non-Muslim country. However, I have to say that most of this book is grossly inaccurate and improbable.
Profile Image for Shannon .
1,221 reviews2,158 followers
September 12, 2008
This was a random buy, picked up mostly because, flipping through it, the word Tasmania caught my eye - and then I read that the author is Australian. For purely nostalgic reasons I just had to read it.

Amal is a year 11 student in her third term at a posh private school in Melbourne. She's also Muslim. An only child, her parents are health-care professionals, she has a large extended family and friends from all backgrounds and religions. Before third term begins, she decides she's ready to wear the hijab "full-time". She doesn't come to this decision lightly - okay, so an episode of Friends helped - but she's sixteen and there are some serious repercussions to her decision. Like, the stereotyping and insults she'll get at school, and trouble finding a job. It's 2001, before the attack on the Twin Towers, but prejudice has been a part of her life for a long time already.

Her friends Eileen and Simone stick by her and don't see her any differently, and after a few days, the boy she has a crush on, Adam, starts talking to her again. Her friends from the Islamic school she used to go to, Leila and Yasmeen, are different kinds of Muslim again - Leila is incredibly smart and wants to be a lawyer, but her mother is uneducated and comes from a traditional background, and keeps bringing eligible men over for Leila to marry, while Yasmeen has no intention of wearing the hijab at all.

A great many stereotypes and misconceptions are confronted, questioned and explored in this humorous book. Amal's voice is natural and believable, and her story is an open window onto what many young Muslims deal with - and others. Her elderly neighbour, Mrs Vaselli, has estranged herself from her only child when he converted to Jehovah's Witness; Josh has certain Jewish traditions to contend with; Adam's mother left when he was young without so much as a word - all he gets are postcards on his birthday. Eileen's Japanese parents have their own expectations of her, and Simone's mum constantly tells her she has to lose weight if she ever wants boys to notice her. There's a whole gamut of what teens go through and put up with in this book, and it may sound like it would be crowded, but it's not. It may seem kinda pushy and too in-your-face, too, but it's handled with both delicacy and Amal's flair which gives things a very fresh look.

Aside from teen issues, the racial and religious prejudices are equally visible, appearing in many subtle and overt ways. I particularly loved the conversation between Amal and the school president, Lara, after 9/11 - Lara wants her to give a speech on the topic of Islam and terrorism, mistakingly making the connection, as many did/do, that since she's Muslim Amal must therefore understand why they did what they did. Her response was excellent:

"You're Christian, right?"
"...Yeah... what's that got to do with anything?"
"OK, well I'll give the speech if you give a speech about the Ku Klux Klan."

That Abdel-Fattah had an agenda in writing this book is obvious, and quite welcome too. It's a book that needed to be written. Some of it shocked me - the misconceptions and attitudes, I couldn't believe Australians - anyone - would think, say and do those things. But of course they do. It's a balanced approach, though - Leila's family shows that there are some who fulfill negative expectations, though the emphasis is made on the difference between Islamic teachings and cultural traditions, which are often confused by some Muslims themselves, like Leila's mother. Amal's parents are always encouraging her to see other people's perspectives and understand them better, where they are coming from and why they say and think as they do.

It's a quick read, and entertaining, and Amal is a great character. It's written well, over the space of a few months, and really engages you to think, question yourself, and react. A great book for teens and adults alike - and one Rosalind Wiseman should definitely add to her glossary of books to read at the back of Queen Bees & Wannabes.

I have only two issues: firstly, this edition. There's a reason why I don't like Scholastic books. Namely, they're cheaply put together, the pages are crinkled and they start to fall out. If you can get hold of a different edition, you should get it instead.

The second is the translation. You've heard me rant and rage about this before, but here's a prime example of Americanising a text until it's virtually unrecognisable. Even though there were familiar place names like Bridge Road and Luna Park (I used to live not far from St. Kilda, in Elwood - beautiful suburb!), so much had been changed I often forgot it was set in Melbourne at all. If something can be depersonalised, this book has been de-place-ised! It was so jarring I actually wrote the changes down - and the words that hadn't been changed, which was sometimes even stranger.

Aussie word: --- Changed to:
serviette --- napkin
primary school --- elementary school
tram --- streetcar
kilograms --- pounds
ABC/SBS --- PBS (not available in Australia)
biscuit --- cookie
grade/year 11 --- eleventh grade
rubbish bin --- trash can
milk bar/corner shop --- convenience store
mum --- mom
maths --- math
roundabout --- traffic circle
university/uni --- college
car park --- parking lot
pedestrian crossing --- crosswalk
000 --- 911
fringe --- bangs
plait --- braid
take away --- take-out
mobile (phone) --- cell phone
nappy --- diaper
4WD/four-wheel-drive --- SUV
thongs --- flip-flops
chilli --- chilli pepper
rubbish --- garbage

I don't want to know what would happen if a tourist, needing urgent help, was to dial 911 in Australia, but changing it in books is not doing anyone any favours. I actually think it's irresponsible and dangerous - and who couldn't figure out, at least from context, what was meant by "000"?? Also, changing "ABC documentary" (or SBS) to PBS really jolted me - I'd never even heard of PBS before moving to Canada; we certainly don't get any US channels!

Also, they put in some brand names we don't have, like Chips Ahoy, Q-Tips (which are commonly called ear buds or cotton buds) - I'm sure they would have changed "Vegemite" if they could have! They put in "medical school" and "pre-law" instead of ... whatever they replaced - in Australia, both law and medicine are offered as undergrad degrees, medicine is an 8-year degree, law 4. In short, I don't think you'd actually learn anything much about Australia from this book.

Curiously enough, there were some words they didn't change, including:
four-wheel-drive (they used this once, and in another place changed it to "SUV" - a slip?)
wuss (maybe not as Aussie as I thought?)
lollipop lady
fish and chips

Plus a couple of cultural references, such as Luna Park, Women's Weekly and Home and Away. Having been dislocated from the country itself by all the other changes, seeing these words made me even more confused. I wish they'd just leave well enough alone!!

Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,092 reviews6,578 followers
March 2, 2016
Brace yourselves because I'll probably be talking about this book for the next 20000 years.

Around the Year in 52 Books Challenge Notes:
- 36. An identity book - a book about a different culture, religion or sexual orientation
Profile Image for summer.
248 reviews299 followers
August 5, 2014
I have a massive amount of respect for Randa Abdel-Fattah for at least attempting to show that Muslims aren't these extremists that the media portrays us as, but instead just normal people. So props to her for her bravery.

BUT, being a Muslim myself, I feel like the author did not do a very good job of representing Islam, and on top of that, provided unrealistic scenarios that are very unlikely to happen.

Amal is very annoying. She is one of those stereotypical teen girls authors think they understand, but in reality, do not know ANYTHING about. The author tried WAY too hard to sound like a teenager, but she really made Amal sound like a shallow, whining 12-year-old.

I appreciate the feminist ideals in this book, which I think were necessary, but the author did not do well in actually integrating these ideals into the novel. She provided unrealistic scenarios, as I mentioned before. For example, the main character's best friend has a daughter who wants to get her married at a young age, an arranged marriage. As much as I loathe arranged marriages. I for one find it hard to believe that these kind of people exist in Australia. I don't know, maybe they do, but I know TONS of Arabs families who do not make their daughters marry who they want them to marry, or even at a young age. Who is going to marry a teenage girl who hasn't even finished high school yet?

The dialogue was So. Annoying. It was UNBEARABLE. No teenager repeatedly brings up religion in a normal conversation with her friends without being labeled as some preacher or overly-religious person.

I also found it very far-fetched that the main character would go through so much racist comments and discrimination in the course of one story, which I believe was about half a year. Come on, I wear a Hijab (scarf) too, and the most discrimination I face is the occasional rude comment (VERY rare) or just curious stares. It just was not believable that so much discrimination would be directed at one person.

The points that the author was trying to get across were so unsubtle and awkward. It felt like a teacher trying to shove everything in your mind all at once. In addition, she failed to explain what's the point in wearing a scarf. Duh, because of religion, but WHY do we have to wear it? What's the symbolism and what role does it play for a Muslim woman? Sadly, Abdel-Fattah doesn't answer any of these questions.

To tell you the truth, I recommend this book to people who are completely ignorant about Islam and know nothing about it, rather than people who actually know about Islam and are actually interested in learning about.
Profile Image for Kricket.
2,259 reviews
June 23, 2017
update, june 2017:
i read and reviewed this book ten years ago. please keep that in mind if you choose to comment. i'm not interested in discussing it now because i don't really remember it. thanks!

original review, september 2007:

Amal decides, completely on her own and without pressure from her (also Muslim) parents, to wear a headscarf (hijab) "full-time." Why? She wants to make a statement of her faith, and it makes her feel close to God as well as brave, especially at her prep school where she is the only Muslim. She also points out what a relief it is not to have to worry about people judging her body and worrying about her hair (but she encounters frequent judging of the hijab itself, and frequently spends as much time arranging it as she did her hair.)

My biggest problem was the preachiness. Instead of letting the story unfold naturally, the author adds numerous fake-feeling situations in which Amal defends her faith. I could list many, but the absolute cheesiest is when Amal is on a bus and the bus driver clearly hates her and her hijab. He turns up a radio show conveniently discussing "violent, terrible Muslims" until a kindly old woman next to Amal makes him turn it down. She then tells Amal about how she used to work with Muslim women and how she loved their hijabs and food. The scene was sappy and contrived, with crap dialogue to boot, and unfortunately the book is full of these.

Second biggest problem? Although the author clearly wrote this book partially for those who don't know a lot about Islam (has Amal explaining some basics of prayer and holidays to her non-Muslim friends, etc) she never gets into the meat of the hijab issue. Namely, WHY the headscarf is the chosen symbol of faith. Where does it come from? What's the history here? Or why, for example, Muslim women wear their symbol of faith on their heads, and not Muslim men. The narrator does make a reference to "hard-core feminists who don't get that this is me exercising my right to choose" but she never really explains WHY she made her decision, except that she just felt ready.

In summary, (in case you want to skip all of my above ranting) Abdel-Fattah spends too much time defending Islam to the obviously ignorant characters in the book, and not enough time explaining the faith of Muslims to her very intelligent readers who want to know.

Oh, if you have any recommendations for quality teen lit about Islam, PLEASE let me know!!
February 8, 2023

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I LOVED this! I've been wanting to read DOES MY HEAD LOOK BIG IN THIS? ever since I found it on a Goodreads list a couple years ago. I was so intrigued by the fact that it was about a Muslim girl's decision to wear a hijab for the first time, and that it was published in 2007. It was so hard to find books published by and about PoCs in the aughts, especially for teen audiences, and I was really curious to see how the author would handle the subject.

A lot of aughts-era YA doesn't age well. It's rife with slut-shaming and outmoded (but very much the mindset of the times) ideas about gender roles; there are jokes that age badly and come across as offensive; and the shallow and superficial nature of raunch/party culture can make the teenager characters feel extra shallow and superficial. But that's the period I grew up in, so I sort of have a bitter nostalgia for it. I don't miss it and I would never go back to it, but reading about that time period makes me remember when I was young.

Amal is a great heroine. She's bratty and sarcastic, but she has a (mostly) good head on her shoulders. At her heart, she is kind and wants the best for her friends and the people she loves. Her parents are very liberal in their practicing of Islam and the decision to wear the hijab is her own decision because she wants to take her faith to the next level. In the beginning, she's hyper-conscious about the social ramifications of the decision though, especially with how her friends and schoolmates will respond to her now, in the post-9/11 climate (the book is set in 2002). Other conflicts involve dealing with romantic feelings when her religion doesn't really allow for premarital PDA and the different strictness with which some people adhere to religion (Amal's friend, Leila, has an incredibly strict mother who wants her to drop out of school and get married, asap).

The book is incredibly, wonderfully diverse. Amal and her family are Palestinian. Her friend, Leila, is Turkish. Her school friend, Eileen, is Japanese. Their white friend, Simone, is plus-size. Amal's sort-of love interest, Adam, is Jewish. Racism is discussed pretty heavily and I saw some younger readers saying that what Amal experiences feels unrealistic, but given when this is set, it really isn't. A lot of what people say online now, in the grossest parts of Twitter, they used to feel comfortable saying to your face. Post 9/11, there was a LOT of Islamophobia and it was incredibly toxic for Muslim people (just look at some of the FOX News articles from that time period, if you can stomach it). I also saw some people taking issue with the fatphobia that Simone has internalized and I'm sorry to say that that was pretty accurate, too. Body positivity was just a glimmer in feminism's eye in the aughts. It's part of the reason I can't read a lot of chick-lit published before 2010 anymore. Her hatred of her own body and the way she hurts herself to be skinny (in this case, smoking) was basically condoned by society, whether it was fashion magazines, women's fiction, or movies like Bridget Jones.

I really liked the book. I think it holds up well and has a good message. I loved the dated pop culture references, like MSN chat, Jessica Simpson, Craig David music, and Big Brother (the TV show). DOES MY HEAD LOOK BIG IN THIS? has the same sort of humor as the Georgia Nicholson novels or old school Meg Cabot books. There are some problematic elements but for the most part, it still holds up, because it feels like such a raw and unflinching portrayal of what times were actually like back then, and also because the heroine is just so fully and unapologetically herself. I'll definitely have to read more from Ms. Abdel-Fattah because I love the voice she gave her heroine, and I kind of feel like it's probably hers, too.

4 to 4.5 stars
Profile Image for PattyMacDotComma.
1,430 reviews810 followers
April 14, 2022
“I was ready to wear the hijab.
That’s right, Rachel from ’Friends’ inspired me. The sheikhs will be holding emergency conferences.”

This was written in 2005, so the pop references are out of date, sadly, but the story is as relevant as ever. The narrator is Amal, a 16-year-old Melbourne Muslim schoolgirl who lives in a happy household with a mother who wears the headscarf, but nobody expected that Amal would want to. She’s about to start Year 11 (Junior Year) in high school, and she wants to be proud of her faith. She does do her prayers during the day in a quiet place at school, so it’s not a fad.

When I was a girl, women never went into a church without a hat or head covering of some sort. When I visited Rome as a girl, all females were required to cover their heads and shoulders. The pope wears his cap, which looks remarkably like the caps Jewish men wear. Go figure. But I digress.

Her parents are migrants, a doctor and a dentist, and they all have friends from many backgrounds, so she’s not trying to meet anyone’s expectations. If anything, she’s preparing herself to face more snide remarks and bullying, but she’s a spunky girl and always up for a good debate.

She’s a girly girl. Loves makeup and shopping and fast food (not pork) and movies and TV. When Rachel from ‘Friends’ is brave enough to get up and dance in a hideous bridesmaid’s outfit, Amal decides she should be brave enough, too. It’s not as if nobody noticed she isn’t an Anglo.

“At this stage you should probably also know that my name is Amal Mohamed Nasrullah Abdel-Hakim. . . . The teachers labelled me slow in preschool because I was the last child to learn how to spell her name.”

There's plenty about parties, flirting after school, dating, boys, and curfews. Some things are universal about Western high schools almost no matter when you were born. Texting is included, but an updated version that includes more recent social media would be great.

It’s a cute book, although a bit too educational for me, full of little information dumps about history, different cultures, school issues. But for young (and very young) readers, I'm sure it needs to be spelled out.

Her parents are surprised and concerned about repercussions and whether or not she’s ready for it. Mum, who does wear the hijab, has a great idea.

‘‘So how about we go for a test run tonight?’ Mum asks me. ‘Let’s go to Chadstone.’
. . .
Chadstone means make-up, designer clothes, great hair. So basically I’ve got to replace great hair with great hijab in the equation and I’m all set.
. . .
But as I browse through the shops I realise how uncomfortable and irrational I’m acting because it feels like most people really couldn’t care less.”

There is a strong element in the story of the difference between religious beliefs and cultural traditions. One of her best friends, Leila, is being raised by a Muslim mother who was married very young and whose life is only at home, cooking and cleaning. She wants the same life for her 16-year-old daughter and keeps introducing prospective marriage partners.

‘Do you know my mum hasn’t even read the Koran? She goes on what her mum told her and what her mum’s mum told her. That’s her scripture!’ She gives me a grim smile. ‘It’s like talking to somebody from another planet. She’s the one offending Islam,’ she whispers. ‘Not me.’

Not only that, Leila’s mum is out of date back in Turkey as well.

‘My mum insists on wearing floral-print scarves with lace trimmings. My cousins gave her so much grief about them over in Turkey. They’re all wearing these gorgeous silk and satin materials with funky patterns and there’s my mum wearing what can pass off as a doily.’

We’re an ignorant bunch, Anglo-Europeans. People just smile if little girls wear crosses as earrings or on neck chains. But, boy! Wrap a scarf around your hair, and suddenly you’re either weird or a terrorist or both.

This is a head covering. Scary?

Some may be scared of Her Majesty, but if her horses are running well, she’s happy.

We need to be exposed to more cultures and more history. Here’s one example I found of various styles.

Head coverings worn by women in different religions

Dr. Susan Carland, who wrote a book I reviewed earlier, Fighting Hislam - Women, Faith and Sexism, is a dinky-di Aussie girl,who converted from Baptist to Islam, much to the surprise of her parents. She later married university lecturer and lawyer, Waleed Aly, better known as a political commentator and TV host. She has got the whole bad hair taken care of perfectly!

Dr Susan Carland, an Australian academic and public speaker, particularly on Muslim women’s affairs

There are comparisons between Ramadan and Lent, and it’s an easy way to introduce the differences and similarities between cultures.

I think it’s suitable for older primary children, not just teens, and it would set them up well for high school, although none of them will know who Rachel from ‘Friends’ is, I guess.

(Read and reviewed January 2019. Goodreads seems to have the shelved date showing again.)

My review of Fighting Hislam - Women, Faith and Sexism is here:
Profile Image for Fahime.
329 reviews222 followers
August 11, 2015
امل، یک دختر 16 ساله ی مسلمان استرالیایی، تصمیم می گیرد یک محجبه ی تمام وقت شود. برای من که در یک کشور اسلامی به دنیا آمدم و بزرگ شدم، حس و حال امل باید عجیب باشد. اما نبود.
امل تنها محجبه ی جمع است؛ من خیلی وقت ها تنها چادری جمع بوده ام. به امل به خاطر حجابش متلک انداخته اند؛ به من به خاطر چادر. امل، از نظر اطرافیانش، نماینده ی تمام مسلمانان و عرب های دنیاست، هر مسلمانی هر کجای دنیا، هر اشتباهی کرده باشد، امل باید جواب پس بدهد؛ من در تاکسی و اتوبوس، سوپر مارکت و حتی سر کلاس، تبدیل می شوم به نماینده ی مذهبی ها و ولایت فقیه. هر کس گله و شکلایتی داشته باشد، خیلی راحت روانه می کند به طرف من.
حس و حال امل اصلا برای من غریبه نبود. کاملا درکش می کردم.
به نگاه های تمسخر آمیز و تحویل گرفته نشدن و اینها کاری ندارم:
تنها محجبه ی جمع بودن، یا تنها چادری جمع بودن مساوی ست با هجوم نگاه های تو به اینجا تعلق نداری. مهم نیست که باهوش باشی، خوش فکر، اهل مطالعه، "چادری" هستی. به اینجا تعلق نداری. یا حتی با صدای بلند: اینجا هم دست از سر ما بر نمی دارید؟
من خیلی زود تسلیم این طرز تفکر شدم. خواهرم به واسطه ی دانشجوی هنرهای زیبا بودن، مقاوم تر است. اما من، نه. کافه نمی روم. تئاتر هم. بعضی وقت ها حتی در کتاب فروشی هم راحت نیستم... اما تازگی ها اتفاقی افتاد که روی سینما هم خط کشیدم.
دختر خاله هایم را برده بودم رخ دیوانه، سینما آزادی، سالن اصلی. طبقه ی بالای بالا. فیلم که تمام شد، سفر طولانی پایین آمدن آن هفت طبقه با پله برقی آغاز شد. دختر و پسری از دور آمدند به سمت ما. انگار عجله داشتند. یک طرف ایستادم تا از کنارم رد شوند. اما نشدند. پسر دقیقا ایستاد پشت سر من و شروع کرد به صحبت کردن:
چه بوی بدی میاد!!! بوی پا میاد... بوی اینایی که مسجد می رن!!!
داشتم منفجر می شدم. اما تنها کاری که از دستم بر می آمد این بود که در اولین پاگرد پله ها، بایستم کنار تا با خنده از کنارم رد شوند. بعد با خودم فکر کنم سینما رفتن هم از لیست تفریحات حذف شد...
Profile Image for Nat.
553 reviews3,176 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
April 10, 2017
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With Sana Bakkoush - played by the effervescent Iman Meskini - recently announced as the main for Skam season four, as I’d so fervently hoped for back when I created my original Skam book tag, I wanted to immerse myself in some much-needed fiction told from the point of view of a Muslim hijabi girl as the main character. Does My Head Look Big in This? seemed to be the perfect starting point.

Set in Melbourne, Amal is a 16-year-old Australian-Muslim-Palestinian teen with all the usual obsessions about boys, chocolate and Cosmo magazine. She's also struggling to honour the Islamic faith in a society that doesn't understand it. The story of her decision to "shawl up" is funny, surprising and touching by turns.

(Fun fact: I started reading this right after having rewatched the above iconic episode in Skam season two, where the girls go to a remote cabin and Sana defies all their exceptions.)

Does My Head Look Big in This? started out incredible with following Amal's decision to wear a hijab as a full-timer.” I particularly loved getting to read her thought process leading up to that moment:

“I’m terrified. But at the same time I feel like my passion and conviction in Islam are bursting inside me and I want to prove to myself that I’m strong enough to wear a badge of my faith. I believe it will make me feel so close to God. Because it’s damn hard to walk around with people staring at your “nappy head” and not feel kind of pleased with yourself – if you manage to get through the stares and comments with your head held high. That’s when this warm feeling buzzes through you and you smile to yourself, knowing God’s watching you, knowing that He knows you’re trying to be strong to please Him. Like you’re both in on a private joke and something special and warm and extraordinary is happening and nobody in the world knows about it because it’s your own experience, your own personal friendship with your Creator. I guess when I’m not wearing the hijab I feel like I’m missing out. I feel cheated out of that special bond.”

• However, I quickly came to notice a number of problematic phrases thrown in here that rubbed me the wrong way, like describing someone angry as "psychotic" and the like. And I especially detested how this next conversation was handled:

“Anyway, back to your attempt to wear the hijab without the assistance of Revlon. I hate to disappoint you, but there are only a few women in this world who can get away with the natural look. Don’t you read New Weekly? “Stars without their make-up”, etc.? Hello? Do you have a big modelling contract you haven’t told me about? Are you co-starring in Brad Pitt’s next movie? If your answer to either of these questions is no, then go out and buy some cosmetic products this instant.”

I feel like Lilly Singh said it best when she talked about said topic:

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• Plus, I couldn't for the life of me why understand why Amal was so infatuated with Adam Keane. To borrow Scaachi Koul’s superb phrasing, this boy was the epitome of “forgettable, something that even now makes me think of warm, soggy bread, or crackers with the salt brushed off.” So when the book focused on those vapid white boys more than I liked, I was gone.

• Another thing I want to mention is that I feel like the author had this great opportunity of discussing body-image and taking care of oneself with Simone's character, who's described as: “incredibly self-conscious about her body. She doesn’t understand that it’s all in her mind. OK, so she’s not a size eight, can’t feel her ribcage and doesn’t have toothpicks for legs. She’s about a size fourteen and really voluptuous and curvy and gorgeous with big blue eyes, creamy, radiant skin and lips that look like she has permanent red lipstick on.” But that lesson of accepting yourself never really came... The only thing that came out of it was a lot of harmful and triggering sayings spewed, such as this next paragraph that made my head spin:

“Or I see all these model shoots of gorgeous beach babes with their bones poking into my hand when I turn the pages and I think, what’s the point? Even if I lost ten kilos and was in my weight–height ratio, people would still consider me fat. I wish I could become anorexic. How sick is that, huh? But I don’t have the self-control to live off a lettuce leaf a day. And I’ve tried the whole bulimia thing but I can’t even throw up. I’m just pathetic! Abnormal!”

... How is this in the final version of the book??? This ignorance and insensitivity consequently led to a lot of girl-on-girl hate while comparing herself to others. Speaking of which, those "mean girls" were never really given any characterization, so that blew off as well for me.

After all that I really tried giving this book multiple tries to impress me again, but I just kept getting disappointed time and again. So in the end I decided to give myself a break, in particular after reading this next horrible thing spit out of Amal's mouth about her friend's mom, who wouldn't let her daughter leave the house to go shopping:

“I’m just about ready to report Leila’s mum to immigration.
Grounds for deportation: stupidity.
Alternative country: none. No nationality deserves her. Send her to Mars.”

I just... how do you rollback from that???

So unfortunately Does My Head Look Big in This? was a DNF around the half-way point for me.
In the meantime, however, you can catch me rewatching these two recently released Skam clips until season four is out there in the world.
(I'm still amazed by the usage of the song.)

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Profile Image for K..
3,667 reviews1,006 followers
February 10, 2017
Okay, so here's the thing. I've just gone through and read a lot of the popular reviews for this book. And the vast majority of them mention the amount of judginess that Amal gets for wearing the hijab, the amount of weird looks and snide comments and generally not-okay stuff. Many of them mention that the reviewer also wears a hijab and doesn't experience any of that. Which is awesome and I'm thrilled.

However, I feel like all of these reviews missed one key thing: this book is set a) in 2002, less than a year after 9/11 and at the same time as the Bali Bombing, which is mentioned in the story, and b) at a snooty private high school in Melbourne's eastern suburbs. I attended a snooty private high school in Melbourne's eastern suburbs, graduating in 2000. And lemme tell you, friends, we had a year level of 70. There were maybe 15-20 Asian students in our class. And one Sri Lankan girl. That was it. The rest of us were the whitest skips you'll ever come across (although admittedly, one was of Greek descent and...two??...were of Italian descent).

Anyway. If a girl in our year level had started wearing a hijab, we would have gone along with it. But there would have been a LOT of "OMG, do you think her parents made her do it??" and "Wait, so do you wear it at home or just in public?" and "Does this mean you can't buy food from the canteen now?". Because by and large, snooty private high schools in Melbourne's eastern suburbs are populated by sheltered white kids from privileged backgrounds who've always attended school with sheltered white kids from privileged backgrounds.

I can remember a friend telling me that her family (who came by boat from Vietnam during the war) were Buddhist but that her older sister was Catholic, and my head basically exploded because it had never occurred to me that people would change religions.

So yeah, in 2012-6, people passing comment on a girl wearing a hijab may have dropped dramatically, which ABOUT BLOODY TIME, IT'S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS IF SOMEONE WANTS TO WEAR A HIJAB OKAY. But in 2002 in the snobby eastern suburbs of Melbourne? Seeing someone wearing a hijab was basically unheard of.


Let's talk about this book. I liked the characters. I liked the story. But it feels INCREDIBLY dated now. It was published in 2005 and is set, as I said, in 2002. The characters watch Friends and Seinfeld. They send text messages like twice a day because those suckers cost 25c each. They hang out in chat rooms because social media didn't exist. They go to Timezone and Sanity after school. They shop on Bridge Road because that's where all the outlet stores were at the time.

So it spoke very strongly to MY teen experiences, and all of that stuff was a complete "Oh my God, I remember when we used to do that!!" trip. But I have no idea whether teenagers in 2017 would relate to it, even if they go to snooty private schools in Melbourne's eastern suburbs...

I'll also add that while I loved both of their characters and I really liked Amal's parents, it felt like Amal and Leila's experiences were meant to represent the two opposite ends of the Muslim spectrum. Amal's parents are incredibly liberal and let her attend a party at a boy's house where there's likely to be alcohol. Leila's parents are incredibly conservative and her mother is desperate to marry her off to a good Turkish Muslim man who'll support her before Leila gets any more ideas in her head about becoming a lawyer and having a career. So yeah. It would have been nice to see more stuff that was somewhere in the middle.

Nostalgia factor? 10/10. But it was occasionally sliiiightly preachy and I have no idea if teenagers would relate to a lot of it...
Profile Image for نور  شافعة.
277 reviews178 followers
January 15, 2019
The story of 16-year-old Amal, an Australian-Palestinian who struggles with standard high school drama, in the context of being a Muslim girl who has recently adopted the hijab. 
Amal does break other stereotypes. She’s a Muslim teenager and she watches Sex in the City. She has a mad crush on her classmate Adam, showing that Muslims are in fact not asexual! It’s interesting to see how the author handles the conflicting forces within Amal: she is intensely attracted to Adam (from forearm lust to his personality), but she does not believe any romantic relationship is appropriate outside marriage.
For a book that’s a “journey of faith” as the dust jacket advertises, there’s a lack of clear spirituality. Amal goes through the actions of religion; she prays, she fasts, she wears hijab, and she doesn’t shy from explaining her beliefs to her classmates.
This is a great read for anyone at all interested in having a greater appreciation of the courage it might take to dare to be different in today’s world.
I enjoyed it, it was very well written, funny, realistic and easy to understand.
Profile Image for Ahmed.
911 reviews7,389 followers
July 24, 2015

هى تستحق ثلاث نجمات ونصف فأعطيتها 3 نجمات , عمل مبدع فى طرحه للقضيه, القضيه الأزليه التى تعانى منها الجاليات (المسلمه) فى المجتمعات (الغربيه) وهى درجة الانسجام في تلك المجتمعات,

ولطالما كانت القضايا الشكليه صاحبة الصخب الأعلى : الحجاب أو النقاب بالنسبه للمرأة واللحيه أو الزى بالنسبه للرجل,
وبم أن المؤلفه أنثى فقد اختارت ما يخصها وهى قضية الحجاب وأعتقد أن العمل مبنى على مواقف حقيقيه تعرضت لها الكاتبه أو أنها كانت مبدعه فى عرضها لمشاكل غيرها.

المجتمع الأسترالى الذى تشعر ف ثنايا العمل بانه مجتمع جيد تشوبه روح المساواة والمسامحه,

مشهد استجواب المراهقين والمراهقا�� لزميلتهم(بخصوص الحجاب وهل أجبرها أهلها على ارتدائه وانها تهكمت عليهم وقالت : انهم أخبروها ان لم ترتديه فسوف يزوجوها لرجل مصرى عنده 50 سنه ويمتلك جِمال :D :D :D ) من أمتع ما يكون , فقد تقمصت الكاتبه روح مراهقه عمرها 16 سنه وخصومها وما يعترك فى داخلهم فى هذا السن الحرج.

روح الدعابه متاحه جدا فى العمل .
اللغه ورغم ترجمتها فهى جيده وبسيطه و(عاديه)وهذا ما تلاحظه.
فى المجمل عمل جيد وليس مبهر : قدم المجتمع بشئ من السطحيه والشخصيات بسطحيه أكبر.

لم تتعمق المؤلفه فى الناحيه النفسيه للشخصيات بل قدمت ظواهر انسانيه بفعل ورد فعل ليس أكثر بينما كان فى الأمكان أكثر بكثير مما كان .
Profile Image for Yousra.
455 reviews78 followers
February 20, 2021
Let me start out by saying that this book is a book that NEEDED to be written and should, hopefully, be read.
This follows the life of a Muslim teen struggling to live her life according to her own beliefs while surrounded by prejudice and ignorance and it's written in an easy, funny way so it doesn't get too depressing or boring.
It shows how awfully scared Amal is to wear the hijab because of how it changes the way people would look at her; instead of seeing the same person, just a teenager, they automatically start seeing a sign that reads "I am Muslim" and judge her right away.
What I loved most, though, was how it showed how differently each Muslim understood, approach, and applied their Islam.
It teaches you not to stereotype people and to never let politics tell you how to treat someone; a bad Muslim/Christian/Jew..etc doesn't mean all Muslims/Christians/Jews are the same, and it certainly, doesn't necessarily mean that neither Islam nor Christianity, or Judaism are completely bad.
8 reviews1 follower
July 13, 2007
...oh dear. Political comment thinly - and poorly - disguised as teenage chicklit. Badly written, tedious and ranty; fancies itself as simultaneously intellectual and American-sitcom-ish. And, ironically, crammed full of stereotypes.
Profile Image for Nawal Al-Qussyer.
167 reviews2,132 followers
April 11, 2011
سمعت عن الكتاب كثيرا.. وما سمعته من المديح كان كثيرا جدا جدا. لذلك عندما شاهدت الكتاب على رف المكتبة التقطه بسرعه لشراءه .. وكأني لا أتوب من الحماس لكتاب تحدث عنه الكثيرين. لكن طبعا كما هو واضح من التقييم أن الكتاب ليس جيد كفاية بالنسبة لي..

بداية الكتاب يتحدث عن الفتاة أمل المسلمة -في سن المراهقة- من أسره فلسطينية تعيش في استراليا. والتي قررت أن ترتدي الحجاب بإلهام من رايتشيل قرين - نعم شخصية من مسلسل فرندز الشهير - حينما قررت ريتشل أن تظهر أمام الحضور غير مكترثة بما يقوله الناس عن ردائها في أحد المناسبات + حكمهم عليها لأمور حدثت ليس هناك مجال للحديث عنها..

أعجبتني البداية كثيرا.. شعرت أنها غير تقليدية ، ولا أعرف ان تدخل حبي الشديد لمسلسل فرندز في الاعجاب بالبداية أم أنها فعلا بداية موفقة. لكن ما تأكدت منه أني عندما قرأت البداية تحمست كثيرا ثم بدأت أفقد حماسي شيئا فشيئا حتى سيطر الملل على قراءة هذا الكتاب.

تأخذنا رنده في رحلة عبر قرار أمل وما حصل وما تفكر فيه والصعوبات التي تواجهها المرأة المسلمة بحجابها كعدم القبول في عمل مثلا. او عدم قبول شكل الحجاب في المدرسة. وما إلى ذلك

أشعر أني تعرفت من هذا الكتاب عن قليل من كثير عن حياة المسلمين في الخارج والذين يصارعون حتي لايفقدوا هويتهم تماما. أيضا باستعراضها لبعض الصعوبات والمشاكل فقد وضعتني في خضم المشكلة حين ترتدي المرأة الحجاب..
أعتقد أن الكتاب في كثير من الفصول كان عن المراهقة أكثر من كونه يتحدث عن فتاة مسلمة قررت أن ترتدي الحجاب.. يظهر ذلك في حياتها وعلاقتها مع والديها والحوارات التي تشعرك أنك تشاهد مسلسل داوسن كريك ، في اعجابها بالفتى المشهوو في المدرسة الخ الخ
أيضا أشعر أن الكتاب سيكون جيدا ومشجعا لأولئك الفتيات اللاتي يردن أن يرتدين الحجاب في الخارج.. سيكون حافز لهم وشيء يلامس خوفهم وتساؤلاتهم والصعوبات..

وهذا ما أعجبني في الكتاب علاوة علي مبادرتها الرائعة في الحديث عن الحجاب في وقت كان فيه الحديث عن
مثل هذه الأمور حرج بعض الشيء.
أيضاا أعجبتني بعض المرات أمل في الرد على من يهاجم حجابها أو يقف ضدها بعنصرية .
الأسلوب لازلت أراه ممل جدا. الكثير من الحوارات والتي بدون طائل.. الكثير من السيانريوات السخيفة.. والمحدودة جدا.. حتى أني شعرت أن الموضوع لم يعد عن الحجاب في كثير من المرات.
الشخصيات في الرواية لا أعرف لم لكني شعرت أنها غير مكتوبة باخترافية اطلاقا.. شعرت أنها بدون عمق كافي
one-dimensional ان صح التعبير
أيضا لم أجد في الكتاب الكثير من الحديث عن رحلة الحجاب أو الكثير من بعض العوائق للمسلمين هناك.. لم أشعر بذلك كثيرا سوا بقرار الحجاب والصعوبات التي تخيلتها ثم شعرت أن هناك حلقات مفقودة في الحديث عن ماتريد ايصاله وعن ماتكتبه فعلا..
لم يعجبني التشتت هنا.

أسلوب الكتاب - باللغة الانجليزية طبعا - سهل جدا جدا ��أعتقد أن الجميع بامكانه أن يقرأه ويفهم أغلبه. لكن كأسلوب كتابة طبعا فلازلت أرى أنه أسلوب غير جيد تماما ربما صادق لكني لا أشعر معه بعمق . أسلوب عادي .
أرى أنه من وجهة نظر فتاة في سن المراهقة سيكون ممتاز وينال اعجباها ، لكن ليس من وجهة نظري طبعا..

لا أنصح بالكتاب لأي أحد من معارفي .. ول اأعلم عن ذائقتك حتى أنصحك به.. لا أرى أن الكتاب مؤثر لكن بالتأكيد قرأت ان الكثير من الفتيات بالخارج تأثرن به. فلذلك أشعر أن هذا الكتاب قراءته ستكون أجدى للمسلمين في الخارج وغير المسلمين للتعرف على بعض مايعانيه المسلمين.

الخلاصة .. -بالنسبة لي - كتاب ممل ، ينقصه الكثير من فن الرواية - تتخبط في مواضيع كثيرة ورطت نفسها بالحديث عنها ولو خصصتها للحجاب وبعض الامور الاخرى لكان أفضل - جيد لفئة مخصصة - جيد للمراهقين بهذا الاسلوب .

I have mixed feelings about it but I would give it a rating of 2.5 out of 5.. The whole story is told from Amal’s point of view. Amal, an Australian-Palestinian girl decides to go "full time" and wear her hijab inspired by an episode of Friends, where Rachel braves the crowd to perform Copacabana after an embarrassing moment. I like the idea of this book and I think that we need more of this kind of books.
I think this book is about more than being a Muslim. It is about being a teen.
I had high hopes for this book. I hoped it would be so deep, but the characters are very one-dimensional. i think the book is too easy, and the characters could be more in depth and I find it boring. I also thought the book did over-exaggerated in some points. but I kind of like Amal's sarcasm and the way she stands up for herself at times. in general this book is somewhat childish and typical( a girl going for the popular guy, the parents' discussions, etc ).


الحمد لله أني انهيت هذا الكتاب الممل. سأعود لإضافة المراجعة حينما أُمنح بركة الوقت .. أعدكم سيكون ذلك قريبا ان شاء الله
Profile Image for Anna Staniszewski.
Author 31 books303 followers
January 7, 2008
I was hoping this book would be laugh-out-loud funny - it wasn't. But it had a light-hearted tone and I felt like I got a lot out of it. It was so interesting to read about an Australian-Palestinian girl who was just a regular teenager, not a victim or a religious fanatic. Her faith was an important part of her life, but it wasn't her entire life. But more importantly, I think this kind of book reminds you that "Islamic militants" are a very small part of the Muslim population, just like "radical Christians" don't represent all of Christianity. Since the main character in the book was the only Muslim girl in her school, to her classmates she was the token representative of her religion. This was sad but also very true to life. So often when I've been in a class with one male student, that student is inevitably called upon to speak for his entire gender. People tend to categorize and this book reminds us of that. Despite some clunky dialogue, I thought the story presented the often overlooked perspective of a strong, believable girl who is proud of her Muslim faith.
Profile Image for Khalid.
155 reviews66 followers
December 12, 2008
"Does My Head Look Big In This?" is the story of a Australian-Palestinian girl who decides to wear Hijab and the way her surroundings react to this decision.

I chose to read this book because the subject of Hijab is an interesting one to me; Hijab, in Saudi Arabia, extends beyond what's available in this story. Here, a woman is expected to cover her face completely, not just her hair. I am completely against that for more than one reason, the simplest of which are the fact that it's merely a cultural thing and not a religious thing, and the religious folk around here consider it a good habit that they do not wish to change (Which I really find bad, because who are they to decide what's "Good to have" and what's not; they should realize that the preferences of the top guys trickle down to become imperatives that have to be followed). The other goes into the human side of things; our faces are an important part of our identities, and who are we without our identities?

There is a lot to say about the subject, but I'm not here to go into a whole rant about the subject of Hijab. Afterall, the form of Hijab used in this book is not the one I'm against. Still, though, it is interesting to read about it; the question I had opening the book was: Is Hijab going to change the girl's behavior, is it going to serve its desired purpose of not attracting men, is it going to make her a better Muslim?

The answer, on all three counts, is a big fat no. I'm not going to say that the author was even trying to say that Hijab is good, she may have wanted to demonstrate exactly the opposite, I am not sure (In fact, you may be very interested to learn that the author herself does not wear Hijab, apparently, I just realized that now by visiting her author page in Goodreads). For all we know, she may have wanted to demonstrate exactly that Hijab is not what a real Muslim is about; and if this was what she aimed for, I would say that she did a good job at that.

Why? Well, for one thing, she managed to dance in front of guys with her Hijab (And I'm sure you realize that dancing will attract far more attention than hair). She started putting more make up. And even though the act of putting the Hijab itself gave people around her the brief idea that she's "out of bounds", she managed, during the course of the story, to change that, and make people feel that her Hijab has no "I'm pure" effect at all. I'm not going to go further into that in order to not spoil the story for you.

But then again, let me go back and say, it's a novel. You do not have to have a point in the novel. It is there for entertainment purposes, and she did entertain us with very interesting stories. This author has the potential of being a very good novel writer, but her story was lacking a very important ingredient. It had the interesting small problems, the interactions, the complete theme, the good and the bad people. So what is missing?

I'd say that a real "story" is actually missing. Yes, she decided to wear Hijab two pages into the story, and then what? What are we looking for towards the end? There are important elements of fiction that are missing here. I would say that the way it is written right now, it's nothing more than a set of interesting glorified short stories that deal with the same people over and over.

Finally, I would have to commend the author for the cultural touch of the book; I believe the best thing about this book is that it leaves us with an idea about the lives of Muslims living in foreign countries, some of their struggle with keeping their culture intact, and the cultural pressure they undergo during unfortunate events.

In summary, read this book; expect some entertainment, and you may be left with something to think about, but do not expect a solid storyline.
Profile Image for علا عنان.
Author 1 book211 followers
October 14, 2012
الكتاب رائع , دمه خفيف, مسلي, ما بتحس بالوقت وانت بتقرأ ومشوق لدرجة انو ممكن تخلص من قراءة الصفحات ال400 على قعدة وحدة:-)
الكتاب رواية على لسان بنت استرالية مسلمة من اصل فلسطيني, وبتقرر تلبس الحجاب وهي بالثانوية العامة.. الكتاب بتعرض لمواقف كتير اهمها: علاقة الغرب بالمسلمين, الارهاب , صعوبة المراهقة, صراع التقاليد الشرقية مع تعاليم الاسلام الحقيقية.. وحاجات تانية كتير لكن بأسلوب خفيف ومرح وجديد..
حبيت أمل , بطلة القصة, وحبيت رندة عبد الفتاح مؤلفة الرواية , من أول صفحة لآخر صفحة
Profile Image for Rebecca.
4,572 reviews177 followers
October 25, 2010
I snatched this book right up off the new books shelf, because how often do you see a girl wearing a hijab on the cover? The cover flap told me that it was about 16-year-old Amal's decision, as an Australian-Palestinian-Muslim girl, to wear the head scarf full-time.

And that's really the basis for the story. This seemingly small decision is a big deal for her parents, who don't want her to jump into a big decision, her classmates at her snobby prep school, who take advantage of the stereotypes that Muslims are terrorists and keep their women downtrodden, her crush, Adam, who just wants to like her without religion "getting in the way," and her two pairs of friends (two are Muslim, two are not), who support her unconditionally.

What I liked most about this book was that Amal herself never had a crisis of faith; she was in a stable family with a solid foundation that religion is ideally based on education and respect. When Amal decides to wear her beliefs so visibly, it really brings to her notice the different views of those around her, from her cranky Greek Orthodox neighber to her friend Leila's ultra-conservative mom who just wants to marry Leila off at a young age (which Amal's mom does not agree with, even though they are both Muslim). Finally, Amal makes peace with the idea of what it means when god says, "we have created man and know what his soul is whispering within him. We are closer to him than his jugular vein." She knows that there are more important reasons to do things than because your parents say so or because of what your friends will think. This is a typical teen story full of food, friends, crushes, music, and TV, but it develops a heart as it goes.

Favorite quote:

"Mr. Taylor has this habit of emphasizing his point by using three adjectives or verbs in a row. 'Class, you must know,' Simon begins [imitating] in a droning voice, flinging her arms around at every syllable, 'that should you fail to understand, to comprehend, to FEEL the power of the Constitution’s words you will lose, forfeit, SURRENDER your ability to master the meaning of this most important document. You must read with an open mind in order to nurture, care for, and FOSTER your citizenship. Do I make myself clear, succinct, and COMPREHENSIBLE?'
Profile Image for Mimo.
131 reviews4 followers
October 16, 2007
Have you ever had one of those weeks/months/years where no book is able to hold your attention? And you need a good one to break the trend? For me, this was that book.

Amal is a 17 year-old Muslim Australian who goes to a snobby (read WASP) school in the suburbs. She's always been a practicing muslim, but before the start of this book she hasn't worn the scarf, or hijab, full time. Does My Head Look Big in This chronicles her journey from deciding to "go full time" (inspired by an episode of Friends, no kidding) through debates with family, dealing with schoolmates, worrying about what her crush and friends will think, and learning what her faith and convictions really mean to her. The writing style is in first person and very conversational, funny and easy to follow. I found myself wanting to be friends with Amal.

I'd recommend this book to any teen-- especially one who has ever had to defend or uphold a personal stance, religious or not. I actually think i would recommend this book for Christian teens or teens interested in Christian fiction, because the main character is strong in her faith while still dealing with all of the pressures of society and other people's conceptions about her religion and its followers.
The only think that I didn't like was that at times it was a bit preachy.
196 reviews6 followers
April 21, 2009
Young adult book about a high school student in Australia who decides to wear the hijab. I don't love this one. Written in the first person present tense, I feel like the narrator’s lecturing me. Other than that, the writing style is good. It’s humorous and sometimes that works. I think two things are unsettling for me: Nothing much changes. The main character decides to wear the hijab and sticks to that decision but doesn’t really examine it except superficially. So we don’t see any growth or change in her. And second, it’s preachy. If I were reading this book as someone who doesn’t know anything about Islam, I might feel differently. I’m not sure about that. It’s kind of like the author set out to teach readers about hijab, prayer, Ramadan, etc. and tackles those topics in that order, a couple of pages per issue. Ho-hum.

I wanted to like this book because I think there's a real need for books that show Muslims as normal people--not victims, not terrorists. This book attempts that but it's so boring I still can't recommend it.
Profile Image for رزی - Woman, Life, Liberty.
215 reviews88 followers
April 25, 2022
از اون کتاب‌هاست که سال‌ها پیش خونده بودم و الان چیز زیادی ازش یادم نیست. صحنه‌ای که به روشنی یادمه، جاییه که پسری خواست أمل رو ببوسه و أمل اون رو پس زد و براش توضیح داد که در دین اون قبل از ازدواج قرار نیست با کسی رابطه‌ی جنسی داشته باشه. پسره خیلی تعجب کرد و این قانون براش درک‌نشدنی بود.
Profile Image for ☆Pelumi☆.
264 reviews321 followers
May 2, 2021
I don't know for sure, but this has the best muslim rep in all the books I've read so far🤔
Profile Image for Dina M.hamdy.
46 reviews101 followers
July 8, 2017

أفلام هوليوود عن المراهقين والمراهقات ..
حياتهم و روتين المدرسة اليومي بأحداثه وغلاسة البنات البلاستيك و حواديت عن الواد الحليوة الفانتاستيك كل الآحداث المشابهة بأفلام زي

Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Mean Girls (2004)
American Pie (1999)
Clueless (1995)
Juno (2007)
Never Been Kissed (1999)
Grease (1978)

ووووو كتييييير أوي
منها اللي لسه معلق معانا ومنها اللي قضينا وقت لطيف وعدى وفات
الكتاب بيحمل نفس الفكر ونفس التفاصيل لكن مع اختلاف واحد غيــّــر انطباع الفكرة الرئيسية وعمق رسالة المؤلفة ..
قصة البنت المسلمة اللي من أصول عربية لكن مولوده وع��يشة في بلد غربي وبعد أحداث سبتمبر بسنة بتاخد قرار انها تلبس الحجاب بالتزامن مع بداية السنة الدراسية ، القرار اللي بيعتبر صدمة لكل اللي حواليها أولهم أهلها وكيفية تعاملها مع ردود أفعال زمايلها في المدرسة وجيرانها وهل بتقدر تثبت على قرارها فعلا ولا الظروف بتكون أقوى ف تغير رأيها ...

لينك فيديو المراجعة على اليوتيوب

الكتاب لطيف جدا وواخد الى حد ما في أغلب صفحاته اتجاه كوميدي أضاف إليه خفة دم مش ظريفة للغاية لكنه بسيط جدا على عكس توقعاتي أنه ممكن بيحمل أفكار أو حوارات قوية بالعكس خالص ابتعدت تماما عن كل ده واكتفت بكلام يكاد يكون سطحي بالنسبة لينا عن الاسلام أوحتى الديانات عموما لكنه كان بيحمل بعض الاجزاء والمواقف الانسانية الجميلة والخفيفة أيضا .
المؤسف بالنسبة ليا اني قررت اقارن الكتاب بالنسخة المترجمه وللاسف الموضوع كان شبه فاشل ومستفز في أغلب الأوقات ،

** مابين ترجمة اسماء الاغاني والممثلين والافلام بحروف العربي حسب نطق المترجمه
( للمثال وليس الحصر)

Friends = فريندز
Take my breath away = تيك ماي بريث أواي
Scanner = السكانر

** ومابين ترجمة بعض التعبيرات والمصطلحات الشبابية المنتشرة بطريقة مريبة جدا مثال

Give me a break = امنحني راحة
صفحة 30


المترجمة الحقيقة يُــحتسب لها إنها حاولت تنقل جو المرح والروشنة اللي في الكتاب للغة العربية الفصحى لكني شخصيا مش عارفة اتقبل بتاتاً اللغة مع لون وإيقاع كتاب بالشكل ده وعلى ما أعتقد - من وجهة نظري - إن المشكلة كانت في اختيار المادة للترجمه من الأساس عن طريق دار النشــرنفسه ومش مشكلة مترجمه ..
في النهاية نصيحتي لأي شخص فعلا ناوي يجرب حظه مه الكتاب وياخد فكرة عنه وبيعرف يقرا انجليزي يبقى بلاش من الأول كده تجازف مع الترجمة .

l Youtube Channel l Facebook Page l Blog l instagram l
Profile Image for Zehra.
10 reviews
August 24, 2014
Okay so I'm a Muslim girl going into 11th grade ( I wear the head scarf full-time) and my friends told me this is a good book. So I read it and let me tell you what I thought of this book was completely different then my friends . If you want a good book I suggest "The ten things i hate about me" it felt more relate-able then this book, about a normal Muslim life.

Please note their is going to be a few SPOILERS (nothing to big).

When i first pick up this book I believed I was going to read a book about a girl, Amal, who lived in a racist neighborhood and thus the hijab (head scarf) was a major decision and what lead to her decision of being a full-time wearer. Instead I get her decision in the first two pages. I was if-ie at that part .

Then Amal goes to school and I find out about her school uniform and you do not go to a school that has a uniform with a head scarf any color of the rainbow without asking about it with the head of the school. What was she thinking, she knew she had to do it instead she goes waltzing in the school. (My school has uniform and if I did that,I would have to go to the office and wait for my parents). The principal let her off easy. Then everyone stares at her but after a few days everyone is okay with it . Only the snobby girls are making remarks. So I'm like this novel is not about a girl trials and tribulations wearing the hijab.

Then I read Amal puts on make-up (for those who do not know the point of putting on the hijab is for modesty putting on make-up attracts attention so it goes against the whole point of pointing on the hijab.)
for no real reason .I put on makeup when i have to go out for a party or a wedding or an event because it like mandatory thing for all girls to put make up ,other than that never.

We get Amal's other firends Lelia and Yaseem . Yaseem I really didn't think she the best of friends for Amal. Lelia that different Okay so first of all one does not live in a 1st world country for like 20 years and still thinks her daughter never has the right to go work ,so Lelia's mom is a stereotype right there. And her never reading the Qu'ran is hmm how do you say blasphemie( I mean their are websites in which you can go and hear the Qu'ran , for those who don't know Qu'ran is the right way you koran the author didn't even bother with that small note, wit the translation so their is no way she can be that arrogant about her religion . So lelia mother isn't even that real. Also the bashing on Lelia's mother is far to much ,it normal for a host to literally make sure her guest gain a few hundreds pounds when they come over to eat. (sorry that part annoyed me the most.) Also I know a few people who have mothers that think women have to get married and do everything around the house and men do nothing around the house. But that the most extreme your'll see in a 1st world country, (also they want their kids to have a good job. )So she bashed for no reason and just made as a horrible person.

Then Amal goes and befriends her crush Adam . She committing a big big mistake to have lustfull thoughts about a guy and then to befriend him, So i wasn't surprise when spoiler, he kisses her and she like i cant I'm wearing a hijab . For goodness sakes you lead him on in the first place. your at fault take the blame . But also after days they go back to being friends what is up this girl. A Guy who friend does not kiss you and want to have relationship with you will happily be friends with you and not have any sort of romantic feelings for you is plain impossible.

Amal's parents are also very, very lenient they let her go to a teenage party that was going to have dancing and alcohol, though Amal lied to them, completely unsupervised . You know what worse the amount of lying Amal does to her parents on a daily basis ,and not about petty little things ,but about huge events. It comes to a point that Amal thinks it okay to lie which is big no-no and major sin . Lelia dream of being a lawyer ,I'm sorry to say lawyers have to lie a lot in their line of work so Lelia's dream job is to go against Islam.

Then she also dances at the party . Dancing with men around is something that can be written off as seductive. And inviting them to have your body honestly this is down right wrong.

I swear though out the whole book Amal is acting like a stereotypical teenager who put on the head scarf to make herself feel like a better Muslim. When all she does is just be one huge hypocrite.

You know what the worst part was the author never answered the question why do Muslim girl wear the hijab (head scarf). My uncle who isn't that religious asked me about the hijab so i told him its for modesty since people will like me for who i am on the inside on on the outside. So Amal's whole purpose of wearing the hijab is ruined and the big question never answer maybe because if she answered it she would have to admitted to be a hypocrite.

So in the end the book isn't about a girl finding her right path and becoming a better Muslim it about a girl who is simply putting on for show she a good Muslim.
Profile Image for Ashley.
100 reviews3 followers
August 12, 2008
Wow. I got through 25 pages of this book before throwing it aside.

I had picked this up on a whim from the library because it seemed moderately interesting and different from what I've read in the past. Sadly, it failed to entertain me for more than ten minutes.

The narrarator's voice is so annoying, it makes me want to scream. Dropping a pop culture reference every 10 words does not acheive a teen perspective. I should know, as I'm pretty much the age of Amal. And it seems as if the author is operating on the classic stereotype of a teen and hasn't actually interacted with one in several years. As in, we're not all airheads interested in nothing but looks and the opposite sex. And even those who are have personalities beyond the shallowness.

And I hate the lists in the book. When I read, I like to read paragraphs. Amazing, isn't it?

I don't plan on finishing this. I'll reread something else if I have to.
Profile Image for Fatemeh Eftekhari.
111 reviews67 followers
June 12, 2016
در تمام طول داستن حسرت خواندن کتاب این چنینی با این جذابیت در بستر فرهنگی خودمان را خوردم
با خوندن این کتاب میشه قدر خییلی از نعمت های ساده رو دونست....
Profile Image for April.
2,101 reviews950 followers
November 10, 2012
I've always been interested in learning about religions which are different from mine. I was raised Baptist. I've learned a lot about Judaism through books. The only books I've read pertaining to Islam though, were A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner by Khaled Housseni. When I saw a young adult book featuring a Muslim girl on the cover, my interest was piqued.
Read the rest of my review here
Profile Image for Hasna M..
41 reviews24 followers
December 3, 2018
Great book! This story is a lot like mine when I started to wear the hijab. The big difference is that I was in fourth grade. I think that it was amazing how the author wrote this story along the lines of her life so this was basically a memoir. This book wouldn't let me put it down when I started to read it! I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the religion Islam and is WILLING to learn.
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