Saturday, March 27, 2010

Book of the Week


This week's book title is in the form of a question: Does My Head Look Big In This? The question is not about wearing a helmet, a ski hat, or a baseball cap, but a hijab. A hijab is a Muslim head scarf, which is traditionally worn by Muslim girls and women to cover their hair. For the main character, Amal, this religious tradition puts her at risk for all sorts of problems at her non-Muslim high school.

The book takes place in Australia, so there are not the same sorts of post 9/11 jokes, taunts, and stereotypes as I'm sure we have in the United States, but there are a lot of assumptions and misunderstandings about why Amal would want to wear the hijab. That's right, this is her choice, not her parents. She wants to wear this traditional scarf because she is feeling more and more in tune with the teachings of her religion. Her friends, her family, and the teachers at school don't understand this choice, but Amal needs to find the strength and the answers within her if she is to hold fast to her decision to don the hijab.

This read is an insightful look into what it must feel like to want to take part in and be proud of a religion that is severely misunderstand. Aman must either stop practicing her religion, which she loves, or risk not fitting in with the non-Muslims at her school. This is a tough decision for any teen. Even if you do not practice the Muslim or any other religion, it is easy to see that there are connections between this character and those who stand up for their beliefs. When it comes down to it, are you willing to risk friendships for your beliefs? Are you willing to be misunderstood and be rejected or would you rather hide your beliefs be accepted?

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