Does My Head Look Big In This? (Review)

August 24, 2010

Book cover for "Does My Head Look Big in This?" by Randa Abdel-Fattah.Title: Does My Head Look Big In This?

Author: Randa Abdel-Fattah

Narrator: Rebecca Macauley

Publication Year: 2005

Pages: 368

Genre: Fiction, Young Adult

Source: Audiobook downloaded free courtesy of Sync

From the cover:

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.

I have now officially read all three of Abdel-Fattah’s books, and I just keep on getting more impressed!

This novel starts as the protagonist, Amal, is making the decision to start wearing the hijab as a “full-timer” just before the new semester of school begins. A large portion of Does My Head Book Big In This? deals with Amal’s decision, her feelings, and the aftermath at school and in her everyday life, which I found really fascinating. The book also looks at issues of cultural assimilation, family/cultural traditions versus religious requirements, overbearing parents, interfaith dialogue, bullying, dating (or dealing with not dating, as the case may be), and so many other things. There’s just so much in here that it’s hard to give an accurate summary without giving too much away!

I found this book absolutely enthralling from start to finish. I wanted to know that everything would work out for Amal, as well as for her friends and neighbours. There were a couple surprise twists in the book, and it really helped to flesh the characters out! In other ways, Does My Head Look Big In This? was very much a typical teen novel, but with a hijabi girl – and the religious and cultural issues that come along with that – added into the mix.

This novel had slightly more of a humorous tone than Ten Things I Hate About Me, and way more than Where the Streets Had A Name. It was also probably the most obviously Aussie of the two books set in Australia, something that was reinforced by Macauley’s accented narration. Listening to the book read in an Australian accent, including slang words and the occasional properly pronounced Arabic word, really helped me to get into the novel.

I hope you’ll give this one a try. I definitely recommend it, for both young and old!

Rating:


This book is a part of the Ramadan Reading event happening here this month.

You can find other posts in the series by clicking on the image to the right, or by taking a look at the schedule of posts and reviews.

8 Comments

  • Darlyn August 25, 2010 at 6:52 am

    Great review. I definitely thing my head look big in hijab but it can be cool when we can style it in so many way. =)

    • Carina September 1, 2010 at 4:13 am

      Awww! I actually love the way my head looks in hijab, because it makes my head seem a bit bigger and thus more proportional to my body. (Also, it hides the fact that I always wear my hair up, which my boyfriend doesn’t particularly like!) I don’t usually wear the hijab, though … just for mosque and prayers.

  • Amy August 25, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Looks interesting, and would be a great novel for teens!

  • Helen Murdoch August 25, 2010 at 10:00 am

    We have this in my school’s library so I’ll be sure to include it in the next book talks I do for English classes. Thank you for the great reveiw

    • Carina September 1, 2010 at 4:12 am

      Definitely, it was great!

  • zibilee August 25, 2010 at 11:49 am

    I think this book sounds amazing, and I also think it would be fascinating to be in the head of a character while she is trying to make the decision of whether or not to go veiled. I am glad to see that you liked this one, and will have to give it a try. Thanks for the excellent and very enthusiastic review!

    • Carina September 1, 2010 at 4:12 am

      It was so cool feeling like I was inside her head! I’m someone who doesn’t wear the scarf, so it was quite interesting to hear “first hand” the take of someone who decided to.

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