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outofbluebooks

Out of the Blue

Italian book blogger. Loves Jane Austen, ice cream, and the colour blue.
Does My Head Look Big In This? - Randa Abdel-Fattah It hit me as I was power walking on the treadmill at home, watching a Friends rerun for about the ninetieth time.

It's that scene where Jennifer Aniston is dressed in a hideous bridesmaid's outfit at her ex's wedding. Everyone's making fun of her and she wants to run away and hide. Then she suddenly gets the guts to jump onstage and sing some song called "Copacabana", whatever that means. I'm telling you, this rush of absolute power and conviction surged through me.

I picked up the Italian translation of Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah (entitled, not very originally, Sono Musulmana, I am a Muslim) from the kids' section of the local library. It sounded like a fun book from the title, and yes, it was.

Amal is an Australian 11th grader who decides, in her words, "to go full-time", that is to wear the hijab, or headscarf, all the time. She knows this will cause problems for her, especially at the exclusive private school she'attending, where she is one of the few Muslims. But Amal decides to go through with her decision; it's entirely a matter between herself and her religious convictions, and no, her parents didn't force her.

Amal has to learn how to deal with prejudice and racism aimed at Muslim from other people who autonatically identify the hijab, or more in general the Islamic religion, with terrorism and suicide bombers. During her school year, she will also learn that wearing the hijab is not the only way to show her faith: it's the way of life, rather than exterior signs, that demonstrate one's attitude towards religion. "Putting on the hijab isn't the end of the journey. It's just the beginning of it."

I liked this book very much. We're presented with a religious girl who goes through with her choices and doesn't back up in the face of prejudice and racism. While wearing the hijab, Amal remains a totally normal girl: she's loud and outspoke, sometimes arrogant and impetuous, and often makes errors of judgement. The book has a way of showing, in a funny and light way, why many women decide of their own accord to wear the hijab.