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Does My Head Look Big In This? Paperback – August 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks; Reprint edition (August 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 043992233X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439922333
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up—Australian 11th-grader Amal is smart, funny, outspoken, a good student, and a loyal friend. She is also a devout Muslim who decides to wear the hijab, or head covering, full-time. The story tells of her emotional and spiritual journey as she copes with a mad crush on a boy, befriends an elderly Greek neighbor, and tries to help a friend who aspires to be a lawyer but whose well-intentioned mother is trying to force her to leave school and get married. Amal is also battling the misconceptions of non-Muslims about her religion and culture. While the novel deals with a number of serious issues, it is extremely funny and entertaining, and never preachy or forced. The details of Amal's family and social life are spot-on, and the book is wonderful at showing the diversity within Muslim communities and in explaining why so many women choose to wear the hijab. Amal is an appealing and believable character. She trades verbal jibes with another girl, she is impetuous and even arrogant at times, and she makes some serious errors of judgment. And by the end of the story, she and readers come to realize that "Putting on the hijab isn't the end of the journey. It's just the beginning of it."—Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Like the author of this breakthrough debut novel, Amal is an Australian-born, Muslim Palestinian "whacked with some seriously confusing identity hyphens." At 16, she loves shopping, watches Sex and the City, and IMs her friends about her crush on a classmate. She also wants to wear the hijab, to be strong enough to show a badge of her deeply held faith, even if she confronts insults from some at her snotty prep school, and she is refused a part-time job in the food court (she is "not hygienic"). Her open-minded observant physician parents support her and so do her friends, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, secular. Her favorite teacher finds her a private space to pray. The first-person present-tense narrative is hilarious about the diversity, and sometimes heartbreaking. For her uncle who wants to assimilate, "foreign" is the f-word, and his overdone Aussie slang and flag-waving is a total embarrassment. On the other hand, her friend Leila nearly breaks down when her ignorant Turkish mom wants only to marry her daughter off ("Why study?") and does not know that it is Leila's Islamic duty "to seek knowledge, to gain an education." Without heavy preaching, the issues of faith and culture are part of the story, from fasting at Ramadan to refusing sex before marriage. More than the usual story of the immigrant teen's conflict with her traditional parents, the funny, touching contemporary narrative will grab teens everywhere. Rochman, Hazel --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

One of the best multicultural teen books I have ever read.
Momma of 7
What I did like was how the book shows how vividly scared Amal is to wear the hijab because of how it changes the way people look at her.
Amazon Customer
I would certainly recommend this book be read by adults and teens everywhere.
SZAA

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Clear Evidence on August 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Putting on hijab isn't the end of the journey. It's just the beginning of it," Amal, the narrator, says in the book. This brief statement summarizes the powerful lesson of this compelling, funny novel.

The novel begins as Amal is watching a Friends rerun and is inspired to wear hijab (the Muslim head scarf) when she sees Jennifer Aniston's carefree character get up and dance in a "hideous bridesmaid outfit" at her ex-boyfriend's wedding. This comical, worldy inspiration sets the stage for Amal's third term rollercoaster ride as an eleventh grader in a private, prestigious "institution" (as the principal Ms. Walsh like to call it).

Having gone to Muslim school up until the year before, Amal's decision to cover in hijab will prove a huge test of faith for her, especially since she spent first and second term at the school appearing normal...except for her long name: "Amal Mohamed Nasrullah Abdel-Hakim". (She says, "You can thank my father, paternal grandfather, and paternal great-grandfather for that one. The teachers labeled me slow in preschool because I was the last child to learn how to spell her name).

As I read, I laughed out loud and shook my head in recognition of how it feels to grow up Muslim in the West, especially as a teenager in school. The book is authentic in its representation of that experience, the ups and downs, the stereotypes, the harassment, and (ah!) the "good souls" that make you smile because they prove that there really are people (however rare they are) who are actually guided by good human sense when dealing with Muslim citizens, instead of CNN headlines on "Islamic" terrorists and the like.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By R. Swaney on May 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Randa Abdel-Fattah is an Australian and Muslim writer and her book Does My Head Look Big In This? is the story of a teenage girl Amal who chooses to wear the hijab. The book deals quite well with three larger social themes, one specifically is about choice in religion and one example of what it's like for a Muslim girl in a westernized society. The other larger social theme, which was quite well done regards identity, how we see ourselves, with a specific nod to dislodging the beauty myth. And finally, a critique of the sexual pressures placed on young girls to have sex.

At the same time, I did struggle with some ideas in the book. Early on, Abdel-Fattah knocks at feminism, which is rather well deserved in the sense of "hard-core feminists" (her words, not mine) making an issue out of wearing the hajib when choice is involved. Point taken, but this isn't so much a feminist stance as much as western perceptions and xenophobia pertaining specifically to women of eastern cultures or cultural descent. Additionally, she also ensures a knock at atheism. This sort of misrepresentation (or misinterpretation) carries through the book in not identifying social issues as the problem. After all, in a book that deals with the problematic scenarios of misrepresenting and misinterpreting Islam - well, pot kettle black.

Likewise, every page was detailed by a mass consumer mindset of shopping and buying and consuming. I did start to find this problematic and particularly as the book completely fails to escape the female young adult novel entrenched idea of female competition. Because, you know, a young adult novel can't exist without two girls verbally (if not physically) abusing each other.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on May 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Let me start out by saying that DOES MY HEAD LOOK BIG IN THIS? is a book that needed to be written, and one that needs to be read. It definitely fills a gap in young adult literature: it's a story about a normal Muslim girl in a non-Muslim country (Australia) who is not escaping oppression by a fundamentalist government/family or anything like that. Amal is just a normal teenage girl, albeit a Muslim one. She has crushes on boys, she likes to go shopping, she giggles with her friends, and she sometimes argues with her parents or feuds with classmates.

However, Amal's life is changed drastically when she makes a major decision: to wear the hijab, the head scarf worn by Muslim women. This would not be nearly such a big deal were she still at school with all of her friends who are also Muslim and some of whom wear the hijab full-time (meaning: whenever she is around men who are not relatives) as well. However, Amal has recently transferred to a very white-bread prep school, where the environment is completely different.

Amal is subjected to racism and discrimination by kids whose experience with Muslims has largely been confined to what they see in the media. The reactions she faces at home are not all positive, either, but Amal has made a choice. To her, it is a personal, religious decision, to show her devotion to God; it's not about being oppressed as some of her classmates seem to think, or making any sort of statement. Being a Muslim is a part of who Amal is, but in showing that, she faces things a lot worse than any evangelical Christian I know, and that's a sad commentary on our society.

All of that aside, Randa Abdel-Fattah's book is very well-written, and I loved Amal's voice. The characters in this book (particularly Amal) were great.
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