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Skunk Girl Hardcover – March 31, 2009

22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Sixteen-year-old Nina Khan feels like an outsider, and there are two things that she thinparticularly set her apart from others in her small town: her perfect older sister, Sonia, and the fact that she has inherited the “Pakistani hairy gene.” It’s bad enough that she has dark hair on her legs, arms, and face, but then she also grows a dark, downy stripe down her back. While this is understandably mortifying for a teenager, its importance dimishes when compared to the central issue of the book. Nina is a Muslim Pakistani-American, and her parents have very firm views on social behavior: she is not allowed to date or attend parties. She has always chafed at the restrictions, but she becomes even more resentful after she develops a mutual attraction with a handsome classmate. Nina stages a mild rebellion, which ends with deepened appreciation for her family’s cultural views. While some plot turnarounds come too easily, Karim’s first novel provides a rare exploration of Muslim culture and will be a welcome addition to teen collections. Grades 7-10. --Lynn Rutan


“Karim’s first novel provides a rare exploration of Muslim culture and will be a welcome addition to teen collections.” —Booklist

“A solid choice.” —School Library Journal

“In this debut, episodic novel, rife with smart, self-deprecating humor . . . Nina searches for identity and emerging independence while accepting the reality of her home life.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Whether they share Nina’s circumstances or not, readers will readily identify with her struggle, and they’ll find her an endearing and admirable literary companion.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

"This is one of the funniest books anyone can read."—A YALSA YA Galley Teen Reader

"The book was a quick read and taught me a lot about the Muslim culture. The author uses everyday language, so anybody can read it. There aren’t that many books out there that has such an interesting point of view (from a Muslim’s perspective)." —A YALSA YA Galley Teen Reader

"The story was really entertaining, I didn't want to put it down." —A YALSA YA Galley Teen Reader

"This was a fun read that left me . . . thinking."—Rebecca, 13

"Pleae write a sequel,"— Cecelia, age 13

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: AWARDS: Arkansas Teen Awards 2011
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1 edition (March 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374370117
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374370114
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,275,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sheba Karim writes literary and young adult fiction. She was born and raised in Catskill, NY, where she never saw Rip Van Winkle but frequently crossed the bridge that bore his name. She is a graduate of New York University School of Law and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her young adult novel, Skunk Girl, was published in the United States, Denmark, India, Italy and Sweden. Her fiction has appeared in 580 Split, Asia Literary Review, Barn Owl Review, EGO, Kartika Review, Shenandoah, South Asian Review, Time Out Delhi and in several published and forthcoming anthologies in the United States and India, including Cornered, Electric Feather and Venus Fly Trap. Two of her short stories have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She was a 2009-2010 Fulbright-Nehru Scholar in Delhi, India, where she conducted research on her current project, a a historical fiction novel set in 13th century India. She is the editor of Alchemy: The Second Tranquebar Book of Erotic Short Stories, published November 2012. FInd out more at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Garrison VINE VOICE on February 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was excited to get a copy of this book, since there just isn't much fiction out there written from the perspective of Muslim American youth. And in that sense, the book definitely fulfilled its promise -- the author develops the character of Nina in a way that really pulls us in to the struggle she feels in wanting to fit in with her friends, while also trying to please her traditional Pakistani parents who are always comparing Nina to her "perfect" older sister.

So for me, the character development was great -- and truthfully, I think the book may be worth reading just for that alone -- but I just didn't feel like there was enough depth to the actual *story* to pull me along the way many books do. For me, there really isn't any one point during the book where I have any doubt that Nina will turn out just fine, and figure out how to find some happiness for herself. Truthfully, it felt a lot like the "cultural fiction" I remember being required to read in 7th-9th grade -- heavy on character, slow on plot.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Little Willow on August 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
High school is hard enough, but add on the pressure of being the younger sister of a "Supernerd" as well as the only Asian or Muslim in her class and it's no wonder that Nina Khan feels a little out-of-sorts. Though Nina loves and appreciates her parents, she wishes they would let her have more of a social life. Though they are very kind, her parents are pretty strict when it comes to things like dating. She's now allowed to date, nor can she go to parties or school dances. When her friends are out and about on Saturday nights, Nina's expected to stay home and study.

The majority of residients in their little town of Deer Hook, New York are white. Nina and her older sister Sonia, who is now at college studying to become a doctor, are first-generation Pakistani-Americans. Her parents both came from middle-class families in Pakistan. They are intelligent, confident adults who regularly encourage their daughters to stay true to their Muslim values.

Since first grade, Nina has found solace in her two awesome best friends, Helena, a vibrant, ever-cheerful redhead, and Bridget, a tall blonde who is usually clumsy yet extremely graceful on the ski slopes. Now juniors in high school, the three girls are as close as ever. While Helena and Bridget can date whomever they like, Nina can't bring up the nerve to ask out Asher, the new boy on campus. Her tongue gets tied around him, and she knows her parents would disapprove of her dating an Italian boy.

Nina's first person narrative is insightful and allows the readers to learn of (and relate to) the fears and worries which she can't vocalize.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E.M. Bristol VINE VOICE on January 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Plot: Girl notices Hottie. Sometimes in these sorts of books, the heroine has an interest besides boys, but not really here. So you expect the book to be mostly about getting the guy. Usually, the formula for these books go: Girl notices Hottie. Girl comes up with some kind of scheme to snare the Hottie. Wacky misunderstandings result. Girl gains self-respect and winds up with a guy who is not nearly as hot, but more compatible. There are variations, but these kinds of books have been around forever. This is not that kind of book.

Nina, the heroine is likeable and sympathetic but passive. If you are expecting there to be some kind of hookup or drama, you will be waiting quite awhile. For example, there is a Queen Bee ordered straight from central casting, and she and the heroine don't get along, so you expect that there will be some kind of confrontation. Which there finally is - on page 176. Then there's the hookup which only lasts a chapter. I kept waiting for Nina to do something proactive instead of just pine after the Hottie. I waited in vain for her to sneak around behind her parents' back, or for her to confront her parents, or her older sister to drop a bombshell, like that she's a lesbian or is dating a white guy. Something, anything to put some drama in the story. By page 90 or so, I wasn't picky. To mix mediums, I wish she were more like the girl in the movie "Bend it Like Beckham," who was also a Pakistani Muslim teen (I think) and who defied her traditional family so that she could play on a women's soccer team. Books are not usually written about people who follow the rules almost all the time. If they did, there would be little drama and even less story. Teens of every ethnicity get embarrassed by their parents, feel their parents don't understand them, etc., etc. While reading about another culture is fascinating, there has to be something more to sustain the story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Al-Amri VINE VOICE on March 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Young girls often feel out of place and different and this story is about a teen who has major cultural differences with her classmates. She can't do many of the things they take for granted but doesn't want to disappoint her loving parents by rebelling. The strong family values of the Pakistani Muslim community are very clearly shown.

A Muslim teen will find this book especially interesting. But any other teen who feels different in some way might also like reading it and get some direction from it. The book is very well written for the Young Adult age range and would be a valuable addition to a school library.
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