Review by Sehrish Hussain
Farhana stood in front of het full-length mirror and scrutinised her reflection. Her hair was loos, ready to be restrained in a regulation ponytail for school.
But for now, it hun gabout her shoulders and down her back, straight, but not dead straight enough to be the height of fashion. Nothing a pair of ceramic straighteners wouldn’t fix, though. All the hot Asian girls wore their hair dead straight nowadays- curls were so out. She peered at her skin, smooth, the colour of latte, with a hint of mocha. With her green eyes framed by long, dark eyelashes and full lips, guys often compared her to Aishwarya Rai, the famous Bollywood actress. As if. Guys will say anything to get what they want. Her school uniform sat loosely on her tall frame and skimmed her curves, just the way her mum liked it. No jumper bought two sizes too small for her, no skirts hitched up above the knee. Her version of the school uniform was just modest enough- what a decent Paistani girl should look lik, as Ammiji would say. But as she adjusted her waistband her eyes flickered upwards, towards the white piece of mirror. In the back of her mind, she could hear her Auntie. ‘The hijab is a protection, not an oppression. Your body, the beauty not to bes een by yust anyone. You’re worth so much more than that.’ Farhana swallowed hard and reached for the hijab. She imagined herself folding in into a neat triangle, the edges precisely matched, lifting it under her chin, taking a pin and pinning it closed, drawing the two ends over her shoulders Farhana in hijab. Did she dare?”, a part of the book Boy vs Girl.
This book tells the story of the sixteen years old twins Farhana & Faraz. Farhana is struggling to wear the hijab but something bothers her somewhere. She was always in to fashion. She wants to be the good girl. Farhana & Faraz are struggling with their identities: the British and the Pakistani identity. While Farhana the sweet and smart girl never gets trouble at school her brother is always is to fights and troubles. He ends up in a gang with drugs. One day she descides to wear the hijab. Her mother didn’t like her idea.
You are so vain, Farhana, she told herself, and felt a stab of guilt. This was not a beauty accessory, like one of her many diffrent hats or her fuchsia pashmina. This was worship. And that was just what she tried to tell Ammiji when she has come down to breakfast in her scarf. Dad and Fraz were still upstairs getting dressed. As soon as Ammiji had caught sight of her, she had taken a deap breath: “Farhana”, she had said, “why are you dressed like that?”Farhana was so taken back by the irony of her mother’s question that she almost laughed.
“Like what, Ammiji?”She had asked, trying to sound normal, but hating the look of fear and incomprehension in her mother’s eyes.
“Like that!”Ammiji raised her voice. “That is not a part of your school uniform, is it? What are you trying to do? Cause a problem for your father and me with the school? Show everyone how religious you are?”
Her mother is very upsed that Farhana is wearing the veil. The problems are getting bigger. Farhana’s aunt loves a white man and wants to marry him. Her grandmother is not a great fond of her choice. Farhana & her brother are not very close to each other, although Farhana loves her brother very much.
I love te cover of the book, it was greenish, the color of Pakistani flag. The title in green and white. And the subtitle: Can a sister save her brother, or will he draw them both into danger? A very strong question. This is a very cultural book. I think many muslim girls will recognize themself with the issues that Farhana is dealing with, identity problems and problems with the hijab. I loved this book with 19 chapters very much. From page 1, I was very addicted to this book. This is one of the few books that has been very interesting and exciting from page 1. I have never read Na’ima’s book before, but I am very curious to read her next book. Boy vs Girl is a very different book on a positive way. The themes of the book are very divers: from traditions to respect. While you are reading the book you’ll see a generation gap between the first generation(parents) and the next generation(children). The view of life is very differen. While the parents think they ar Pakistani, the children think they are British. 260 pages reading fun!!!! A book that I would recommend everyone. This book deserves 5 Virtual Beauty stars!
Buy this book at Frances Lincoln
Na’ima b. Robert(1977), is a author and the founder of Sisterz Magazine. Her first book The Swirling Hijaab was released in 2002. Journey Through Islamic Art was released in 2005. She wrote 15 books. In 1998 she converted to Islam. Robert is married and has three sons and two daughters.