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Shall I wear the hijab to school?

Does My Head Look Big In This? - Randa Abdel-Fattah

This book started out rather slowly, with Amal writing lists of why she should, or should not, commit to wearing the hijab to school. Her endless agonising about it was starting to get on my nerves. However, once she decided to go ahead with it and came face to face with all the issues it raised, the book improved and I was supporting her all the way.

Amal comes from a Palestinian-American-Muslim family. Her faith decrees that she should cover her head, but her parents realise the problems that this will entail and do not force her to make this decision. When she does decide to cover up, it is entirely her own choice, which motivates her conviction that it is the right thing. It is not easy though; facing teachers, students and the public from behind a head-covering, is a brave undertaking. She finds herself lumped in with terrorists in some folks' eyes and must deal with bigotry and suspicion.

In some ways Amal is a very strong, opinionated girl. She speaks her mind when she is picked on, and even against a friend's parents, when she sees injustice. And although her actions are obviously meant to encourage other like-minded students, who read this book, to have the faith and conviction to do the same, they would need to be pretty self confident to pull it off without going under.

In many ways it wasn't so much how Amal dressed that struck me, the issue that remains with me is the problem of partying and dating. Because she believed in marrying 'the one' and not trying out the goods in advance, she was far more 'strange' for not kissing than for wearing a head-dress. To me, this seemed the greatest stumbling block in a Western society.

An interesting view on life as a teen for a Muslim girl. Not riveting, but it did highlight some pitfalls and may help other girls considering the same move.