Review: Does My Head Look Big in This? – Randa Abdel-Fattah

Book cover: Amal adjusts her fuchsia-coloured hijab and white underscarf. Two girls, one with black hair and one with blonde hair, are sitting on the stairs behind Amal and appear to be talking to each other.

I decided to read Does My Head Look Big in This? as the blurb promised a coming-of-age story. I also chose it as it was suitable for #DiversityBingo2017. It’s #ownvoices for Muslim and Palestinian Australian representation.

The good

First things first: wow, can she write! Randa Abdel-Fattah took a topic that is discussed in such detail so often (nowadays and at that time) and was able to make me feel like I wasn’t being lectured. It was a very light and humorous read. I was giggling quite a lot.

Instead of describing just one story of Muslim people in Australia, there were four main Muslim families that were introduced in the book. Each had a different narrative and it allowed for good representation.

The book has a host of well-developed diverse characters. The interactions between the characters were not stereotypical. Most of the minor characters did not exist just to interact with Amal but had character arcs.

There’s an amazing part of the story in which one of the people ask Amal how she will know that she is with the right guy, if she doesn’t try others out first. It’s lovely that this question was tackled in the book and it is well-explained. I also like the part where she discusses looking down on people because of their educational level and how her privilege plays a role in that.

The bad

I didn’t care for Adam at all. He said sexist things and he didn’t respect Amal’s wishes. I don’t understand why the author decided that Amal would remain friends with him after the things he said and did. In the story, Amal even makes excuses for his behaviour.

There was a cis-normative description, which I personally find very annoying. I also didn’t enjoy the descriptions about one person’s almost-monobrow, about plucking eyebrows and the off-hand comment about armpits. I don’t understand why body hair has to be used as an indicator for ugliness or weirdness.

All in all

This book doesn’t make the mistake of just dealing with one aspect of Amal’s identity. It describes how she is privileged and how she is not. It’s an excellent read. This book is available in German under the title: Und meine Welt steht kopf.

4 out of 5 stars; What I liked: variety of different Muslim narratives, diverse characters, minor characters had proper storylines; What I disliked: negative descriptions about eyebrows and armpit hair

9 thoughts on “Review: Does My Head Look Big in This? – Randa Abdel-Fattah

  1. I’ve seen this title among various diverse-book listicles, and its been on my Tbr for some time now. (i havent been able to purchase it yet 😦 ) I’m glad your reception of it was positive. its important to have literature that gives a normalized view of muslims out there.


  2. I’m reading this one right now! I started it on my train commute yesterday, so I’m only about 10% done with it. I’m enjoying it so far. It isn’t often I get to read a book with a character who shares my first name.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s