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.
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.
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.