A humble little blog about books, information, and other things that are good to know.

Posts tagged ‘identity’

CanLit Doesn’t Suck

Movie poster for Barney's Version.

Image via Online Movies Hut.

I’m really lucky somebody decided to make a film adaptation of Barney’s Version by Mordecai Richler. Otherwise I might never have gotten around to cracking the cover of my husband’s copy, and I’d never have known what I know now.

Mordecai Richler is wonderful.

I’m about two-thirds of the way through Barney’s Version and I’m having a blast. It’s funny. The characters are vivid and believable. The wit is perceptive. That wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Somewhere in my past, I learned to expect CanLit – that’s Canadian Literature – to be pretentious and self-important and not much fun. And that’s a tragedy of missed reading opportunities.

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Does My Head Look Big In This?

Does My Head Look Big In This?

Image via Journey Online.

Title: Does My Head Look Big In This?

Author: Randa Abdel-Fattah

Year of Publication: 2005

Genre Keywords: coming of age, culture, family, friendship, high school, identity, Islam, multiculturalism, popularity, religion, teen, women’s issues, young adult.

Summary: Amal is an Australian teen like any other . . . except that she’s a Muslim of Palestinian extraction who’s decided she’s ready to wear the hijab full-time. She knows it won’t be easy, attending a posh private school away from her Muslim friends while sporting such a hotly-contested marker of her Muslim identity, but she feels passionately about it. Now she’s dealing with all the usual trials and tribulations of high school – crushes, mean girls, friends with body-image issues, and more – but also with the judgments of teachers, friends, and strangers trying to identify what the hijab says about her life and placing her in the role of a full-time apologist for Islam, even in its most twisted and horrifying iterations.

Who’ll Love It: If you’re open to walking a mile in the shoes of a young Muslim woman, this book is a great way to do it. The central character is one of those rare gems – strong and smart and (mostly) confident, yet still believable. Readers who like a good relationship story that centers around friendships and family relationships (as opposed to romantic ones) will find an added bonus in the wide range of people supporting Amal as she tells her story.

Food For Thought: Does My Head Look Big In This? investigates some of the key assumptions many Westerners make when confronted with a Muslim, particularly a Muslim woman. For instance, when you see a woman in the hijab (or niqab, burqa, or what-have-you), do you assume she’s been forced to wear it by some man in her life? Do you stop to wonder how your assumption affects her or makes her feel? It’s worth spending some time with the idea.

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