Head Over Heart by Colette Victor
|Head Over Heart by Colette Victor|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: It's brilliant to see a 'slice of life' contemporary about a Muslim teen. This didn't quite work for me, but worth a look.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 240||Date: July 2014|
|Publisher: Chicken House|
Like many other British thirteen-year-olds, Zeyneb is struggling with her feelings as she grows up, and with juggling her friends and family. However, she has an extra dilemma - she's a Muslim girl who's attracted to a non-Muslim boy whom her family would never approve of. Additionally, she needs to decide whether to wear a headscarf or not. What should she do?
I think this is probably one where I need to mention context first. I’m a non-Muslim reader with less knowledge than I'd like to have of other cultures, so I picked this up as part of my continuing attempt to read more diverse books. I found it a pleasant enough read but thought it was frustrating in parts – mainly, because the decision whether or not to wear the headscarf seemed to be so low-key. The blurb seemed to suggest that this would be a major part of the novel and I expected it to be a hard choice for Zeyneb to make because even with my limited familiarity with Islam I know that it's a topic for much heated discussion. It didn't feel presented as a big enough decision here – she goes back and forth over it for a while but the eventual end to this storyline seemed a bit anti-climactic considering I'd expected it to be a major part of the book.
That said, it's certainly not without its strong points. It's really good to see a Muslim teen as a main character and it will be clear to readers who may also be unfamiliar with people from Zeyneb's religion that she's the same as them in most ways – developing a crush on a boy, dealing with problems with her family and friends, and trying to do well at school.
Overall, this didn't quite work for me, but I think it's one that I'd encourage readers to try for themselves, especially if they want to read more diverse books.
I think fans of this would certainly enjoy similar contemporary coming of age stories by authors like Cathy Cassidy. Angel Cake, about a Polish girl coming to Britain, is another good read for fans of diverse characters.
You can read more book reviews or buy Head Over Heart by Colette Victor at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Head Over Heart by Colette Victor at Amazon.com.
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