Randa Abdel-Fattah's first novel, Does My Head Look Big in This?, was an instant bestseller in Australia. She is a 26-year-old lawyer, born in Australia of Palestinian and Egyptian parents. For years Randa has been active in the inter-faith community, regularly giving talks at high schools, and is one of the original members of a Melbourne-Palestinian/Jewish women's friendship group. Over the years Randa has been a member of a number of Palestinian human rights campaigns, the Australian Arabic council and various Australian Muslim women networks. She lives in Sydney with her husband and baby daughter.
Gr 7 Up-Lebanese-Australian Jamilah has two lives. At school she is blond-haired, blue-eyed (thanks to contact lenses) Jamie. At home she is Jamilah, a rebellious, but dutiful, daughter of a strict, widowed father. She keeps both her Muslim and Lebanese identities a secret at her high school because the most popular students make fun of anyone who is even vaguely "ethnic." The warm, nurturing nature of her home life (even with its limitations) is often contrasted to the cold environment in the homes of some of her friends. Not surprisingly, over the course of the book, her perspective changes. By the end, Jamilah decides to be herself in a very public and satisfying way. Fans of Abdel-Fattah's Does My Head Look Big in This? (Scholastic, 2007) will snap this title up, but the book will also appeal to teens who like stories about outsiders finding their place in the world.-Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Jamilah Towfeek hides her Lebanese-Muslim background from the other kids at her Australian school "to avoid people assuming I fly planes into buildings as a hobby." She dyes her hair blonde, wears blue contacts and stands by when popular kids make racist remarks. Passing as "Jamie" is fraught with difficulties: she can't invite friends to her house, lies to cover up her widower dad's strict rules and reveals her true self only to an anonymous boy she meets online (her e-mail address is "Ten_Things_I_Hate_About_Me"). Tensions at home and school culminate when the band she plays in at her madrassa (Islamic school) is hired to perform at her 10th-grade formal. Abdel-Fattah (Does My Head Look Big in This?) follows a predictable pattern and uses familiar devices, such as the understanding teacher ("If [your friends] don't know the real you, then you've already lost them"). On the other hand, the author brings a welcome sense of humor to Jamilah's insights about her culture, and she is equally adept at more delicate scenes, for example, Jamilah's father recounting memories of Jamilah's mother. For all the defining details, Jamilah is a character teens will readily relate to. Ages 12-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.