If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
In this stunning debut, a young Iranian American writer pulls back the curtain on one of the most hidden corners of a much-talked-about culture.
Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.
So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.
Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?
Publishes in US: August 20th 2013 by Alqonquin Young Readers
Genre: YA Contemporary
Buy it: IndieBound
Barnes & Noble
I liked the culture and the message of this one. Sahar is a teen trying to be who she is under heavy government oppression. Sahar loves Nasrin and this is not allowed, so they are best friends and keep their love under wraps until a husband is chosen for Nasrin, and Sahar realizes that she doesn't want to be separated from her. She is close with her cousin Ali, who is gay and throws wild parties, and at one she meets Parveen who had sex reassignment surgery because this is allowed. This gets Sahar thinking that this could be her ticket to being with the girl she loves, Nasrin once and for all.
Sahar is smart, protective, hard working, and caring. She takes care of her dad, and she thinks and sees the best in others. She lost her mom, and her dad goes into deep depression and I totally felt and respected how Sahar loved and wanted to care for him. It came off really sincere as well how much she loved her mom and would say she could sense her presence or what she would have thought about something. This helped to add some additional emotional depth to the story!
While I liked Nasrin because I saw her through Sahar's eyes, I still didn't completely feel their love. I think that is because it was an established relationship and maybe the spark was assumed. While I appreciate greatly that it wasn't a case of insta-love especially since it is in a culture where this isn't allowed, and Sahar is considering such life altering measure in order to make it work. I like that they had the easy camaraderie, and even though there obviously was some chemistry, I just wish I could have experiences some flashbacks, or something in order to really experience that spark and make me more emotional invested. I feel like Sahar was too hard on Nasrin to love her as much as she did.
Oh, and I know this is probably just an ARC (advanced reader copy) issue, but there was some distracting formatting issues such as double ff's being omitted, and the first sentence of every chapter had pieces missing.
It is really neat to be immersed in a culture that is not mine, and yet not making myself feel dumb because I don't get the cultural differences. They are presented by showing me the norm, and even though I know it wouldn't be part of normal thought to explain what the Iranian words are, Ms. Farizan (the author) makes it natural.
The ending... I liked it but I didn't. It was very realistic, but I wanted it to somehow be more fantasy and more of an HEA than I got. But it took guts to write it like that, and I think that it gives hope for the future.
My question to you, my lovely readers:
Do you know much about Iran culture?