If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
Algonquin Young Readers, August 2013
256 pages, 3 stars
ABOUT THE BOOK: Sahar has been in love with her best friend Nasrin since they were very young. Despite stealing kisses behind closed doors and dreaming about their future together, they can never be openly in a relationship in that country. When Sahar discovers that Nasrin’s family has arranged a marriage for Nasrin and a handsome man, Sahar is heart-broken and hell bent on preventing their marriage. Though homosexuality is a crime, being transgender is thought of as a mistake that should be fixed. Iran will actually pay for people to get sexual reassignment surgery. Sahar sees this as her only chance at a happy life with Nasrin. Can she go through with it? Will Nasrin still love her if Sahar has a man’s body?
This is a YA novel that reveals the inner workings of a society that we (in the US) know little about. We hear all about Iran on the news, but before reading this book I had no idea that being transgender was OK in the government’s eyes—but still frowned upon socially. This was a very enlightening look at gay culture and transgender culture in Iran.
I also enjoyed Sahar as a character and devoured her story with significant greed. I felt her pain and sympathized with her, but I wanted her to forget about Nasrin and get into University. She seemed like she had so much potential throughout the book. But then Sahargoes to all of these great lengths to try to stay with Nasrin, when Nasrin has just given up on the whole thing. Nasrin is the shallowest most unsympathetic character and I didn’t understand why Sahar loved her and (SPOILER!!!!!) at the end when she was like we have to live different lives but we’ll always love each other. I wanted to be like WHY? I can’t think of a single reason for loving her except that she’s pretty and lets Sahar kiss her.
I really enjoyed reading this book, but my main complaint is that I didn’t feel like Sahar changed. She had a couple of moments of clarity when she saw Nasrin for what she was, but that never changed her opinion of Nasrin. In the end, Sahar didn’t even accept the fact that she and Nasrin can never be together. I wish there had been more growth on Sahar’s part and/or that Nasrin had been more worthy of her love.
ABOUT THE OUTFIT: My dear little bird, you’re obsessed with your lover. You’ll be whatever she wants and do whatever she wants. This shirt expresses that sentiment to the tee! Not only is the crop tank top indecent and against the law but so is your love affair. So cover it up with this moon sweater. By the light of the moon you travel through the city going to parties and meeting other gay and transgender people. Unfortunately, this life you lead must be shrouded in darkness, because if your family found out, you would be cast away.
Slip into these faded jeans, they are your only comfort in a time when your world seems to be crumbling around you. These bright pink flats are perfect for classes, family gatherings, and parties of all kinds—including Nasrin’s engagement party. This wallet is the color of Nasrin’s skin (that’s not creepy) and reminds you of the soft touch of her hand and the soft brush of her lips against yours.
Wrap your hair in this bright scarf, because you can’t go outside without covering every inch of your body. The only part of you that others can see is your face, so line your eyes with kohl and cake on the mascara. Finally, these female symbol earrings dangle from your ears. You and Nasrin go together like this pair of earrings, until one of you gets lost.