Young Adult Lit/Crit

February 4, 2008


Filed under: DOES MY HEAD LOOK BIG IN THIS? — Mandy @ 4:36 am

Today I finished Does My Head Look Big In This? and I think this book is a great read for adolescents. First, there is an admirable and courageous female protagonists who is funny, inspiring and constantly drawing deep and profound observations about herself and the world around her. Secondly, this story is not a fairy tale high school romance, which I think many of us can appreciate, as this is definitely a reoccurring theme in young adult lit. Further, this is the first book I have read about an adolescent and her faith. There seem to be a lack of stories that focus on teens and religion, which is unfortunate, as I think religion is universally important topic. At the same time, many other contemporary issues are also raised in the text, including arranged marriages, cultural conflicts, stereotypes, sexism and teenage rebellion, and all of this is done through an eleventh grade Muslim teenager’s perspective. This book could definitely fit into our classrooms, and we could use multiple theories with it, including but not limited to feminist, Marxist and cultural theory.

Also, there are several memorable quotes in the text that I have marked, but one of my favorites is when Amal says “…in the land of high school, sexual rejection is catastrophic” (254). Another quote that I think is great is “Sometimes it’s easy to lose faith in people. And sometimes one act of kindness is all it takes to give you hope again” (161). These among others are very insightful thoughts, and it would be interesting to discuss these with teens. In the meantime, I look forward to discussing this title with my peers in our literature circle this week!




  1. Hi Mandy,
    I haven’t read DMHLBIT, but Coe Booth directly addresses the issue of sexuality in Tyrell. The 1st person point of view shows us how Tyrell contemplates sexual encouters, and though he’s honest about his desires and thoughtful with his actions, it comes across (to me) almost as an aside. The sexual issues are the most daring and interesting parts of the book, but it would seem that Tyrell is predominately concerned with raising money to improve his family’s situation. Tyrell’s voice (in ebonics?) rings true. Booth’s mini biography indicates some social work she’s done, which might contribute to the book’s authenticity. I’m only 160 pages in but I think Booth has laid the groundwork for some powerful turns. Again, with the language and subject matter I wouldn’t consider this book a practical choice for the classroom. Feathers is also interesting but it seems to pale in comparison to Tyrell. Feathers gets into some of the religious material you mentioned in your post. We’ll see how it goes. FIRST BLOG EVER!

    Comment by jwill7 — February 4, 2008 @ 9:45 pm

  2. As I told a few of you last week my mom works at the LaFayette Public Library and she is starting a book club with a group of 6th graders. The first book they read will be DMHLBIT. I’ll let you all know how it goes.

    I’ve been loving this book, and I think it’s perfect for YAs- girls and boys!

    I’ll write my comments on it later, but for now I thought I would share some thoughts for nonfiction to pair with it.
    (recommended on the website Mandy shared with us, Bookslut)
    (This one looks really good)
    (could have some good excerpts)
    (probably a good idea to include some reading on eating disorders)
    (I recently read this article in the Times. Very interesting. It’s about people who are sick of the anti-obesity campaigns.)

    Comment by allison — February 5, 2008 @ 1:27 am

  3. Hey all, I am just wrapping up DOES MY HEAD and I am already singing its praises to anyone who will possibly listen! The ladies at work are actually really interested in what I am reading (several of them have middle-school-aged children) for this course and I have put this out there as a must read. One of the important side stories that I am noticing as the story progresses, is that of Leila and her family’s struggles with raising a young woman in modern Australian culture. Amal is a great role model for teens struggling with their religious identity (or their identity period)because she is assimilated into the culture to a certain extent that remains comfortable for her.

    Mandy, I also noticed those passages from the novel, but another thing that really stood out for me was the word “Repressed” and how much Adam used it to almost try and convince Amal to change her mind in the rejection scene. Teen society can be awfully persuasive, but Amal has so far stood her ground.

    I will have more comments as I wrap up the novel- it is so good I am having a hard time focusing on the rest of my work so I will have to complete it tonight!

    Allison, thank you for those websites I will look those over before our Lit circle!


    Comment by kariredmond — February 5, 2008 @ 4:03 am

  4. I’ve thought of a few more points for us to discuss on Thursday night. As I read this book, I was mostly caught up in the Amal-Adam love story and the drama caused by Amal wearing the hajiab, but as I read more, I got caught up in some of the complex issues.

    Seeing Amal associated with extremeist because of her religion was especially powerful in her conversation with Lara, p. 256-257. I remember this happening to muslims in the United States post- 911. Of course, Lara doesnt realize what she is doing, until Amal suggests that Lara be associated with the Ku Klux Klan because she’s Christian.

    I’m interested in investigating the situation at Leila’s house. Do these types of families really exist? Are teenage girls in developed countries actually being married-off while they are teenagers?

    I never before thought about the fact that a muslim woman must time choosing a beautiful hajiab to match a carefully selected outfit. I know this is a little ignorant, but I kind of associated the hajiab with the uniforms that I used to wear to school- not much choice involved. Reading about Amal carefully selecting her hajiab, and a headband to accompany it, really struck me. I think any teenager can relate to her. p. 288 was especially powerful, but its a recurrent incident thoughout the novel.

    These are just a few thoughts. I’m so glad I read this book. I’ve never known anyone who wears a hajiab, but now I feel like I do.

    Comment by allison — February 5, 2008 @ 5:23 pm

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