Thursday, September 26, 2013

"If You Could Be Mine" by Sara Farizan

Release Date: August 20, 2013
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Pages: 256

From Goodreads: "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?"

Admittedly when I first received this book to read and review, I was a fair bit skeptical as it is so far out of my comfort zone (that being primarily YA speculative fiction), however, the longer that the premise of the book bounced around in my head, the more and more excited that I got to read it- it being quite unlike anything that I had ever heard of before, sounding like something that could truly change YA as we know it. However, as I began to delve deeper and deeper into the novel I soon realized that, while it had potential, it ultimately did not live up to said potential.

My largest complaints about this book were it's writing style, the lack of emotions, and it's characters. I found Sara's style of writing to be so flat that it bordered on being juvenile- at times it read as if it had been written by a young person trying their hand at writing (for instance, "I did this and this and this"). Because of the flatness of the writing, I was unable to make any sort of connection to the storyline- not once did I experience any heart pounding moments or gasped aloud, which wouldn't seem unlikely for a book with as heavy of a storyline as this. Furthermore, because of the lack of emotions, I was unable to make any sort of connection with the characters- I would, in fact, go so far as to say that they are some of the most unlikeable that I can recall reading about in some time. There was truly only one or two characters that I liked, however, their actions towards the end of the novel made me reconsider my original opinions of them.

That being said, I do appreciate what Sara tried to do with this book, because, as mentioned, this, in my opinion, is quite unlike anything else I have seen in YA to this point in time. She touched upon so many important lifestyles, situations, and circumstances that I think that the average reader would never experience, let alone consider.

All in all, unfortunately due to the book's simplistic and emotionless writing style and the unmemorable (or memorable for the wrong reasons) characters, I was simply not a fan of this novel. However, I do think that with a bit more time and practice, Sara has the potential to be an instrumental author in YA, especially if she broaches upon similar topics in the future.

Rating: 2/5

I received this book from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was not compensated in any way for said review.


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