Sunday, July 21, 2013

Review: If You Could Be Mine

Title: If You Could Be Mine
Author: Sara Farizan
Genre: Contemporary

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I went a bit out of my comfort zone by reading this, and I'm very glad I did. If You Could Be Mine is a very honest portrayal of what it's like to be LGBTQ in modern day Iran. The story is told from the point of view of Sahar, a girl who is in love with her childhood friend Nasrin. When Nasrin's parents arrange her marriage, Sahar feels trapped - she knows there is no way for her to openly be with Nasrin, since it is a criminal offense. There is another way - one that will ask Sahar to sacrifice her very identity.

The reasons I picked this book up (quotes from the back cover):

"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."
- I really don't know much about Iran, so I was curious to learn more about their culture and how the often severe social rules affect different people

"Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?"
- I love stories about identity, and most of the stories I write are about shifting identities/perspectives. This question is one that I really don't have an answer to, and I was really curious as to how this situation would be resolved.

My thoughts:

This very much a story of identity, and I liked how honest the author was about different communities and how they perceive one another. In Iran, the operation for transsexuals is approved and even partially paid for by the government, since it is seen as God's mistake that you are born in the wrong body. This doesn't mean that transsexuals don't face prejudice - they very much do - but I found it interesting that these people might think themselves superior to people who are gay or lesbian, because homosexuality is considered a sin under the Quran.

I also liked how the author avoided labels. Sahar says something about not knowing if she were "gay" but knowing that she loved Nasrin more than anyone else. All the characters are portrayed in a similar way - they strive to be more than their label, and you see them as people instead of just "the lesbian one".

I had a bit of trouble with Sahar and Nasrin's relationship though. It seemed like Sahar loved Nasrin a lot more than the other way around, and Sahar was constantly making comments about how selfish and spoiled Nasrin was. Sahar was willing to live a lie and sacrifice her identity for Nasrin, but Nasrin wouldn't even make a fuss about getting married to Reza (who ironically is a doctor who helps people transition genders!). When a friend asks Sahar if Nasrin is worth it, my instincts were screaming NO! I appreciated the ending, since Sahar seemed to be getting back on her feet.

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