Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Travel the World: Australia: Ten Things I Hate About Me
Abdel-Fattah, Randa. 2009. (Pub Jan) TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT ME. Scholastic. 297.
Randa Abdel-Fattah's previous novel, Does My Head Look Big In This?, was one that I was ambivalent about. I found the perspective interesting--a Muslim teen girl who feels caught between cultures: wanting to be true to her faith and family but also wanting to fit in with the popular, beautiful people.
Ten Things I Hate About You is similar in theme. We've got a narrator caught between two identies: Jamie and Jamilah. At home, she's proud to be Lebanese and Muslim. At school, she wants to blend in with everyone else. (She wears colored contacts and dyes her hair blond.) She doesn't want to be seen as ethnic. She doesn't want to be seen with the nerds either. Which is why she goes along with the 'in' crowd even when it makes her cringe. She's so caught up in being on the fringest of the fringes of the 'cool' people, that she doesn't ever risk being herself, having a voice, taking a stand. She's so completely different from Timothy--a nerd who shows no reaction to the endless teasing he receives. He's himself no matter what, come what may.
But being two different people is time consuming and exhausting. Which is why it is so refreshing when she begins to consider--for the first time ever--being herself. What brings about this change? A group of email exchanges with a stranger. A boy--her own age it seems--who has chosen to write because he likes her identity "Ten_Things_I_Hate_About_Me@intermail.com." His "Rage_Against_The_Machine@intermail.com" responses were my absolute favorite bits of the novel.
So the novel is broken into three sections in a way. Her school identity, Jamie; her home identity, Jamilah; and her online identity. I found the school sections hard to stomach because I think they reveal her uncomfortableness and awkwardness all too well. "I wish I could talk in capital letters at school. Use exclamation makrs and highlighter pens on all my sentences. Stand out bold, italicized, and underlined. At the moment I'm a rarely used font in microscopic size with no shading or emphasis." (88)
I liked this novel. I did. I found it interesting and entertaining.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews