A NovelBook - 2009
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Nina Khan wants to experience life. Her parents want to protect her from the evils of the world. Nina lives in Deer Hook, New York, a small town outside of Albany. Her dad is a doctor and her mom runs his office. Nina is a junior in high school. She is also living in the shadow of her older sister, Sonia, who excelled in high school and now is attending Harvard. Oh, did I mention that Nina is Pakistani and Muslim? Skunk Girl, written by Sheba Karim, tells the story of Nina’s struggles to fit in socially and still respect her parents’ wishes and her Muslim beliefs.
I really don’t know very much about Muslim beliefs and this book helped me to understand them better. They don’t believe in drinking alcohol and dating is not something young people do. Marriages are usually arranged by the parents and young girls and young boys don’t spend time together. Nina’s mother told her “Nina, remember that you should never be alone with a boy, ever. Because when a boy and a girl are alone together, there is always a third person with them.” That person is Shaitaan or the devil. Nina’s parents don’t let her attend parties and she spends her Friday evenings at home while all her friends are out at parties and having fun. Nina watched the evening news as the police were taking away a serial killer in handcuffs. The reporter stated that the killer was a quiet guy who was a loner and never attended social events. Nina thinks the only people who stay home on Friday nights are serial killers and Muslim girls.
So why Skunk Girl? Nina finds herself one day hairy. She has hairy arms, hairy legs, and hair on her upper lip. It isn’t the peach fuzz type but rather dark black hair. Her mother tells her to bleach it. When Asher, an Italian transfer student, moves to town she falls head over heals for him. But what can she do? Her parents would never let her date a boy! One day while she is sitting on the school bus next to Asher she leans over to look out the window and he notices that she has a steak of hair running down her back. She is mortified! How can she ever face him again?
Will Nina follow her parents’ wishes and not see Asher or will she go behind their backs and have clandestine encounters with him? Skunk Girl was a fast read that tells of accepting one’s own beliefs and one’s own physical nature and being happy in the process.
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