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Does My Head Look Big in This?
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Does My Head Look Big in This?

4.5 31
by Randa Abdel-Fattah

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Sixteen-year-old Amal makes the decision to start wearing the hijab, the Muslim head scarf, full- time and everyone has a reaction. Her parents, her teachers, her friends, people on the street. But she stands by her decision to embrace her faith and all that it is, even if it does make her a little different from everyone else. Can she handle the taunts of "nappy


Sixteen-year-old Amal makes the decision to start wearing the hijab, the Muslim head scarf, full- time and everyone has a reaction. Her parents, her teachers, her friends, people on the street. But she stands by her decision to embrace her faith and all that it is, even if it does make her a little different from everyone else. Can she handle the taunts of "nappy head," the prejudice of her classmates, and still attract the cutest boy in school? Brilliantly funny and poignant, Randa Abdel-Fattah's debut novel will strike a chord in all teenage readers, no matter what their beliefs.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

With an engaging narrator at the helm, Abdel-Fattah's debut novel should open the eyes of many a reader. Headstrong and witty, 16-year-old Amal, an Australian-Muslim-Palestinian ("That means I was born an Aussie and whacked with some seriously confusing identity hyphens") decides during winter break from her posh private school that she's ready to wear the hijab, the Muslim head scarf, fulltime, as a testament to her faith. Amal knows she will face discrimination by classmates and misinformed people but she is committed to her decision; her parents are initially concerned, but ultimately rally behind her. Their worries, in fact, are well-founded: Amal attracts her share of stares and taunts both at school and around town, but she finds strength, not only from her convictions, but from her close-knit group of friends, who for various reasons-being Japanese, Jewish, nerdy or body-conscious-are perceived as being outside "the norm." As Amal struggles with her identity in a post-9/11 world ("Do you have any idea how it feels to be me, a Muslim, today? I mean, just turn on the television, open a newspaper.... It feels like I'm drowning in it all"), her faith-and an array of ever-ready quips-help her navigate an often-unforgiving world. Using a winning mix of humor and sensitivity, Abdel-Fattah ably demonstrates that her heroine is, at heart, a teen like any other. This debut should speak to anyone who has felt like an outsider for any reason. Ages 12-up. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Carlisle K. Webber
The sight of Jennifer Aniston in a bridesmaid's dress creates an urge to change the channel for most viewers, but for witty, academically talented Amal Abdel-Hakim, it inspires the confidence to wear the hijab full time. As a Pakistani Australian Muslim, she has been teased about her religion, but in her decision to wear the hijab, she also has the support of loyal friends and her loving parents. Armed with fashion sense as well as faith, Amal sets out to match her hijab to her school clothes and modify her weekend wardrobe to flatter her assets as well as to express her belief in modesty. Not everyone is so accepting of her hijab, however. Classmates at her private high school ask her what she knows about terrorism, and a cranky neighbor makes no effort to hide her prejudices. Throughout the book, Amal makes candid yet astute observations on what it means to be a Muslim, a modern woman, and a good friend and daughter. Although the book addresses many teen issues including identity, family, religious traditions, and body image, it rarely strays into the realm of didactic. There is plenty of gentle humor, and strong female relationships balance Amal's racist classmates and a friend's crushingly traditional Muslim parent. In addition to her friendships, Amal also tries to deal with a crush that she knows will never develop into a romance and the hypocritical behaviors of some of her cousins. This novel is an excellent addition to the multicultural and chick-lit genres, and it is recommended for most collections.
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
We have been waiting for just such a book as this in YA literature! Abdel-Fattah is a Muslim, an Egyptian-Palestinian-Australian who lives in Sydney. Her narrator is Amal, a smart junior in prep school, whose parents are professionals and who is heading in that direction herself, especially after a highly successful debating contest. Amal was a student at a Catholic school as a child, then at an Islamic school for several years, and now she is at a prep school where being Muslim is a distinct oddity. As the story begins, she is deciding that she wants to begin wearing a headscarf as a sign of her faith—hence the title. Even her parents are somewhat hesitant about this, since it will set Amal so thoroughly apart from the other students. Now, Amal is not someone who is especially pious—she loves junk TV, going out with friends to shop and gossip, and is generally a person any YA can like and relate to as they read about her—this is familiar chick lit with a new twist. What's so good about the story is just how easy it is for non-Muslim readers to relate to Amal; and I'm sure Muslim readers will snap this one up since they rarely see themselves portrayed in YA literature. A subplot concerns a friend of Amal's from the Islamic school: Leila is just as smart as Amal and yearns to continue her education and become a professional; however, her parents do not encourage her as Amal's parents encourage her. Instead, Leila's mother is trying to arrange her marriage and believes marriage and motherhood is all any good Muslim girl should want. Leila runs away to a women's shelter, and finally returns home with her mother's promise to let her continue her education. Here's a greatline as Amal reports how things are going: "Leila brought home the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice for an English assignment and her mother watched it with her. Apparently she was very impressed with Mrs. Bennet's matchmaking skills." Fun and just what we need in the way of diversity.
Children's Literature - Lacrisa Darby
Amal Mohamed Nasrullah Abdel-Hakim, a vivacious and witty teenager, has recently moved with her parents to Melbourne, Australia. The sixteen-year-old Australian-Muslim-Palestinian embraces her heritage and background, while her parents, Mohamed and Jamila, have a deep relationship with their daughter, always keeping Amal grounded with what is important in life. The Abdel-Hakim family resides in the suburbs of Melbourne, where Amal is adjusting to the move while she makes new and exciting friends. When her family moved, she had to leave all of her dear friends behind to attend McCleans Preparatory School full-time. Her friends are in for a big surprise when she shows up at school after their winter break wearing a hijab, a head scarf that symbolizes her religion and faith. Amal makes the life-changing decision to wear a hijab after watching an episode of Friends in which the character Rachel decides to wear a dreadful bridesmaid dress to her ex-boyfriend's wedding. The episode makes Amal passionate about wearing the scarf. Her parents, along with her principal, feel that wearing the scarf will only cause problems for Amal, but she decides that she is proud of her heritage and wants to embrace her culture, despite the consequences. In the beginning, she worries about the stereotypes she will face. Yazmeen, Amal's best friend, helps her deal with the pressure of wearing her hijab. As all of these events take place, she begins to see the world in a new light, realizing why wearing the hijab was so important in the beginning. One thing readers will gain from this book is knowledge of self-love and an appreciation of their culture. The author did a great job of presenting a story of aculture that is constantly maligned for their daily customs—especially in contemporary American media. This engaging text is presented in an intimate format similar to a diary, making Amal's story shine through the text and giving readers a sense of her every emotion. A must-read! Reviewer: Lacrisa Darby
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up
Australian 11th-grader Amal is smart, funny, outspoken, a good student, and a loyal friend. She is also a devout Muslim who decides to wear the hijab, or head covering, full-time. The story tells of her emotional and spiritual journey as she copes with a mad crush on a boy, befriends an elderly Greek neighbor, and tries to help a friend who aspires to be a lawyer but whose well-intentioned mother is trying to force her to leave school and get married. Amal is also battling the misconceptions of non-Muslims about her religion and culture. While the novel deals with a number of serious issues, it is extremely funny and entertaining, and never preachy or forced. The details of Amal's family and social life are spot-on, and the book is wonderful at showing the diversity within Muslim communities and in explaining why so many women choose to wear the hijab. Amal is an appealing and believable character. She trades verbal jibes with another girl, she is impetuous and even arrogant at times, and she makes some serious errors of judgment. And by the end of the story, she and readers come to realize that "Putting on the hijab isn't the end of the journey. It's just the beginning of it."
—Kathleen E. GruverCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
An "Australian-Muslim-Palestinian" teen opts to wear the hijab, the Muslim head scarf, full-time, embarking on a courageous exercise in self-understanding. Sixteen-year-old Amal attends an elite prep school in a Melbourne suburb. Poised to begin the third term of 11th grade, Amal admits, "it's hard enough being an Arab Muslim at a new school," but "shawling up is just plain psychotic." Determined to prove she's strong enough to "wear a badge of my faith," Amal faces ostracism and ridicule as she dons her hijab with both good humor and trepidation. Supported by her parents, Amal spurns racial epithets like "towel head" and discovers her friends still accept her for who she is, not what she wears. As the term progresses, Amal's friends face their own issues of self-worth while her faith is tested when she falls in love with a non-Muslim classmate. Wearing the hijab full-time shuts some doors, but opens others for Amal as she emerges a bright, articulate heroine true to herself and her faith. Abdel-Fattah's fine first novel offers a world of insight to post-9/11 readers. (Fiction. 13-18)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Randa Abdel-Fattah is an attorney, a writer, a chocoholic, and an active member in the interfaith community, as well as the campaign for Palestinian human rights. She is the author of the critically acclaimed novels DOES MY HEAD LOOK BIG IN THIS? and TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT ME, both published by Orchard Books. She is also the author of the forthcoming middle-grade novel, WHERE THE STREETS HAD A NAME, published by Scholastic Press. Ms. Abdel-Fattah lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband and their children.

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Does My Head Look Big in This? 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
GeorgiaPorgia More than 1 year ago
I adored this book! It was funny, thoughtful, honest, and in some ways a bit like Harry Potter. You see, Amal Mohamed Nasrullah Abdel- Hakim ( her dragging long full name) makes a huge decision- to wear a Muslim head wrap called a hijab. However, wearing a hijab comes with other responsibilities. If you wear a hijab, you are required to wear clothes that cover up your body except for your face and hands and that are not too tight or transparent. You must also deal with all the derogatory comments and stares from those intolerant of Islam and Muslims- quite many. However, Amal faces all of those challenges with optimism and humor. Some of the difficulties in her life have nothing to do with Islam, though. Her pal Leila gets into a sticky situation- Leila's mom tries to get Leila married at age seventeen! Amal's other friends are stuck in dilemmas as well and Amal must deal with crap from the nasty, ruthless Queen Bee of her prep school- Tia, a racist bully. At the end of the book, Amal realizes that " putting on my hijab isn't the end of the journey. It's the beginning of it.' This book helped me realize how hard it is to be a Muslim ( although I have already dealt with racism) and how unfairly people treat Muslims and to a lesser extent, other Middle Eastern nationalities. I am tolerant of Muslims and I don't buy into all the anti-Islam propaganda.
JAMELYNRO More than 1 year ago
JimRGill2012 More than 1 year ago
Contemporary Young Adult fiction has developed a greater sense of sophistication and maturity in its approach to a wide range of issues that concern adolescents in meaningful ways—race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, violence, domestic abuse, and sexual abuse (among other themes) are examined sensitively and plausibly in any number of well written works of Young Adult literature. The topic of religion, however, consistently challenges writers of YA fiction. I’ve yet to come across a novel that features religion and faith as integral narrative elements and issues that profoundly affect characters in ways that compel them to develop and think independently. *Does My Head Look Big in This?* comes pretty close but falls somewhat short. The novel focuses on Amal, a high school junior living in Australia. At the start of the final term of the school year, Amal decides to begin wearing the hijab full-time as an expression of her Islamic faith. The novel follows her through some quite typical high school experiences—she and her friends develop crushes on boys, contend with bullying “mean girls,” deal with body image issues, worry about upcoming exams, and cope with overbearing/controlling/unsympathetic/embarrassing parents. Amal has a fairly diverse group of friends—some are Islamic, some are Jewish, some are Palestinian-Australians (like Amal), others hail from other parts of the world, including Mrs. Vaselli, Amal’s elderly Greek-Australian neighbor who reluctantly befriends Amal. Throughout all of these encounters and the rest of the minor conflicts that arise throughout the course of the plot, Amal’s decision to wear the hijab—which seems to be the driving force behind the novel’s primary conflict—increasingly fades into the background. Until the latter portion of the novel, when Amal’s friend Leila runs away from home because of her mother’s strict opposition to her desire for education and independence. Ultimately, Amal’s assertion of her faith creates few problems for her. It does, however, provide her with an enlightened perspective on the actions of others. It seems as though once Amal has resolved her feelings about her own faith and becomes comfortable with her decision (she even rejects a mere kiss from Adam, her crush, and explains that any form of intimacy is forbidden before marriage)—only then can she develop insight and understand the beliefs and action of others, particularly Mrs. Vaselli and Leila. Although the novel is rather lighthearted and avoids serious drama, it sends a powerful albeit tangential message about faith in oneself and the value of empathy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book really helped me I like it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I realy enjoyed this it was funny cute and really really good!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DontRipMyPages More than 1 year ago
Bought this for my daughter and she couldn't put it down. Seeing your child curled up on the couch with a book, giggling and smiling is always a good thing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The protagonist is adept at explaining how following your beliefs/values with outward signs may lead you to believe you will be ostracized. Throughout the novel we get an opportunity to "feel" what the protagonist is feeling. The story was nicely developed and quite enjoyable and engaging. It offers keen insight into how we feel we may be viewed by others for the choices we make. If you enjoy learning about other cultures and faiths, I think you will be delighted by this story.
youngreader15 More than 1 year ago
In this book it gave me an insight on feelings of being outcaste due to the character's appearance, religion, and faith. Amal, a Muslim eleventh grader decided to wear the hijab 'full time' and with her decision she faced the racist comments, prejudices, and teenage issues that challenged her if she is truly ready in continuing on with her decision. I could easily somehow relate to the author and character as it brought out raw feelings of being accepted for who Amal is, not by material items she wore. And though every teenager may wish to feel included and accepted, the reality is not everything is sought out how we want it to be, which showed a true meaning in how we see ourselves and others and also how strongly we judge.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
band_nerd More than 1 year ago
One of the main things I like about this novel is that it educates the reader about Islam in a non-invasive way. Yes, the premise of the book is an Islamic issue, but it doesn't feel preachy. And it is my hope that more kids will pick this up and learn some things about other religions and cultures. In my personal experience, a lot of people could use more of that. Another aspect I appreciate is that the main character chooses to adhere to her faith, no matter how trivial or silly the tenets may seem to others. You don't have to agree with the main character's opinions to realize that this teaches young people a good lesson about holding on to one's values and being oneself. Overall, this was a good book that dealt with touchy religious but still felt like a real story, and told more than one side of everything. I recommend!!
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bookaholic123 More than 1 year ago
I found Amal, the main character of DOES MY HEAD LOOK BIG IN THIS?, to be very real, and easy to relate to, which made this book all the more understandable, and enjoyable. DOES MY HEAD LOOK BIG IN THIS? is important to read because you learn that even though people have different cultures, and beliefs they're all the same. And I realized that people treat Muslims who where the hijab differently, with all the staring, and taunts. Despite all of this, Amal continues to wear it, and I admire here for it. I recommend this book for upper middle school, and I think high schoolers will enjoy it too. Just a warning, there are a couple of inappropriate comments, I don't let them stop you from reading this book.
QMM_track_star More than 1 year ago
I though this book wuz ssssoooo real! You could really relate to it sometimes. I couldn't put it down! Everyone should read it, even if your prejudice about Muslims. Which i'm not! I'm just saying, maybe if people like that actually read it, they'd understand them more and realize all AREN'T mean and do bad things. ENJOYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!{:-D
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
EGHunter01 More than 1 year ago
The protagonist is adept at explaining how following your beliefs/values with outward signs may lead you to believe you will be ostracized. Throughout the novel we get an opportunity to "feel" what the protagonist is feeling. The story was nicely developed and quite enjoyable and engaging. It offers keen insight into how we feel we may be viewed by others for the choices we make. If you enjoy learning about other cultures and faiths, I think you will be delighted by this story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Book_Bug More than 1 year ago
I read this book over hte summer and i could not put the dard book down! It is a very enspiring book to read and in a couple of parts very emotinal. ( i cried!) I truely learned alot from reading this book and i think all should read this and realize that diffrent cultures and religions may be all diffrent to yours and mine but the people of that faith or culture are all the same just may wear diffrent cloths and may appear diffrent. MUST READ!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book about a teenage girl who must deal with private school life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amal is a Muslim who one day decides that she wants to wear a hijab. She gets mocked for this by her snooty classmates. Her struggles and how she responds to them are somewhat inspiring. Her friends and family are so lovable as they support her all the way. A compelling read. I would reccomend to anyone who likes to read. Buy this book since you will want to read over and over again.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Let me start out by saying that DOES MY HEAD LOOK BIG IN THIS? is a book that needed to be written, and one that needs to be read. It definitely fills a gap in young adult literature: it's a story about a normal Muslim girl in a non-Muslim country (Australia) who is not escaping oppression by a fundamentalist government/family or anything like that. Amal is just a normal teenage girl, albeit a Muslim one. She has crushes on boys, she likes to go shopping, she giggles with her friends, and she sometimes argues with her parents or feuds with classmates.

However, Amal's life is changed drastically when she makes a major decision: to wear the hijab, the head scarf worn by Muslim women. This would not be nearly such a big deal were she still at school with all of her friends who are also Muslim and some of whom wear the hijab full-time (meaning: whenever she is around men who are not relatives) as well. However, Amal has recently transferred to a very white-bread prep school, where the environment is completely different.

Amal is subjected to racism and discrimination by kids whose experience with Muslims has largely been confined to what they see in the media. The reactions she faces at home are not all positive, either, but Amal has made a choice. To her, it is a personal, religious decision, to show her devotion to God; it's not about being oppressed as some of her classmates seem to think, or making any sort of statement. Being a Muslim is a part of who Amal is, but in showing that, she faces things a lot worse than any evangelical Christian I know, and that's a sad commentary on our society.

All of that aside, Randa Abdel-Fattah's book is very well-written, and I loved Amal's voice. The characters in this book (particularly Amal) were great. DOES MY HEAD LOOK BIG IN THIS? is actually a little reminiscent of the wonderful LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI by Melina Marchetta, and that's high praise, indeed! The main characters feel similarly different from their peers, are both Australian, and even have sort of similar voices.

This book is more than worth reading; it's a must-read!