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If You Could Be Mine
     

If You Could Be Mine

3.5 11
by Sara Farizan
 

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Winner of the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Children’s/Young Adult
One of Rolling Stone’s 40 Best YA Novels
A 2014 ALA Rainbow List Top 10 Title
A Booklist Top 10 First Novels for Youth 2013
A Chicago Public Library “Best of the Best” 2013


This Forbidden Romance Could Cost Them Their Lives

Overview

Winner of the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Children’s/Young Adult
One of Rolling Stone’s 40 Best YA Novels
A 2014 ALA Rainbow List Top 10 Title
A Booklist Top 10 First Novels for Youth 2013
A Chicago Public Library “Best of the Best” 2013


This Forbidden Romance Could Cost Them Their Lives


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. So they carry on in secret until Nasrin’s parents suddenly announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution: 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. Sahar will never be able to love Nasrin in the body she wants to be loved in without risking their lives, but is saving their love worth sacrificing her true self?

 

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This provocative coming-of-age story takes place in contemporary Iran, where the sight of a woman’s elbows can provoke police action; homosexuality, “a bargain made with the devil,” carries threats of beating and hanging; but being transsexual is recognized by the government as a treatable illness. Seventeen-year-old Sahar, who has wanted to marry her best friend Nasrin since they were six years old, dreams of living openly with her lover. Nasrin prefers to accept an arranged marriage, while intending to continue their illicit affair. Exposed to a world of sexual diversity by her gay cousin and made desperate by Nasrin’s impending marriage, Sahar explores the one legal option for the two of them to be together: her own sex reassignment surgery. Throughout this strong debut, Farizan weaves in details of daily Iranian life, exposing the various opportunities available to people depending upon their academic prowess, financial status, social class, and sexuality. Within a rigid societal structure, her fleshed-out characters wrestle with depression, hope, complacency, and risk, and live out the consequences of their choices. Ages 14–up. Agent: Leigh Feldman, Writers House. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
“Farizan’s prose is frank, funny and bittersweet, enjoyable . . . And her secondary storylines ring out memorably.” —The New York Times Book Review

“This beautifully crafted young-adult novel offers timely insight into the struggles of those who must be their authentic selves no matter where they live.” —Ms. Magazine

“Sharp and moving . . . An interesting look at gender identity and gay culture in Iran . . . Also a compelling story about class and the purpose of marriage.” —The Boston Globe

"[A] terrific debut novel . . . Rich with details of life in contemporary Iran, this is a GLBTQ story that we haven't seen before in YA fiction. Highly recommended." —School Library Journal

"Accomplished and compassionate . . . A groundbreaking, powerful depiction of gay and transsexual life in Iran . . . An intimate look at life in modern-day Iran and its surprising Westernization, even though much of this culture is clandestine." —Booklist, starred review

“[A] provocative coming-of-age story . . . Throughout this strong debut, Farizan weaves in details of daily Iranian life . . . Within a rigid societal structure, her fleshed-out characters wrestle with depression, hope, complacency, and risk.”Publishers Weekly

“A convincing portrait of everyday life in post-revolutionary Iranian society . . . While Farizan deals with LGBT issues in this book, she also is writing about the choices all young adults must face. Sahar must find her place in her family, decide which career to follow, and figure out how to let go of a first love—universal themes in all cultures.” —Durham Herald-Sun

Reviews
“Farizan’s prose is frank, funny and bittersweet, enjoyable . . . And her secondary storylines ring out memorably.” —The New York Times Book Review

“This beautifully crafted young-adult novel offers timely insight into the struggles of those who must be their authentic selves no matter where they live.” —Ms. Magazine

“Sharp and moving . . . An interesting look at gender identity and gay culture in Iran . . . Also a compelling story about class and the purpose of marriage.” —The Boston Globe

"[A] terrific debut novel . . . Rich with details of life in contemporary Iran, this is a GLBTQ story that we haven't seen before in YA fiction. Highly recommended." —School Library Journal

"Accomplished and compassionate . . . A groundbreaking, powerful depiction of gay and transsexual life in Iran . . . An intimate look at life in modern-day Iran and its surprising Westernization, even though much of this culture is clandestine." —Booklist, starred review

“[A] provocative coming-of-age story . . . Throughout this strong debut, Farizan weaves in details of daily Iranian life . . . Within a rigid societal structure, her fleshed-out characters wrestle with depression, hope, complacency, and risk.”Publishers Weekly

“A convincing portrait of everyday life in post-revolutionary Iranian society . . . While Farizan deals with LGBT issues in this book, she also is writing about the choices all young adults must face. Sahar must find her place in her family, decide which career to follow, and figure out how to let go of a first love—universal themes in all cultures.” —Durham Herald-Sun

Booklist
“Farsad uses crisply clipped syllables and a rolling musicality to evoke the accent of Tehran. This is a moving presentation of a powerful story.”
Booklist

BookPage
“[A] terrific debut novel. . . . Rich with details of life in contemporary Iran, this is a GLBTQ story that we haven’t seen before in YA fiction. Highly recommended.”
School Library Journal

Children's Literature - Annie Laura Smith
Homosexuality is a crime in Iran punishable by imprisonment and possible execution. This novel addresses the problem of two lesbian Muslin teens in love and the consequences their romance faces. Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were children. When Nasrin's parents arrange a wedding for her with a doctor, her friend, Sahar, has to find a way to deal with this obstacle. Sex reassignment is legal, and she thinks she could keep their relationship if she were to become a man. Nasrin feels she can marry the doctor, and secretly continue her relationship with Sahar. The author explores the tangled issues of sexuality and gender in contemporary Iran throughout the story. She began writing the novel as her MFA thesis at Lesley University, and traveled to Tehran and met with people in the gay community. She shows the repressive government and rigid societal structure of the country well. This story is quite authentic and a remarkable glimpse into gay and transsexual life in the oppressed country of Iran. Reviewer: Annie Laura Smith
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—In this terrific debut novel, readers meet Sahar, a 17-year-old student who lives in Tehran. She is smart and ambitious, and she has a secret that could get her arrested or even killed; she is a lesbian and is in love with her best friend. When Nasrin's parents arrange for her to marry a young male doctor, Sahar knows that she and Nasrin will no longer be able to be with each other. When desperate Sahar meets transsexual Parveen at a party given by her gay cousin, she thinks she sees a way to be with Nasrin. In Iran, it is not illegal to be transsexual, as it is to be gay or lesbian, and the state will even pay for sex reassignment surgery because it is seen as a necessary medical procedure. Sahar pursues sex reassignment, dreaming of marrying Nasrin even though she knows in her heart that she doesn't really want to become a man. As Nasrin's wedding approaches, Sahar realizes its inevitability and must decide what she is going to do. Farizan's portrayal of Sahar and her predicament is sensitive and heartbreaking. Even less-sympathetic characters, such as Nasrin and her parents, are portrayed in a nuanced manner; in the culture Farizan depicts, the girls' fears that their romantic relationship will become known are realistic and understandable. Rich with details of life in contemporary Iran, this is a GLBTQ story that we haven't seen before in YA fiction. Highly recommended.—Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Sahar, a teenage lesbian living in Iran, contemplates desperate measures when she learns the girl she loves is marrying a man. Sahar has loved Nasrin since childhood. Nasrin swears she loves Sahar back, but she is rich, spoiled and unwilling to disappoint her mother, a combination that spells tragedy to readers even though Sahar remains poignantly hopeful. When Nasrin's family announces her engagement to a doctor, Sahar is heartsick. Through her gay cousin Ali's underground network, Sahar meets a woman named Parveen. Upon learning that Parveen is transsexual, Sahar hatches a scheme to transition herself, certain that Nasrin would marry her if she were a man. Gentle, unintrusive exposition clues readers into Iran's political and social realities, and the characters' choices about how to wear head scarves or how openly to talk about same-sex attractions are refreshingly and believably diverse. So too are the members of the transgender support group Sahar attends: The group has a broad enough range of experience that readers never get the message that transition itself is a mistake, only that it is the wrong choice for Sahar. Each character and relationship is kindly and carefully drawn, from Sahar's sad, shut-down Baba to reckless, twinkling Ali. A moving and elegant story of first love and family. (Fiction. 12-18)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781616203108
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
08/20/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
178,621
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

What People are Saying About This

Chris Lynch
“A book full to bursting with aching, haunting, beautiful questions.”
—Chris Lynch, author of Inexcusable

From the Publisher

"A book full to bursting with aching, haunting, beautiful questions." --Chris Lynch, author of Inexcusable

Jacqueline Woodson
“A heartbreakingly beautiful story of first love. . . . The reader becomes part of Sahar and Nasrin’s journey. We move through it with them with our heart in our hands.”
—Jacqueline Woodson, author of Beneath a Meth Moon

author of Inexcusable Chris Lynch
"A book full to bursting with aching, haunting, beautiful questions."
author of Beneath a Meth Moon Jacqueline Woodson
“ A heartbreakingly beautiful story of first love . . . The reader becomes part of Sahar and Nasrin’s journey. We move through it with them with our heart in our hands.”

Meet the Author

Sara Farizan, the daughter of Iranian immigrants, was born in Massachusetts. She is an MFA graduate of Lesley University and holds a BA in film and media studies from American University. Sara grew up feeling different in her private high school, not only because of her ethnicity, but also because of her liking girls romantically, her lack of excitement in science and math, and her love of writing plays and short stories. So she came out of the closet in college, realized math and science weren’t so bad (but were not for her), and decided she wanted to be a writer. Sara has been a Hollywood intern, a waitress, a comic book/record store employee, an art magazine blogger, a marketing temp, and an after-school teacher, but above all else she has always been a writer. Sara lives near Boston, loves Kurosawa films, eighties R&B, and graphic novels, and thinks all kids are awesome. She is the acclaimed author of If You Could Be Mine and Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel.

Customer Reviews

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If You Could Be Mine: A Novel 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Bolkonsky More than 1 year ago
I was feeling nostalgic for a Sad Gay Book like I used to read in secret my from local library. I figured this would fit the bill. It did, and though I was crying towards the end, the author doesn't just leave the character's lives in shambles. For young readers, as well, I'm glad events steered Sahar the way they did. There's an important lesson in how the author handled everything. We may not always get what we want, but our story isn't over yet.
Katie_breathofbooks More than 1 year ago
This was an interesting read that opened my eyes to another culture (the culture of Iran). It was interesting to see how different many things were there. In Iran, someone can get arrested for being gay, or for showing their elbows. In that country, homosexuality is a crime that is punishable by death, which really seems like an absurd punishment that does not fit the crime. This story starts with the relationship between Sahar and Nasrin. Sahar has always dreamed of marrying Nasrin, and the relationship between them is mutual, but also highly forbidden. Sahar is devastated when she finds out that Nasrin's parents have arranged for Nasrin to be married. While I was originally rooting for them as a couple, I also knew that the situation was dangerous for them, and I ended up thinking that Nasrin was pretty selfish. She basically strung Sahar along for the ride, expecting her to still be with her when she had a husband. Sahar cared about Nasrin, but what she needed was a real commitment from her. Something that I found interesting about the laws in Iran is that while homosexuality is illegal, being transgender is not, and the government even pays for the surgeries for people who are transgender. Sahar wrestles with the idea of whether or not being with Nasrin is worth becoming a person that she is not (a man). It is a really interesting struggle to read about, and you can see how she was torn, though at the same time, I thought Nasrin wasn't really worth all of that. I'm not going to say whether or not she goes through with changing her gender. If you like YA books about another culture, read this book.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
It was heartbreaking to watch Nasrin want something so bad that she could not have. Her desire consumed her and yet it was unreachable to her. She is living the life that was expected of her, a life that is right and just and she’s miserable. She tells herself that it will be okay and that things will work themselves out along the way and make her journey worthwhile but will they? Can she really forget the love of her life and live a life that is satisfying and enjoyable? Sahar knows what she wants and is frustrated on how to obtain it. She knows her sexual orientation is not something she can ignore but she is confused at the options available to her in her country. Unable to talk to her family and not yet of legal age, Sahar options are limited. For years, these two girls have kept their intimate feeling for each other hidden from the public. When Nasrin announces her sudden engagement, Sahar is shocked but soon discovers how Nasrin parent’s played into the picture. Sahar will not stay hidden in Nasrin’s life as she suggest and soon, Sahar begins to plan how she can be Nasrin’s partner and call off Nasrin’s current engagement. Sahar’s world breaks open as she sees firsthand how the government views individuals questioning their sexual orientation. She is cast out into a world that is hidden, into a world where people can be themselves but it makes Sahar uncomfortable. The two girls want no one to know of their relationship, they are afraid of the ramifications that might transpire should they get caught. Sahar tries to get Nasrin out her mind as she works on a solution and it seems to work. Nasrin, on the other hand, needs Sahar like air. She crumbles, taking to her bed and becomes withdrawn without her dear friend. Nasrin, the individual who I believed would be the one who would succeed, fell…she fell hard and that my friend, is love. 3.5 stars
seaofempathy More than 1 year ago
For people saying that they felt like Sahar and Nasrin's relationship didn't make sense or wasn't realistic enough, or that Sahar was horrible to Nasrin, I feel that these could be valid points, but aren't necessarily at odds with the validity of the story. How many times do we get involved with people in similar ways?  In relationships where it feels (or definitely is) one-sided?  In relationships where we don't tell the other person what we're planning or we jump to conclusions?  I feel that these aspects of the story are frustrating, but not because of poor writing.  They're frustrating because we've been there and done those things, and we ache when we see Sahar and Nasrin do those things, too. Farizan creates believable characters in an important and interesting setting, giving them problems to tackle and letting us cheer and groan as the characters fail or succeed in these endeavors.  I didn't give the book 5 stars because I feel some interactions were a little telegraphed and there was a lack of subtlety that made me wish for a slightly more nuanced version of events and characters.  But I am also a 31-year-old reading a teen novel, so my perspectives on that may be a little different. Ultimately, I really enjoyed the book, and read it almost in one sitting.  The plot swept me up and the passions of the characters carried me along.  I'm very glad I decided to order it, and I will probably read other books by Farizan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nice story
donniedarkogirl More than 1 year ago
If You Could Be Mine was a book I wanted to love and wanted to give five stars to but could not. The synopsis pulled me in - I looked forward to reading about Sahar and Nasrin's love for one another in the context of a culture I'm not familiar with. Most of all, I wanted to see if Sahar would end up changing her true self in the name of love.  Sahar was willing to risk her happiness for Nasrin and undergo a radical change (radical because she didn't truly identify as a male), but Nasrin didn't want to risk hers. I questioned their relationship throughout the story. It was obvious to me that Sahar was much more in love with Nasrin than the other way around.  Nasrin didn't want to leave her easy comfortable life behind; it was more important to her than love. I wasn't that invested in their relationship as a result. I didn't care for Nasrin - I thought she was spoiled, selfish, and undeserving of Sahar's love.  As a result, I became more interested in Sahar's cousin Ali's story. There was much more life to Ali than either Sahar or Nasrin, who fell flat for me. I think If You Could Be Mine had all kinds of potential to be a five star book, but with underdevelopment of the characters I was wanting to root for, their unequal relationship dynamic, and more interesting secondary characters, I was left wanting more.   The ending, however, was satisfying for me because it was realistic. I don't think it could have ended any other way and wouldn't have wanted it to. I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review. Thank you! 
DahlELama More than 1 year ago
This was a really lovely, painful story, and a fascinating examination of sexual policy and modern Iran, as it's pretty intensely focused on the difference in attitude toward homosexuality vs. gender dysphoria. Sahar is a sweet, ambitious character, and it's hard to watch how deeply she devotes herself to this one girl who is so much more limited in her ability to return it. If this were set in a different world, in a different life, Nasrin would be that kind of love interest you flat-out hate, the one who simply takes what she wants when she wants it. But context is everything, and I think Farizan did a great job establishing it here with a glimpse into base knowledge of the country and its politics. For me, the shortcoming is in the all-too-abrupt fast-forward ending, and the fact that the story didn't take the opportunity to go beyond the one romance and give us more of Sahar. She felt a little underdeveloped to me, more of a vehicle for the romance and politics than a person herself, and I would've loved more about her being gay in Iran, particularly in the future touched upon in the final chapter, rather than just how it pertains to this one relationship. I wanted more of a feel for her as an independent entity, especially given that she had actual aspirations, and it didn't quite get there for me. I also found the fact that for all their passion, Sahar and Nasrin never even seemed to discuss or think about going beyond kissing, a little unusual. I would've liked and expected to see that, even if it were quickly dismissed. Overall, though, a definite recommendation!
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
    I liked the culture and the message of this one. Sahar is a teen trying to be who she is under heavy government oppression. Sahar loves Nasrin and this is not allowed, so they are best friends and keep their love under wraps until a husband is chosen for Nasrin, and Sahar realizes that she doesn't want to be separated from her. She is close with her cousin Ali, who is gay and throws wild parties, and at one she meets Parveen who had sex reassignment surgery because this is allowed. This gets Sahar thinking that this could be her ticket to being with the girl she loves, Nasrin once and for all.       Sahar is smart, protective, hard working, and caring. She takes care of her dad, and she thinks and sees the best in others. She lost her mom, and her dad goes into deep depression and I totally felt and respected how Sahar loved and wanted to care for him. It came off really sincere as well how much she loved her mom and would say she could sense her presence or what she would have thought about something. This helped to add some additional emotional depth to the story!     While I liked Nasrin because I saw her through Sahar's eyes, I still didn't completely feel their love. I think that is because it was an established relationship and maybe the spark was assumed. While I appreciate greatly that it wasn't a case of insta-love especially since it is in a culture where this isn't allowed, and Sahar is considering such life altering measure in order to make it work. I like that they had the easy camaraderie, and even though there obviously was some chemistry, I just wish I could have experiences some flashbacks, or something in order to really experience that spark and make me more emotional invested. I feel like Sahar was too hard on Nasrin to love her as much as she did.      Oh, and I know this is probably just an ARC (advanced reader copy) issue, but there was some distracting formatting issues such as double ff's being omitted, and the first sentence of every chapter had pieces missing.      It is really neat to be immersed in a culture that is not mine, and yet not making myself feel dumb because I don't get the cultural differences. They are presented by showing me the norm, and even though I know it wouldn't be part of normal thought to explain what the Iranian words are, Ms. Farizan (the author) makes it natural.       The ending... I liked it but I didn't. It was very realistic, but I wanted it to somehow be more fantasy and more of an HEA than I got. But it took guts to write it like that, and I think that it gives hope for the future. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeenAtHeart More than 1 year ago
Review originally posted at Bettering Me Up. I really, really, really wanted to love this book: how do two homosexual women in Iran fight to be together? What a fantastic premise! But I hated the characters. Sahar is a total biznatch to Nasrin the majority of the time and I have no idea why they're together. Sahar makes this monumental decision for their relationship WITHOUT CONSULTING HER GIRLFRIEND. That really pissed me off. I also don't understand why she didn't think about any other alternatives. Why did she turn immediately to a sex change operation? I dislike when books tell me what's happening instead of showing me: it bogs the story down and leaves me unsatisfied. Were this novel put in the hands of the right editor, it would be a fantastic story. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Heidi_G More than 1 year ago
Sahar is 17, living in Tehran, and is in love with her life-long friend, Nasrin.  Although Sahar dreams of spending her life with Nasrin, she knows that this is unlikely, as Nasrin will never be accepted at the university that Sahar will most likely get into--Nasrin is known for her beauty and not her brains.  Sahar's cousin, Ali, introduces her to the mostly-hidden culture of sexual freedom in the club scene.  When Nasrin's engagement is announced, Sahar, the narrator of this story, thinks that if she undergoes sex reassignment surgery, that would force an end to the upcoming nuptials.  Homosexuality is forbidden in Iran but being transgender is not. Nasrin--what a stuck-up, rich little girl.  She feeds off the emotional attachment that Sahar has for her and complains at the least little thing.  Sahar doesn't realize that she is being strung along, treated as a toy, and that she will ultimately be dumped.  The story ends, months after the wedding, with the two young women in each others' arms but not in a way which one might expect.  I really didn't like Nasrin's character. This book will be an eye-opener to teens who are not familiar with societal norms outside their own.   While I am not familiar myself with Iranian culture, I feel this is an important story for teens to read. Amazing voice by Negin Farsa @NeginFarsad--perfect for this story.