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If You Could Be Mine

Author – Sara Farizan

Pages – 256

Publisher – Algonquin Young Readers

Expected Release Date – August 30th 2013

Summary –

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 if their relationship came to light.

So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.

Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, 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. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?

My Rating – 3 Stars

*I received an advance digital copy of this novel from Netgalley on behalf of Algonquin Young Readers*

Sahar and Nasrin have been friends since they were children. Their mothers were friends growing up and they’ve been close all their lives. They are also in love, and have been for most of their friendship. They sneak around because being lesbians in Iran can lead to execution.

The day comes that Nasrin must be married off, to a rich doctor much older than her. Sahar knows this will mean the end of their relationship. She comes up with idea to have a sex reassignment surgery, so that she can become a man and be allowed to legally marry Nasrin. She enlists the help of her cousin Ali, who is also gay and a bit of the voice of reason against the surgery.

I wasn’t able to identify with Sahar. I’m not a lesbian; I’m not transgender; I’m not living in a country where it is punishable by death to be a lesbian. I have been a teenager in love, willing to do crazy things to keep a hold of someone but nothing so drastic as to change my gender.

Which I suppose is the biggest issue I have with this book; that in Sahar’s mind it’s no big thing to change your gender. It IS a big thing; it’s a life altering change that takes years. There are all kinds of surgical and psychological ramifications and I feel like the book makes light of it.

Sahar lies and attends a support group for people have had the surgery and they share their stories about how they lost jobs or family or friends and one person that was even forced into the surgery after her family found out she was gay. Even after hearing their stories, she still wants to have the surgery and have it before the wedding (which is a short three months away) so she can stop it and marry Nasrin herself. I can’t believe someone that’s studying to be a doctor (Like Sahar is) would not understand that she can’t do all that in only a few months.

Sahar is very immature and selfish. She doesn’t even really know if she’s a “real” or if she’s just attracted to Nasrin. Nasrin is a very selfish bratty little girl. She clearly thinks of no one but herself. I disliked her character very much. Sahar treats her father terribly, I think. He’s a poor old man still grieving from his wife’s death.

There is some insight to the Iranian culture (looks into different cultures always fascinates me) and this book definitely has a message about oppression and acceptance but I felt that it felt flat. Sahar wasn’t a man stuck in a woman’s body she was a desperate teenager in love.

It wasn’t a bad book but it wasn’t for me.

If You Could Be Mine