Thursday, September 12, 2013

Forbidden Romance

Forbidden romance is not a new topic to the world of Teen Literature, but author Sara Farizan puts an unusual spin on the concept with her first novel, If You Could Be Mine. Set in Iran, where laws strictly govern personal freedoms and ways of life, this story centers around Sahar...and Sahar's forbidden romantic feelings toward her best friend, Nasrin. In Iran, homosexuality is not just frowned upon by the conservatives. It is a crime punishable by death. So the girls carry on in private, careful to keep their feelings and activities a secret. Then Nasrin's family announces she is to be married. And Sahar's world falls apart. Then comes a surprising, albeit highly unorthodox, solution to her problem: Gender reassignment surgery, which would be both supported by and paid for by the government. If Sahar went through with such a thing, she could be with Nasrin. Legally. But first she must prove she's actually a male trapped in a female body (which she isn't). As the date of her friend's wedding approaches, Sahar has some serious thinking to do. Will she be willing to sacrifice everything about herself for a relationship that may or may not work? No spoilers here. You'll have to read the story for yourself to see what Sahar decides to do.

If You Could Be Mine serves as a cautionary tale in tackling (in a very extreme way) an issue that teens often face when it comes to relationships: Trying to change who they really are in order to be with someone who may not be best suited for them. It could be something as simple as saying they hate Mexican food when their favorite restaurant is Taco Bell or feigning interest in video games when they, in reality, can't stand them.  Or, in the case of Sahar, actually considering life-altering surgery. And the moral of the story? You guessed it: Being true to yourself above all else, even if it means you can't be with your crush. 

If You Could Be Mine isn't a book for everyone. It addresses some very controversial topics and situations that may make some readers highly uncomfortable. So fair warning! Just the same, If You Could Be Mine is a beautiful and well-written coming of age story. 

If You Could Be Mine can be found on our New Book shelf.--AJB

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