Sunday, November 29, 2009

Skunk Girl

I am so sad that today is the last day of our Thanksgiving weekend. We have enjoyed getting together with friends on two different nights, putting up our Christmas decorations and just having time to relax. Tomorrow we begin another week of busy-ness - back to work and school with a night-time elementary Christmas program. The whole week is booked full and mostly I love the hectic schedule and know I will definitely miss this someday, but this weekend has been quite enjoyable.

I was able to read Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim, a middle grade novel that Amanda at A Patchwork of Books had reviewed long ago. My public library finally got it in and I was the first to check it out. Nina, the protagonist of this book, is Pakistani, living in a town with few people who look like her. She feels like she can't measure up to her older, super-nerd sister - in brains or in looks. Her parents also have very traditional Muslim beliefs and she is not allowed to talk to a boy on the phone, much less date one. She cannot attend parties or overnights at friends' houses. These things make her feel at a true disadvantage and like she is an outsider. When a new boy moves in to town, from Italy no less, Nina is interested in him and so is her long time nemesis, Serena.

Nina's feelings resonate with many girls - the idea that they don't quite fit in, or are not cute enough. Nina's ability to see things maturely and think about the long term will hopefully send a good message to readers who can see themselves in Nina.

I really liked this book. Last winter I read Artichoke Heart, another book about self-image. That book focused more on weight issues, while Nina, although not happy with her weight, focused more on looking different than other girls. In Nina's case, her Pakistani background caused her to have hairy arms, legs, and facial hair. I liked that Nina found a group of other Pakistani girls who discussed this together, making her realize she was not alone with her problem.

I highly recommend Skunk Girl and am happy that Karim is at work on her second novel.

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