Book: If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
Published July 2013 by Algonquin Books|165 pages
Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library
Genre: YA Contemporary
In this stunning debut, a young Iranian American writer pulls back the curtain on one of the most hidden corners of a much-talked-about culture.
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?
I liked If You Could Be Mine! What I liked the most was that it shows- really well- what it’s like to be gay in a country like Iran. While you get a sense of what Iran is like, I also felt like we didn’t get the full picture of what it’s like to live in Iran. Not that you can get the full picture with such a short book, but there was a lot of potential there. Still, it did make me pause for a little bit and think about what what it’s like to be a young woman in a different country, and what it’s like to be a young woman who’s also lesbian, in a country where it’s illegal. It’s not something I generally think about, much less for someone in a different country, and this book is one story of someone’s experience.
I will say, though, that I don’t really understand why Sahar is so in love with Nasrin. Nasrin seemed pretty self-absorbed and selfish, and Sahar was so much more willing to do whatever it took to make it work. It seemed like they were on two completely different pages, and it really seemed like Nasrin took Sahar for granted. The facade surrounding Nasrin does crumble a little bit, and I understand why she acted the way she did, but I felt like Sahar deserved better. I feel for both of them, being in a situation where they can’t act on what they want, but it was a lot harder for me to feel for Nasrin, particularly because we don’t see her side of the story. I also felt no chemistry between the two girls, and I wish we had more chemistry, because I felt like I was being told why Sahar was willing to go to such great lengths, but not actually seeing it for myself.
And even though I felt for Sahar much more than Nasrin, I still don’t know how I feel about Sahar. I want her to be happy, but I don’t know if she’ll be able to be fully happy in Iran. I didn’t really get a sense of who Sahar was, other than someone who was more devoted to someone than she really should have been. Something about Sahar was a little bit…hollow, and I wished she actually talked to Nasrin about what she wanted to do, instead of just doing things and hoping it would work out in time.
In the end, not much has stuck with me, and I think it could have been better (and longer!) but overall, I still think there’s enough there to recommend it because it is a perspective that doesn’t seem very common in YA- you’ll see LGBT characters, or people of color, but I haven’t come across many books (if any) where you see that intersection.
3 stars. I liked If You Could Be Mine, but I didn’t care for Nasrin, and the relationship that she had with Sahar seemed really one-sided.