Book Review: Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah

0-545-05055-3Book #1: Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Published January 2009 by Orchard Books|304 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

What It’s About: Randa Abdel-Fattah’s new novel about about finding your place in life…and learning to accept yourself and your culture.

“At school I’m Aussie-blonde Jamie- one of the crowd. At home I’m Muslim Jamilah- driven mad by my Stone Age dad. I should win an Oscar for my acting skills. But I can’t keep it up for much longer…”

Jamie just wants to fit in. She doesn’t want to be seen as a stereotypical Muslim girl, so she does everything possible to hide that part of herself. Even if it means pushing her friends away because she’s afraid to let them know her dad forbids her from hanging out with boys or that she secretly loves to play the darabuka (Arabic drums).

What I Thought: I really liked it!  After reading Does My Head Look Big In This? last year (and really liking it- it was in the running for one of my favorite books), I knew I wanted to read Abdel-Fattah’s other books!  I really liked Jamie, and I feel like she’s someone we can all relate to because I think we all have parts of ourselves that we want to hide from others.  And with how some of her classmates treat people from other ethnic backgrounds, I don’t blame her for wanting to hide that part of herself, especially with how people see Muslims and people from Middle East. Abdel-Fattah did such a great job at showing how she struggles with her identity within two cultures.  I did like that she became more open at the end of the book, and that she revealed Jamilah to her classmates- and it really made me wish we saw a little bit more of that in the book!

My Rating: 4 stars.  I really liked it, and it’s definitely worth reading!

Rebels By Accident CoverBook #2: Rebels By Accident by Patricia Dunn

Published December 2014 by Sourcebooks|223 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

What It’s About: Mariam Just Wants to Fit In.

That’s not easy when she’s the only Egyptian at her high school and her parents are super traditional. So when she sneaks into a party that gets busted, Mariam knows she’s in trouble…big trouble.

Convinced she needs more discipline and to reconnect with her roots, Mariam’s parents send her to Cairo to stay with her grandmother, her sittu.

But Marian’s strict sittu and the country of her heritage are nothing like she imagined, challenging everything Mariam once believed.

As Mariam searches for the courage to be true to herself, a teen named Asmaa calls on the people of Egypt to protest their president. The country is on the brink of revolution—and now, in her own way, so is Mariam.

What I Thought: I thought Rebels By Accident was just okay- overall, I’m feeling sort of ambivalent about it. There were some things about the book I thought were odd.  Like, Mariam’s parents, who are really strict, are somehow okay with sending her to Egypt to stay with her grandmother…with the best friend who she went to the party with. Really?  You think her BFF is a bad influence, and you’re really strict, and yet you’re completely okay with the two of them flying to Egypt by themselves?  I really don’t get it, but I’m hoping there’s a cultural aspect I’m missing.

I also thought there would be more about the dissent in Egypt, and yet we don’t get a lot of it.  I get that it’s before things really got going, but for some reason, I thought it would have a bigger role in the story.  I also felt like it was more of a fun outing that staying with her grandmother as a form of punishment.  I didn’t care for Mariam- we all have insecurities, but it seemed over the top with her, and a bit too stereotypical.  Also stereotypical was her best friend, who seemed to be trying a little too hard to learn everything possible about Egyptian culture (it could have been nice, but it was just annoying).

My Rating: 2 stars.  It’s okay, but her parents sending her to Egypt made zero sense, I really wanted more of the dissent/political issues going on, and Mariam and her best friend fell flat.

Proxy CoverBook #3: Proxy by Alex London

Published June 2013 by Philomel Books|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Proxy #1

Genre: YA Dystopic

What It’s About: Knox was born into one of the City’s wealthiest families. A Patron, he has everything a boy could possibly want—the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take all his punishments. When Knox breaks a vase, Syd is beaten. When Knox plays a practical joke, Syd is forced to haul rocks. And when Knox crashes a car, killing one of his friends, Syd is branded and sentenced to death.

Syd is a Proxy. His life is not his own.

Then again, neither is Knox’s. Knox and Syd have more in common than either would guess. So when Knox and Syd realize that the only way to beat the system is to save each other, they flee. Yet Knox’s father is no ordinary Patron, and Syd is no ordinary Proxy. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test both boys’ resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay. Some debts, it turns out, cannot be repaid.

What I Thought: Proxy was a book I was really intrigued by, but I end up thinking it was okay.  While the actual concept of a proxy is interesting, I didn’t really like it as much as I thought.  For some reason, I thought we see more from that part of it, but we only see Syd get one punishment.  I guess it makes sense, because you need to focus on one thing, but honestly, something about it didn’t work for me.  It was a lot more boring/uninteresting than I thought, and it’s a pretty forgettable book.  I did like that Proxy’s are named after literary figures.  And that Syd is gay added something to the book, though I can’t explain why.  It did seem like there might have more to that story line, and it fizzled and got lost in everything else going on.  Knox was obnoxious, and Syd is a little sympathetic, but overall, I wasn’t terribly invested in what happened to Syd.

My Rating: 2 stars.  It’s an interesting idea, but overall, pretty forgettable.  Even though the ending was interesting, it wasn’t enough to make me want to pick up the next book.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah

  1. That first one definitely sounds intriguing! I’m always looking for new books to recommend to my students (who eat:sleep:breathe Sarah Dessen and John Green). That second one seems like it would have been a great book if approached differently? But great reviews. 🙂

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