Thursday, July 30, 2009

Skunk Girl--Sheba Karim

If there's one thing most people can agree on, it's that high school was a challenging experience socially and developmentally. For Nina Khan, growing up in a lily-white suburban community made her experience especially challenging. Nina is an American-born Pakistani Muslim teenager, and her parents are strictly committed to instilling proper values into Nina.

Nina has not only grown up in the shadow of her perfect-S.A.T- scoring-Harvard-attending sister, but her two best girlfriends are gorgeous in that all-American way. Nina isn't allowed to go out at night, attend sleepover parties, have friend that are male, date, or get into the drinking-drugs-flirtation trouble that most high schoolers experience. Although she isn't in love with her strict lifestyle, for the most part it works for her. She is moderately happy, and has two amazing friends. But when Italian-born Asher moves to town, Nina begins to thoroughly question the morality imposed on her by her parents, while simultaneously dreaming of ways to make Asher like her.

The title Skunk Girl comes from a scene where a classmate notices a stripe of hair Nina has growing from her neck down her back. There are many scenes discussing how Nina feels about her ethnicity, most of them negatively discussing her large amount of dark body hair.

I think this book definitely has place in library collections, as it gives a window into a culture and religion that is often unknown or misunderstood. It felt a little light, and the end wrapped up rather unbelievably, but not all books focusing on cultural differences need to be heavy and depressing. This book is not an award winner (IMHO) but a just-fine read. I would recommend this book to teen girls who want a love story, a tale about cultural differences, or growing up Muslim.

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