Abdel-Fattah has written an extremely likeable novel, which will appeal to both children and adults. She has easily captured the heart and spirit of her main character, Amal Mohamed Nasrullah Abdel-Hakim, a sixteen-year-old Australian-Palestinian-Muslim still coming to grips with her various identity hyphens. Mind you, Abdel-Fattah herself went through the same issues growing up, so the warmth of the novel obviously comes from real experiences.
It’s hard enough to be cool as a teenage when being one issue behind the latest Cosmo disqualifies you from the in-group. Try wearing a veil on your head and getting in the â€˜bums up’ position at lunchtime and you know you’re in for a tough time. Luckily my friends support me, although they’ve got a few troubles of their own. Simone, blonde and gorgeous, has got serious image problems, and Leila’s really intelligent but her parents are more interested in her getting a marriage certificate than her high school certificate. And I thought I had problemsâ€¦