Meet Jamilah's family; Shereen, a girl who wears a hijab full of propaganda quotes, Bibal, a boy who has degreed in engineering, and dad Hakim, who is against all of their children's desires. Kind of hypocritical of him considering he has a phD but decides to just be a taxi driver. Or maybe his misery was cursed upon them when their mother died. There's a Muslim kid named Fareed at Jamilah's high school, and he stands by his religion but there's a nasty teen named Peter who is about the most openly racist kid on the planet. Or, as racist as any Trump supporter. The way everyone has assumptions about Muslims, Jamilah has been disguising herself as Jamie, not wearing her hijab and always making up excuses about her lifestyle and avoiding any friends over or any friends meeting her father. Sad life, huh? Well, the Grade 10 formal is coming up, and Jamilah has some kind of online relationship.
You know, there are times where I feel like this blog makes me look a little racist. I mean, my first movie review was Not Without my Daughter, a movie about a mother trying to escape with her daughter from Iran, which I gave a D to. And then I've given Fs to movies that have a lot of race and religion mentions. And now a negative review to this? Well, there is some negative that has to do with this. Jamilah's dad Hakim, is one of the strictest - no, make that meanest - fathers I've ever read about, and maybe that's the point but I felt the offensiveness kind of crawled in a little too much. And what I mean by too much is he and Jamilah argue - and these arguments are actually good - in fact, they're infuriating and I was always rooting for Jamilah, but it starts with one of these arguments and then puts it on repeat. The response and outcome was always predictable to the point where it was painful. I just wanted to yell to Jamilah to just keep secrets, and maybe just sneak out. I know she has a curfew, but if she can get away with not wearing her hijab at school and disguise her name for as long as she has, I think she can get away with one night out. And in all honesty, Hakim is not a total monster. But he says girls simply have less rights and abilities than men and that's simple fact. I don't know if that's part of the Muslim religion, but it's a little impossible to take his side in an argument after he says that. Which is easy considering how both his kids are able to get away with so much and Jamilah can't get away with a second cup of mint tea.
Another story element I was really against was the minuscule mention of Jamie's hijab. Here's what I mean. Jamilah gets a job somewhere in public, and it's clear enough when she gets the application that she's wearing it because she's in the car with her sister Shereen. But afterwards it's never clear, never mentions, when she has her hijab on or not. And this is a problem, because when she has family and friends coming over to her workplace, it's good for her to think about when she should switch her identity and how ready she should be, which is I think realistic, but this never happens and that could've builded tension and made sense simultaneously. There's also a twist in this book, but the fun-turned-dismal arguments exhausted me and put me in the state where the twist was instantly predictable.
I originally picked up this book because of the interesting premise and I was interested in Muslims. This book does have an assortment of instruments and shows some decent rap Arabic lyrics and also shows the similarities between Muslims and other cultures more endorsed in North America. The biggest similarity I noticed was mint tea, by the way. And I liked how it shows people might not actually judge you as much as you think if you have a secret (even though I don't think that's how everyone would react.)
But how did I think about the ending? The ending almost always determines my final grade. Well...this is my least favourite book ending since The Glass Arrow back last Winter. It spends all its time building up toward a, you could say boss battle of sorts, and then, well, let's just say it hurts to read, it doesn't understand that the ending makes the whole book a ripoff, and it was in short a disaster. The only amusing thing is that I expected this story element that comes in pretty much every secret identity story and it didn't come.