If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
This debut novel from an Iranian-American author takes a look at what it is like to be a teen lesbian in Iran. Sahar loves her friend Nasrin intensely. They have been friends since childhood and Sahar has loved her since she was six. They steal kisses when their parents are not around and long to be able to plan their lives together. But in a country where women can be arrested and beaten for showing their elbows in public, their love is not allowed. When Nasrin is betrothed to a young doctor, Sahar desperately looks for a solution that would allow them to be together. She discovers that in Iran, you can have a sex change if you declare yourself to be transgendered and be considered fully the opposite sex. So Sahar sets out to do just that, become a man so that she can marry Nasrin. As Sahar’s plan develops, she has to make some serious choices, ones that will affect her for the rest of her life.
Farizan’s writing is clear and beautiful. She adroitly shows the society of Iran, its treatment of women, the fear of the police, and the danger that the characters are living with. The portrayal of their love is tender and exploratory, as it begins to crumble, one can see Sahar’s love for Nasrin remain even when their closeness begins to evaporate under the stress of the upcoming wedding and Sahar’s desperation to find a solution.
Throughout the book, there is a sense of longing, of yearning for freedom, for love, for one another. It is a book filled with choices where nothing is right due to the society around them. Yet through it all, Sahar shines. She is a wonderful character who is strong, smart and unstoppable.
This book depicts in life in Iran but also offers a diverse look at GLBTQ issues in the Middle East. With a piercingly strong heroine, it is a powerful pick for public library collections. Appropriate for ages 13-17.
Reviewed from ARC received from Algonquin Young Readers.