Andrea reviews If You could be Mine by Sara Farizan, Algonquin, 2013
Sometimes, when I am really lucky, I will read a book that just stirs so much emotion in me that I actually cannot keep my hands off the book. I find myself just aching for the characters, and most of the time, I find myself riled up over YA fictional characters. It might sound crazy but there is so much rawness and vulnerability in YA pages.
In Sara Farizan’s debut novel, the upset is there, the agony is apparent, and the rawness of Sahar’s pain is exposed. Sahar lives in Iran and has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six years old. In fact, they share a mutual love for one another, which is great and wonderful, right?
Wrong. Dead wrong.
In oppressive Iran, like most of the Middle Eastern culture, homosexuality is an abomination. It is a sin so heinous that people have brutally and publicly executed for their transgression. Nasrin and Sahar know their government would never allow, let alone accept, their same-sex relationship.
In the same country, though, sexual reassignment surgery is allowed and even funded by the government.
Sahar cannot deny her feelings for Nasrin, and she has to act quickly because her young friend’s parents have prearranged their daughter’s marriage to an older doctor from the village. Arranged marriages are a very traditional Middle Eastern custom.
With urging from her older, gay cousin, Ali, and mentoring from Parveen, a successful transgender in her community, Sahar feels she has no choice but have the surgery. When you’re truly in love, you must make sacrifices- even to this extreme.
This is an amazing story where Sahar’s anxiety was so real; it caused MY heart to pound and MY breath to catch. Although the book was only 247 pages, I savored every word and know I’m going to have to reread it at least five more times.