Boy vs. Girl: “Pure” Islam or Purely Sanctimonious?

Na'ima B. Robert’s second book, “Boy vs. Girl” is set in a South Asian community in Britain. The two main characters, Farhana and Faraz, are sixteen-year-old twins trying to negotiate their identities as the children of Pakistani immigrants and as Muslims.  Robert attempts to tell the story of struggling with trying to find a sense of identity as a Muslim teenager.Farhana is perfect and ideal in every sense of the world. Not only is she described as looking like “Aishwarya Rai,” she is strong, … [Read more...]

More on Muslim Teens in Young Adult Fiction: Bifocal

In March, MMW ran a guest post by Özlem Sensoy and Elizabeth Marshall about representations of Muslim women and girls in young adult literature (part one, part two, and part three.)  The article focuses on stories, written by non-Muslim Western authors, of Muslim girls living in places like Afghanistan, and the kinds of images that are created through these novels.  In their introduction, they ask: "Does popular young adult fiction about Muslim girls build understanding or reinforce stereoty … [Read more...]

“Save the Muslim Girl!” Part III

This was written by Özlem Sensoy and Elizabeth Marshall, and originally appeared in Rethinking Schools Online. Part I & Part II ran earlier this week.Learning a Stereotype Lesson #3: Muslim Girls and Women Want To Be Saved by the WestFor many in the West, the plight of Afghanistan is framed exclusively within a post 9/11, U.S.-led “war on terror.” While radical women’s organizations like RAWA have condemned brutality against women in Afghanistan for decades, their voices were absent, and … [Read more...]

“Save the Muslim Girl!” Part II

This was written by Özlem Sensoy and Elizabeth Marshall, and originally appeared in Rethinking Schools Online. You can read Part I here.Learning a Stereotype Lesson #2: Veiled = OppressedGendered violence in Middle Eastern countries, or the threat of it, organizes many of the books’ plots. With few exceptions, the “good” civilized men in the girl’s family are taken from her. In Under the Persimmon Tree, a brother and father are forced to join the Taliban as fighters, while in The Breadwin … [Read more...]

“Save the Muslim Girl!” Part I

This was written by Özlem Sensoy and Elizabeth Marshall, and originally appeared at Rethinking Schools Online.Does popular young adult fiction about Muslim girls build understanding or reinforce stereotypes?Young adult titles that focus on the lives of Muslim girls in the Middle East, written predominantly by white women, have appeared in increasing numbers since Sept. 11, 2001. A short list includes Deborah Ellis’s trilogy The Breadwinner, Parvana’s Journey, and Mud City; Suzanne Fisher Sta … [Read more...]


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