Genre: YA, Romance, GLBTQ, Contemporary,Culture, Realistic Fiction
Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?
What was equally heart wrenching and compelling was the realization the reader gets that try as she might, Sahar is not going to get the happily ever after she is hoping for. Told in the first person, this book pulls the reader through the frantic desperation of a young Iranian girl who has been in love with her best friend since they were children. I really enjoyed this book, although the methods Sahar ties to go through to hold on to Nasrin are beyond desperate and questionable.
I loved that without a doubt we (and she) knows that she is gay. And beyond her devotion and endless pit of love and desire for Nasrin, we get to see that Sahar has a slight attraction to her cousin’s friend, Paravene. I liked knowing that Sahar was certain about her sexuality, which made her process of planning out her sex change all the more nail biting. It was easy to tell Sahar knew, in the back of her mind, that this wasn’t the answer.
She referred to the others in Paravene’s transgender group with their proper pronouns and as people who have transitioned into their true selves. I think it’s amazing that their government makes the legal for transsexual people to have surgery, yet awful that it is considered a disease. And that punishment, even death must be dealt out to gay people. Not that I agree with Sahar’s plan. Knowing that she was going about the whole thing wrong, but still insisting that it was her only hope to be with the women she loved. I did however, feel like we even got subtle hints from the other characters who had no idea about her plans. It was like spotting speckles of “just embrace who you are, Sahar” throughout the narrative. Until the realization of her situation and the Iranian law/religion crepted back in.
This may sound strange, but I liked seeing Nasrin get sad or upset when it came to Sahar. I know that the odds are not in their favor when it comes to their love, but I did not always get the impression that Nasrin truely returned Sahar’s feelings. So seeing those brief moments were both reassuring and bitter sweet. On to what I found this book lacked, I found the lack of repercussions for Sahar’s stunt to be disappointing.
I understand Paravene’s character kind nature, but even she should have given Sahar a tongue lashing. It was not only dishonest, but disrespectful. I also like how the end of the book brought us back into the hopeless Sahar and Nasrin circle again. I liked seeing Sahar detached and focused on something that wasn’t Nasrin related for a change.
As much as we see her character go through in this book, it would have been nice to see her not end up back in Nasrin’s orbit again. This book was interesting to read and I’m really glad that I picked this book for my #readdiversebooksyearround challenge. However dated or unimaginable the aspects of Nasrin and Sahar’s situation seemed it was just as surreal to realize that this kind of treatment and cruelty is still very much present all over the world.
Thank you so much for reading. ^__^ Be sure to watch this space more book reviews.