The book, to be published later this month, narrates the story of Amal, a 16-year-old Australian Muslim girl who decided to wear the Hijab, or the Islamic headscarf, when she was at secondary school. Although Amal's bold decision shocked her parents and friends, she remained determined to wear the Hijab because it gave her a sense of inner calm.
The author of the book, Randa Abdel-Fattah, 26, who grew up in Melbourne, based the novel on her own experience as a Muslim teenager who decided to wear Hijab between the ages of 14 and 17. "I wanted to debunk the myths about Muslims, and particularly about Muslim women. Muslim women and girls are often looked at as aliens. They are greatly misunderstood," she said.
"I wanted to write a book that allowed readers to enter the world of the average Muslim teenage girl and see past the headlines and stereotypes. "There has been a shocking lack of books that tell the story of what it's like to grow a Muslim teenager." The book shows the hostility that Amal faces as well as the misconceptions that she was forced to wear the Hijab and that it wasn't a decision she made on her own.
Ms Abdel-Fattah, a lawyer from Sydney of Palestinian-Egyptian origin, says: "I experienced a lot of racism and prejudice when I used to wear the hijab and once my head scarf was pulled from the back of my head. The most frequent taunt would be 'go back where you came from'. There was often an assumption that I could not be Australian because I was wearing the hijab. There was an assumption that I must be Middle Eastern or a terrorist.
Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
The book also covers the usual teenage problems such as rebellion, eating disorders, spots, smoking and alcohol. "Muslim teenagers have said to me that it is the only book they have found that tells the story of normal teenage life as well as being about a Muslim," she said.
"When I first started trying to find an agent for my book and explained it was about a Muslim teenager the question I would be constantly asked was - is there an honor killing in it? Every time you read a book about Muslims it's always either about the Saudi royal family, the Taliban or an honor killing. This is about the average Muslim experience and being a normal teenager."