Thursday, August 15, 2013

YA Book Review - If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

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Every time I go to BEA (BookExpo America) I come out with an unfathomable pile of books to read, but within those piles there are a few titles that scream to be pulled first. This year If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan was one of those books.

About The Book 

I first heard about If You Could Be Mine in the YA Editor Buzz Panel on May 30, 2013. Elise Howard from Algonquin Books began her presentation with the following compelling factoid:
Many people are aware that, in Iran, it's a crime to be gay. In fact, it is a crime that is sometimes punishable by death. What they're usually a little shocked to find out, though, is that gender reassignment is not only legal, it's supported by the state medical system.
This is a pivotal point of introduction to this book because it underlines the conflict at the core of If You Could Be Mine. In Farizan's debut novel, her protagonist, Sarah, is seventeen years old, living in Iran and in love with her best friend, Nasrin. Both Sarah and Nasrin think they have found a way to move forward in their lives while keeping their love intact. Written in the first person, from Sarah's perspective, this book is a heart-break from page one, being that universal story of love that you can't have.

My Review

I enjoyed so many aspects of this book. First of all, it is always refreshing to read an ethnically diverse protagonist, but this book delivers an entirely Iranian cast in a book set in present day Iran. It was interesting to see the places where Iran and the Western culture collide and to read Sarah's perspective of Western culture. I was frustrated by Sarah's misguided attempt to keep Nasrin's love, but could completely understand how a teenager in Iran might seek this route as a viable solution. In reading other reviews I have seen a couple of people complain about how Sarah spoke about Nasrin (i. e. calling her a "spoiled brat") and claiming that, in their eyes, it did not echo the sentiment that Sarah loved Nasrin. I disagree. I did not read these comments in a way that felt insulting. It felt more like a sign that she knew her best friend very well and loved her - faults and all. Sarah's cousin, Ali, is a fun and dangerous character that always lifted up a scene whenever he showed up, and Sarah's father, Baba was a sad and compassionate man that I truly felt for.

In the world of YA LGBT books, I think If You Could Be Mine is an important read. LGBT teens come from all different cultures and families with varying beliefs or systems of ethics based on where they come from, some stricter than others. This continues to echo the diversity of the rainbow that we so appropriately use to represent the LGBT community.

Whether you typically read LGBT or not, I think you should check out If You Could Be Mine as it raises many questions about the struggles and sacrifices that come along with love, patriotism, family and self-preservation. It is a quick read and though Sara Farizan says she does not want to be the authority on the going-ons in the Iranian LGBT culture, she is at least giving us a sneak peek.

If You Could Be Mine ARC GIVEAWAY!!

I finished my advanced reader copy (ARC) of If You Could Be Mine and I'm ready to share it with another willing reader - is that you? If so, use the widget below to enter. (This giveaway is open to the US only.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! 


  1. I recall this book coming up during a Twitter chat and it looked interesting.

  2. I imagine the book does have a fair amount of buzz. It will be released officially next week.

  3. Sounds like an interesting read! (Makes me want to re-read Persepolis. Have you ever read that or seen the movie?)

  4. We just bought Persepolis. Somehow we missed out on that month of our Graphic Novel Book Club. It has been on my to-read list for a much longer time than that, though, because Persepolis is part of the graphic novel "canon" along with MAUS. :)