If You Could Be Mine

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3.3
 
4.5 (2)
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If You Could Be Mine
Author(s)
Age Range
13+
Release Date
August 20, 2013
ISBN
1616202513
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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 had before, 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?

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Non-Western and LGBT? Be Still, My Heart!
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
What I Liked:
If You Could Be Mine falls into two much-needed categories of YA: GLBT and non-white. As such, I really wanted to read it, and I'm glad I did. Farizan's debut has a fresh narrative voice, one that has a very non-western feel, while still being open and clear. Set in Iran, Farizan tackles first love, being different, friendship, and homosexuality with honesty and heart.

The plot of If You Could Be Mine, while not melodramatic or action-packed, is enthralling. I, for one, love being able to take a journey to another culture in my reading, something that I don't get to do enough. In my experience, a lot of the non-western novels I've read (generally aimed at adults) tend to be unremittingly depressing, but Farizan retains lighter moments and keeps the tone fairly bright while still capturing the restraints that Iranian society puts onto Sahar and Nasrin.

Sahar has loved Nasrin for over ten years, and wanted to marry her. Soon Sahar will be heading off to university, assuming she passes her exams, and Nasrin, who Sahar always hoped would wait for her, is marrying a young doctor. Feeling both betrayed and determined, Sahar would do anything to keep Nasrin with her, beautiful Nasrin who makes Sahar feel more special and confident just by returning her affection. Being homosexual is in Iran a serious crime, one punishable by death, but, for Nasrin, Sahar would risk anything; Nasrin is more practical and more used to a comfortable life.

Since Nasrin cannot be convinced to call the wedding off just for love of Sahar, other plans have to be made. Through her gay cousin Ali, Sahar meets a bunch of gay and transgender people living in Iran. Now, oddly, Iran embraces transgender people and even helps finance the gender reassignment surgeries. In this, Sahar sees hope. By changing who she is can she have everything that she wants? The fact that Sahar would alter herself this way when she has always felt like a woman, all of that for a girl, is startling and terrifying. The harsh laws of society make gender reassignment seem like the only solution to be able to remain with the person Sahar loves.

Farizan does all of this very well, because she keeps the book non-preachy. There's not really a sense of judgment. At most, there's disappointment in those who do not try for what they want, but that feeling of disappointment is aimed more at the unforgiving society than the people themselves. While everyone doesn't come out in a good light, perhaps none really do, no one is demonized either.

What Left Me Wanting More:
I think what held me back from loving and really connecting with If You Could Be Mine was Sahar. I sympathize with Sahar and her narrative voice fits her, but she's a bit...empty. Sahar's young and hasn't really developed to much of a self yet, having always been all about keeping Nasrin happy. She doesn't have an incredibly strong personality, and her desperate need to be with Nasrin, despite the fact that Nasrin had gotten engaged without telling her, was something which I really could not relate to in the least.

The Final Verdict:
An impressive debut, If You Could Be Mine tackles tough and unique subject matter with openness and a lack of judgment. Those looking for more YA set in other cultures and/or glbt YA must get their hands on this one.
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User reviews

2 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.5
Plot 
 
5.0  (2)
Characters 
 
4.0  (2)
Writing Style 
 
4.5  (2)
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Emotional LGBTQ Tale
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
This review can also be found at http://fortheloveofbooksreviews.blogspot.ca/2016/10/if-you-could-be-mine-by-sara-farizan.html



Sahar is in love with her friend, Nasrin. But there's a problem: they're both girls, and they live in Iran, where being gay can get you killed. Sahar has trouble imagining a life without Nasrin, so when Nasrin gets engaged she comes up with a drastic solution; become a man.

As Sahar struggles with the uncertainty of the future and the prejudice present in her society, she meets some new friends and spends time with her gay cousin, Ali. She forms a plan to stop Nasrin's marriage and hopes for a happily ever after, but she is unsure of whether she will go through with it.

I wasn't planning on reading this book because it sounded too sad for me, but my book club voted it as one of the books of the month, and it was in my library, so I picked it up. I can say that I was absolutely correct, this is an incredibly sad book. I struggled reading about all of the things that Sahar had to deal with and I did my best to prevent myself from crying while I read. However, at the end of the book, I did shed some tears.

The most striking thing about this novel, in my opinion, is how raw it is. Sahar's narration doesn't hold anything back, and reading about her hopes and fears was heartbreaking. I couldn't put the book down. This book isn't the type of thing that I usually read but I am so glad that I picked it up.

This story made me really stop and think. I thought about how lucky I am to live where I do, and reading about Sahar's situation made me so grateful that I have basic rights, which aren't really compromised due to my sexuality, as opposed to what she was facing. It also made me angry. Very, very angry that people have to live in places where they fear being jailed or even killed for who they are, and who they love. I feel like this book is a sort of call to action to readers, to look into what hardships LGBTQ people face in other countries, and maybe to consider helping them in whatever way possible.

Aside from the highly emotional aspect, Sahar's character was extremely likeable and she had a unique and memorable voice. She stuck out to me because of her struggles and her internal dialogue and narration, and I think that she was the perfect choice for a narrator. I feel that if Nasrin were narrating I might not feel the same connection, considering that some descriptions of her made her seem selfish or inconsistent.

I can't say much concerning the accuracy of the author's portrayal of the setting, however I can say that I found myself fully immersed in the story and setting and that it was easy to understand what was going on despite cultural differences, terms, et cetera. I understood the danger that Sahar faced in her country and the rules and regulations very easily, as the author explained them well through Sahar's voice.

While I recommend this book to anyone looking for emotional YA and LGBTQ books, I do want to say that I think that very sensitive readers might want to steer clear of this one. There are upsetting situations which could hit close to home for some people, and the theme of homophobia is rather dark considering the risk of violence and death.

As I mentioned, this book will be enjoyed by those looking for emotional YA and/or LGBTQ stories. If you're interested in a book that deals with being LGBTQ in a country where it's illegal to have same sex relationships, this book is for you.
Good Points
Emotional
Very raw and honest narration
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If You Could Be Mine
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
This is the kind of topic you see in shows like Taboo. This is the kind of book my mom would not be happy to find me reading. I don’t know about the laws of sex reassignment where I live but the issue of same-sex love is still kept under wraps. I’ve read my share of GLBT literature, but I’m still confused about this book.

The main theme would undoubtedly be being gay in a country where it is illegal to be gay. If anyone finds out about your sexual orientation, you’re dead. Seriously. As in you’d be hanging in the middle of town square with a thousand people looking at you and whispering to each other about the shame you have brought upon your family. This is not hard for me to imagine, things would probably take a similar turn in Pakistan (except for maybe the killing in town square part).

Kudos to Sara Farizan for coming up with such a brilliant plot. I would have given a higher rating if the execution had been just as good.

The weird thing is, I hated the two main characters of the story, Sahar and Nasrin. Sahar was an extremely negative character and it seemed as if she hated her partner most of the time. Nasrin, on the other hand, was selfish. Too spoiled to even think of losing the comforts life had provided her with.

I did like Sahar’s cousin Ali and her transsexual friend Parvin though. The characters in If You Could be Mine are very well fleshed out. Even the minor characters are very dimensional and not just flat fillers.

The ending was extremely realistic, thank God for that.

Final Words:
If You Could Be Mine is a book that had a lot of potential, and only a little of it was tapped. That said, it was interesting and wasn’t unrealistic at all. I sort of enjoyed it. Sort of.
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