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The Beauty of Your Face: A Novel de Sahar…
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The Beauty of Your Face: A Novel (edição: 2020)

de Sahar Mustafah (Autor)

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888237,609 (3.97)Nenhum(a)
Membro:ArtificialClimax
Título:The Beauty of Your Face: A Novel
Autores:Sahar Mustafah (Autor)
Informação:WW Norton (2020), 272 pages
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The Beauty of Your Face de Sahar Mustafah

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Mostrando 1-5 de 8 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
The Beauty of Your Face is the debut novel of prize-winning short-story writer Sahar Mustafah. It describes a brutal shooting at a Muslim school in the Chicago suburbs – the Nurrideen School for Girls – a tragic event which climaxes with a tense confrontation between the alt-right shooter and the school’s principal Afaf Rahman.

The story of the shooting, presented over a series of short chapters spread throughout the novel, provides a frame for a much more interesting narrative – an account of Afaf’s life and what led her to her current place in life. We learn of her upbringing in the 1970s as the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, we witness the casual racism she has to face on a daily basis when growing up, the loss of her bearings during her adolescence and youth, and her eventual return to Islam (including her decision to start wearing a hijab) in the footsteps of her father, a “born-again” Muslim. Some of the more poignant chapters describe the widespread mistrust and harassment which the protagonists face in the aftermath of 9/11, and their pain at being branded not only as “different” but as “terrorists” simply because of their religious practices and the colour of their skin.

From a purely literary perspective, the novel is hardly groundbreaking. There are no technical shenanigans and no formal experiments. However, it is still a significant book because it presents us with a perspective with which many readers might be unfamiliar – that of an intelligent, contemporary Palestinian-American woman, who is also a devout, committed Muslim. Afaf’s story is told in flowing, limpid, unfussy prose but there is much attention to detail which helps to convey a vibrant picture of Arab culture.

Although hardly a “theological” book (there is little talk of God or of religious dogma), issues of faith and belief loom large in The Beauty of Your Face. As a Catholic who sometimes reads novels with religious themes, I feel that many contemporary Christian novels – especially when meant for “mainstream” readership – tend to deal mainly with doubt, loss of faith or the darker aspects of religion. There is nothing wrong with that, of course, as these are part of the spiritual experience. Yet, I found it refreshing to read a novel which, overall, projects a much more positive view of religious practice. Although in our secular times “organised religion” is often a term of suspicion (even amongst a wide cross-section of believers), this novel shows how “organised religion” can act as a force for good, if anything by providing the support of community, nurturing identity and belonging, and giving certain individuals (as in the case of Afaf and her father) a sense of direction in life. I found this a very uplifting theme, and one which I could connect with even if I do not share the protagonists’ beliefs and life-choices.

The Beauty of Your Face tackles big ideas, but ultimately, what is most engaging about it is the fact that it is also a very intimate family drama, about characters who try to find love and meaning even in distressing circumstances. Sahar Mustafah is herself the daughter of Palestinian immigrants to the US, and the story she tells brims with authenticity.

https://endsoftheword.blogspot.com/2020/07/the-beauty-of-your-face-by-sahar-must... ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Mar 5, 2021 |
I was hesitant to start this book because I was nervous about the school shooting plot aspect which is still hard to read, but the rest of this book was incredibly difficult to put down. I finished it in one day.
I do love generational stories so I was already drawn in by that aspect, but the writing and the way the story was told was so real and vivid. I enjoyed the dialect, although without some prior knowledge of Middle Eastern culture/foods I would have spent a lot more time looking things up, but I think that really added to the authentic feel of the story.

I did feel like I was left hanging with the Nada storyline. For most of the book, I wondered if I skipped a page or missed something because it felt incomplete and then at the end I still felt that way. I had way more questions for the Nada storyline, then Afar meeting the shooter at the end, however, I think that is because we had the shooter's point of view.
Overall, this was one of the books that keeps you up turning the pages late at night an neglecting other things to find out more about Afar and a glimpse into her world.
Thanks to Netgalley for a providing me a copy of this title in exchange for my honest review. ( )
  sunshine608 | Feb 2, 2021 |
Afaf, the principal of a Muslim school for girls, is shocked and frozen when she hears gunfire and the screams of her students. As she listens, the book alternates to a young Afaf and her experiences growing up in America. A daughter of Palestinian immigrants, Afaf feels as if she is torn between two worlds, unable to fit into either of them. When her older sister goes missing, things quickly unravel with her parents.

This was a compelling and well written book. The alternating story lines worked very well together. It was interesting reading about Afaf's experiences growing up and the turmoil her family faced. I would love to read more from this author. Overall, highly recommended. ( )
  JanaRose1 | Oct 9, 2020 |
The Beauty of Your Face is the debut novel of prize-winning short-story writer Sahar Mustafah. It describes a brutal shooting at a Muslim school in the Chicago suburbs – the Nurrideen School for Girls – a tragic event which climaxes with a tense confrontation between the alt-right shooter and the school’s principal Afaf Rahman.

The story of the shooting, presented over a series of short chapters spread throughout the novel, provides a frame for a much more interesting narrative – an account of Afaf’s life and what led her to her current place in life. We learn of her upbringing in the 1970s as the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, we witness the casual racism she has to face on a daily basis when growing up, the loss of her bearings during her adolescence and youth, and her eventual return to Islam (including her decision to start wearing a hijab) in the footsteps of her father, a “born-again” Muslim. Some of the more poignant chapters describe the widespread mistrust and harassment which the protagonists face in the aftermath of 9/11, and their pain at being branded not only as “different” but as “terrorists” simply because of their religious practices and the colour of their skin.

From a purely literary perspective, the novel is hardly groundbreaking. There are no technical shenanigans and no formal experiments. However, it is still a significant book because it presents us with a perspective with which many readers might be unfamiliar – that of an intelligent, contemporary Palestinian-American woman, who is also a devout, committed Muslim. Afaf’s story is told in flowing, limpid, unfussy prose but there is much attention to detail which helps to convey a vibrant picture of Arab culture.

Although hardly a “theological” book (there is little talk of God or of religious dogma), issues of faith and belief loom large in The Beauty of Your Face. As a Catholic who sometimes reads novels with religious themes, I feel that many contemporary Christian novels – especially when meant for “mainstream” readership – tend to deal mainly with doubt, loss of faith or the darker aspects of religion. There is nothing wrong with that, of course, as these are part of the spiritual experience. Yet, I found it refreshing to read a novel which, overall, projects a much more positive view of religious practice. Although in our secular times “organised religion” is often a term of suspicion (even amongst a wide cross-section of believers), this novel shows how “organised religion” can act as a force for good, if anything by providing the support of community, nurturing identity and belonging, and giving certain individuals (as in the case of Afaf and her father) a sense of direction in life. I found this a very uplifting theme, and one which I could connect with even if I do not share the protagonists’ beliefs and life-choices.

The Beauty of Your Face tackles big ideas, but ultimately, what is most engaging about it is the fact that it is also a very intimate family drama, about characters who try to find love and meaning even in distressing circumstances. Sahar Mustafah is herself the daughter of Palestinian immigrants to the US, and the story she tells brims with authenticity.

https://endsoftheword.blogspot.com/2020/07/the-beauty-of-your-face-by-sahar-must... ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Sep 12, 2020 |
Afaf Rahman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, is the principal of the Muslim Nurrideen School for Girls when a shooter attacks. Interspersed with this plot are many flashbacks to Afaf’s growing up in the suburbs of Chicago. Hers is not an easy childhood or adolescence; she is an outcast at school and finds little solace at home because her family is shattered after a tragic event. Much of her life is spent trying to find her identity and acceptance.

The novel addresses the challenges of being a Muslim in the United States. Though the family is not religious, they encounter discrimination regularly. Afaf “tried hard her whole life to be like amarkan, only to be rejected and used.” After 9/11, Muslims went “from towel-heads to terrorists” and Afaf is concerned about her safety and that of her family. Of course the attack on the school emphasizes the dangers Muslims face.

In many ways, the book is a journey of self-discovery. Afaf is largely estranged from her family after a tragedy. Her father finds solace in alcohol. Her unhappy mother, who has never adapted to life in America and wants to return to Palestine, suffers from mental health problems and seems unable to connect with Afaf. Because she is not accepted by her peers at school, she desperately longs for love and attention. After a traumatic near-death accident, Baba finds comfort in Islam and he urges his children to go with him to the Islamic Community Center. There Afaf finds acceptance. “a sense of community; the first time, really, she’d felt she truly belonged anywhere.”

Included in the novel are many details about Arab culture and the Islamic faith. Arabic food is often mentioned; I wish there were an appendix with recipes for the various dishes that are mentioned but not explained, dishes like “mahshi koosa” and “maklooba” and “chicken musakhan” and “fatayir”. I knew about the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca to fulfill one of the sacred pillars of Islam, but I was unaware of the various rituals performed, other than walking around the Kaaba.

At one point Afaf decides she will wear a hijab. From a woman’s perspective, I found her decision an interesting one. “Beneath the hijab, it’s still her. And yet a great deal of Afaf is gone, hidden, never to be revealed again in public, and then only in the presence of women. A pang of something tragically permanent goes through her gut.” She realizes the hijab comes with a price: “Is this concealment a high price to pay for her submission to God? She’ll no longer feel the Illinois winter rushing through her hair, tingling her ears as she leaves the apartment. Or the sun beating down on her head when she goes for walks with Baba along the waterfront, her scalp warm and moist with sweat. Afaf will miss her hair, the way it completes her face.” She is also aware of how Americans will think: “And what of her hijab? Do they imagine Afaf’s father or brother, swarthy and dangerous men, had forced it on her? Behind her back do they whisper, Poor Afaf, another oppressed Arabian woman?"

There are two elements in the novel which left me unsatisfied. One is Nada’s storyline. Nada, Afaf’s older sister, deals with the family situation differently than Afaf, but her story is not sufficiently developed. The other weak element is the perspective of the shooter. He seems little more than a stock character: a white man radicalized by online alt-right sites.

This is a timely novel which offers an interesting perspective, a perspective that might give people pause to think.

Note: I received a digital galley from the publisher via NetGalley.

Please check out my reader's blog (https://schatjesshelves.blogspot.com/) and follow me on Twitter (@DCYakabuski). ( )
  Schatje | Aug 5, 2020 |
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