Title: If You Could Be Mine
Author: Sara Farizan
Source: Received for review from Netgalley
Release Date: 8/20/2013
Description from Goodreads:
In this stunning debut, a young Iranian American writer pulls back the curtain on one of the most hidden corners of a much-talked-about culture.
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?
This book was received from the publisher for review via Netgalley.
I first learned about If You Could Be Mine while browsing Netgalley a few months ago. I thought it sounded interesting, so I requested it. And I’ve seen it around a bit more recently since the release date is quickly approaching. I don’t typically seek out books that take place in other countries or have LGBT themes, but I thought I’d give it a chance.
In the opening scene of If You Could Be Mine, we see a 6-year-old Sahar falling in love with her best friend, Nasrin, and deciding she wants to marry her. She tells her mother, who tells her to keep this to herself. They live in Iran, where it’s illegal to be a homosexual. Of course, at the beginning Sahar doesn’t consider herself gay; she just happens to be in love with her best friend, who is also a female.
Similarly to when I read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini last summer, I found If You Could Be Mine to be an interesting, though heartbreaking, look into a different culture. You always hear rumors of how strict the Middle East is, but seeing actual examples of it, even in such things as a woman’s hair or elbows showing, or what they are and aren’t allowed to see and hear in movies and music, was surprising to me. I was impressed, however, with their progressiveness in regards to transgendered people. I’ve heard a lot of controversy and doubts over whether this is a true condition in our society, so I really respected the fact that the Iranian government not only recognizes it but helps to pay for the sexual reassignment surgery.
I think where I struggled the most with If You Could Be Mine was in the characters. I found Nasrin to be spoiled, selfish, and just irritating. And because i found Nasrin to be so unlikable, Sahar’s obsession with her frustrated me. I mean, this is a 17-year-old girl seriously considering undergoing sex reassignment surgery, not because she’s transgendered, but because she believes it is the only way to stop the girl she loves from marrying someone else. It really was heartbreaking, but also frustrating. Sometimes I just wanted to smack Sahar and tell her to wake up, that Nasrin wasn’t worth it.
Overall, I enjoyed reading If You Could Be Mine. I found it interesting to learn a little more about the Iranian culture, even if it was a bit heartbreaking in the process. I wouldn’t say that it was life-changing for me, but it was definitely worth a read.