10 Things I Hate about Me is a medium sized, fiction novel, about a Muslim teen, her family and friends, her high school experience, and her struggles as a Muslim in a non-Islamic environment where Western culture conflicts family and religious values. On the cover, you will notice a film strip with two pics of her with dyed, blond hair and blue eye contacts, and in the other two she is wearing a head scarf (khimar) with no eye contacts. The subtitle that goes with this image of her conflicting individual is "Who Am I? Jamie or Jamilah?" And that's just what the book is about. I think the main outcome of the story is kind of a dead giveaway.
If you don't want any spoilers, you probably shouldn't read the following.
Initially she starts out as a fake, trying to blend in with the crowd. Apparently, she's been "on a mission to de-wog" herself since the seventh grade (Abdel-Fattah 5). She avoids all confrontation at all costs because she doesn't want people to know about her Lebanese-Muslim background. So she fakes it, and pretends to be a white, blond, blue-eyed chick—the perfect Australian disguise.
Another precaution she takes to stay under the radar, is to never let her friends come over so they don't see "the Koranic inscriptions hanging on the walls, the argeela sitting in the hallway corner" or hear "the radio playing loudly in the background, sounding out Arabic folk songs," (Abdel-Fattah 262). In addition to her conforming behavior, she stays silent and nods halfheartedly when her classmate, Peter, insults another boy, Ahmed, of the same Lebanese-Muslim background.
In case you're curious as to what exactly this Peter jerk guy says, here is some paraphrasing:
"What a joke, huh, Jamie? Ahmed probably spends his weekends in a garage making bombs or training for a terrorist group. I'm glad the riots broke out. My dad told me that it's been a long time coming. He used to surf those beaches when he was younger. Sure, there were Italians and Greeks but there weren't too many, so you didn't notice and it was OK. But now the Lebs have invaded the beaches and it's not the same." (Abdel-Fattah 4-5).
Throughout the novel Jamie encounters various ordeals and endeavors that ultimately—yep, you guessed it—help her rediscover and accept her true self, Jamilah. For a long time, she lives a dual life—Jamie at school and work, and Jamilah at home and Arabic school. In the end, she learns to love and accept the people that actually care for her, including a friend she didn't know she could trust, another friend she almost didn't forgive, her dad, brother, and sister, and Ms. Sajda, her Arabic teacher.
This book made me cry at least a couple of times. I can relate to the father-daughter relationship she has where her father doesn't resonate with her and often times doesn't hear her out—but we still try to love them. It's reassuring to know I still have my mom—unlike Jamilah. I also understand what it's like to be discriminated against although I've never had it that bad, but close. In the novel, Jamie is asked out by Peter to the dance, but he's a jerk who likes her for all the wrong reasons. I've never been asked out directly, but I've had a guy obviously hint at the fact that he wanted me to go to the semi-formal (even though he knew nothing about me other than my name and that I speak French), another mentioning marriage, a ring and even living in a house together (during Tech class), and some unknown guys whistling from across the street and one of them sing "Hello from the other side, I must have called a thousand times" by Adele.
If I had to rate this book, it would be 3 1/2 stars. I didn't like how nonreligious most of the family was, but part of that made it realistic because the older sister was super religious and an activist in the community. So I would still recommend this book to other Muslims.
Well, hope that was helpful! Please leave a comment bellow and let me know what you think.