Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I first heard about Skunk Girl after a friend of mine posted the cover on Facebook. I thought it was funny and wondered if Skunk Girl was about a girl who smells. It isn’t. Instead, this is a book about a hairy Pakistani Muslim.
There are not that many books about Muslims out there, so once I saw this at the library, I wasted no time in picking it up. Was it everything that I wanted and more? Sadly, no. But I think this is due to my expectations for this novel. I originally thought it would be about a hairy Muslim teenager coping with Islam in a non-Islamic society. Let me explain: from the synopsis, we can see that she has a huge crush on Asher. She wants him, but in Islam we don’t date. We get married. So the challenges of being like everyone else while still trying to keep your religion in tact is something a lot of us face, and so, I was hoping to see that here.
Instead, this is mostly a story about a teen girl who has strict parents who constantly compare her to her older sister. She has a crush on a new guy who might just like her too. And she has hair…growing…everywhere.
Except that it’s not. There’s no real plot in this novel, just a series of events that are joined together. There are many conflicts that are presented, which are interesting, but they’re never really resolved. And by the end the novel, you’re left wondering, ‘Is that it?”
Even though Nina is one I can easily relate to, I just couldn’t like her or care about her. Wait, wait. I’m not saying this because she wanted to do things that were considered unIslamic. That’s normal for a girl her age. And it’s not that she did unIslamic things either. What I had a problem with was Nina’s interaction with the ‘mean girl’ Serena. Nina hates her and doesn’t hide it at all. Why? Because of an incident when they were kids. This made me sympathize with Serena and made me want to slap Nina a few times.
They do come to a sort of understanding, but the interactions between the two were clearly in Serena’s favour. Was this supposed to happen though? I don’t think so. I think we’re meant to root for Nina, but when it came to these two I just couldn’t.
There are some good points though. Nina’s parents, while strict, are not bad people, nor are they depicted that way. And Nina’s best friends are developed nicely as well. And I did like that Nina discovered a sort of balance at the end and that she learned from her mistakes, I just wish the journey to this was done better. And that Islam and her culture had a bigger role, instead of just being a means to restrict Nina’s freedom.
3 stars out of 5