Adult Books, Books by Muslim Authors, Diverse Books, Muslim Shelf Space

The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah – ARC Review

Thank you to Legend Press for this arc in exchange for an honest review.

This book was incredible and so poignant and just made me feel all the emotions. Highly recommend this book!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A Palestinian American woman wrestles with faith, loss, and identity before coming face-to-face with a school shooter in this searing debut.

A uniquely American story told in powerful, evocative prose, The Beauty of Your Face navigates a country growing ever more divided. Afaf Rahman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, is the principal of Nurrideen School for Girls, a Muslim school in the Chicago suburbs. One morning, a shooter—radicalized by the online alt-right—attacks the school.

As Afaf listens to his terrifying progress, we are swept back through her memories: the bigotry she faced as a child, her mother’s dreams of returning to Palestine, and the devastating disappearance of her older sister that tore her family apart. Still, there is the sweetness of the music from her father’s oud, and the hope and community Afaf finally finds in Islam.

This is such a profound book, a book where I felt so seen on so many levels. What it means to be a child of immigrants. Of parents who left everything and everyone behind to try to start a new life where their children will be safe but how they have to still battle, it’s just a different type of battle. One of having to prove you are not stupid, one where you have to watch people sexualise you based on the colour of your skin, where you are treated less because of it.

It was a book I could relate to being a child of parents and grandparents who moved from their home countries to the west to try and build a better life for their kids. The conflicting feelings of a child from two worlds not knowing where they fit in, not enough for either their family culture or of living in the west spoke to me deep in my soul. This whole book was something I felt deep in my soul, how Afaf is lost as a teen and then slowly finds her path and her faith and how it anchors her and gives meaning to her life was so beautiful to read.

Most of the story is exploring Afaf’s life growing up and her finding her faith until we meet the adult Afaf that is headteacher of an Islamic Girls School. We see what she feels and thinks as there is a shooter terrorising the school and she is stuck in the prayer room. We also see a little from the shooters point of view and how his blind hatred lead him to murdering innocent teenage girls. He didn’t even once try to understand who they were, he found it unacceptable that they were “different” because of their religion so therefore a threat. It’s something we still see today, something that I have experienced, something I see happen to those around the world.

I think it’s such an important book for people to read, it shows how complicated it is being an immigrant, trying to fit into a place that doesn’t really want you there, that thinks you are less because of the colour of your skin. To see how blind hatred can cause so much death and destruction. This book is such an important and relevant book and I really need you all to read it.

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