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Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim

Skunk Girl

by Sheba Karim

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I misread the blurb for this and thought it was going to be a "young-adult Muslim-girl-dealing-with-being-a-Muslim girl WHO THEN finds out she's literally a wereskunk". I mean how cool would that have been? Alas the eponymous skunk girl is not to be taken literally after all so, despite this being a perfectly good "Pakistani Muslim girl deals with being a Pakistani Muslim girl in an American world" ya book, it couldn't fail but to disappoint me.


I did appreciate that she decided in the end that there were more important things than romance in her life; it just felt like this wasn't foreshadowed enough so it came across as pasted on. But this may have been because I was still confused by the lack of wereskunks. ( )
  zeborah | Sep 19, 2015 |
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. ( )
  pdbkwm | Sep 8, 2014 |
Nina is a typical teenage girl searching for her own identity and chasing after boys. This isn’t a normal coming of age novel because this girl is Pakistani Muslim. She not only has to deal with boy crushes, peer pressure, grades, and school, but also the pressure of her mother with following the responsibilities and traditions of being a Pakistani girl. ( )
  Backus2 | Oct 22, 2013 |
An interesting take on teen angst from a Muslim perspective, with an engaging narrator and a sympathetic portrayal of her strict but loving family. Unlike most mainstream American young adult novels, the narrator struggles to reconcile her own personal desires with the demands of her culture, and finds that sacrifice has its own rewards. This book would probably make a valuable addition to high school libraries, with its likable characters and balanced depiction of Islamic values. As a general read, however, it falters in some key spots. The narrator's sudden and radical burst of self-acceptance, the turning point of the plot, seems to come out of nowhere, and feels false. The ending, too, is a little pat. Overall, good but not great; will probably spark good discussion for students. ( )
  paperloverevolution | Mar 30, 2013 |
Do I think this book does a pretty good job of explaining what it's like to be a Pakistani Muslim female teen in America? From what little I know, yes. However, I think it is marred by the narrator's sudden change in personality at the end of the book. She suddenly gets super introspective which I found weird. ( )
  scote23 | Mar 30, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374370117, Hardcover)

If Nina Khan were to rate herself on the unofficial Pakistani prestige point system – the one she’s sure all the aunties and uncles use to determine the most attractive marriage prospects for their children – her scoring might go something like this:

+2 points
for getting excellent grades
–3 points for failing to live up to expectations set by genius older sister
+4 points for dutifully obeying parents and never, ever going to parties, no matter how antisocial that makes her seem to everyone at Deer Hook High
–1 point for harboring secret jealousy of her best friends, who are allowed to date like normal teenagers
+2 points for never drinking an alcoholic beverage
–10 points for obsessing about Asher Richelli, who talks to Nina like she’s not a freak at all, even though he knows that she has a disturbing line of hair running down her back

In this wryly funny debut novel, the smart, sassy, and utterly lovable Nina Khan tackles friends, family, and love, and learns that it’s possible to embrace two very different cultures – even if things can get a little bit, well, hairy.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:16 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Nina Khan is not just the only Asian or Muslim student in her small-town high school in upstate New York, she is also faces the legacy of her "Supernerd" older sister, body hair, and the pain of having a crush when her parents forbid her to date.

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