by Sara Farizan
Published: August 20th 2013
Publisher: Alqonquin Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Source: eARC from the publisher via Netgalley
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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?
If You Could Be Mine was a book I wanted to love and wanted to give five stars to but could not. The synopsis pulled me in - I looked forward to reading about Sahar and Nasrin's love for one another in the context of a culture I'm not familiar with. Most of all, I wanted to see if Sahar would end up changing her true self in the name of love.
Sahar was willing to risk her happiness for Nasrin and undergo a radical change (radical because she didn't truly identify as a male), but Nasrin didn't want to risk hers. I questioned their relationship throughout the story. It was obvious to me that Sahar was much more in love with Nasrin than the other way around.
Nasrin didn't want to leave her easy comfortable life behind; it was more important to her than love. I wasn't that invested in their relationship as a result. I didn't care for Nasrin - I thought she was spoiled, selfish, and undeserving of Sahar's love.
As a result, I became more interested in Sahar's cousin Ali's story. There was much more life to Ali than either Sahar or Nasrin, who fell flat for me. I think If You Could Be Mine had all kinds of potential to be a five star book, but with underdevelopment of the characters I was wanting to root for, their unequal relationship dynamic, and more interesting secondary characters, I was left wanting more.
The ending, however, was satisfying for me because it was realistic. I don't think it could have ended any other way and wouldn't have wanted it to.
This review is part of LGBT Month hosted by
Laura @ Laura Plus Books
Cayce @ Fighting Dreamer