17-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?
©2013 Sara Farizan. Published by arrangement with Algonquin Young Readers, an imprint of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, a division of Workman Publishing Company, Inc. (P)2013 HighBridge Company
"Refreshingly and believably diverse.... Each character and relationship is kindly and carefully drawn.... A moving and elegant story of first love and family." (Kirkus Reviews)
"A heartbreakingly beautiful story of first love.... The reader becomes part of Sahar and Nasrin's journey. We move through it with them with our heart in our hands." (Jacqueline Woodson, author of Beneath a Meth Moon)
"A book full to bursting with aching, haunting, beautiful questions." (Chris Lynch, author of Inexcusable)
I fairly enjoyed this book. I could understand the troubles that Sahar faced, and as a desperate 17 year old, I could appreciate the fact that the story was believable and not too far fetched. This book most definitely left me wanting to know more about where the two will end up. At the end, I felt like I had learned more about the LGBT community in other countries.
Sahar found herself willing to do almost anything to be with her best friend while Sahar's best friend Nasrin is comfortable in "playing nice" for her family and friends and only loving Sahar when they are alone. This story can be understood by anyone who's ever loved someone that they couldn't ever be with. Great story overall and I look forward to reading more from this author.
Nothing I love more than a well-rounded character and intense plot.
If You Could Be Mine is the story of two girls in Tehran who have been best friends since childhood. The protagonist, Sahar, is a very smart young woman on track for the top university in Iran. Nasrin is a spoiled rich girl whose parents are intend for her to marry as soon as she leaves high school. Neither of these situations is painted as unusual in Iranian society within the context of the book. Farizan clearly establishes the country's culture without it seeming intimidating or anti-Islam.
Negin Farsad's narration makes the story more emotionally resonant than I think it would be otherwise. Sahar spends a lot of time being angry about her situation (understandable), and defensive of her decision to pursue a sex change so she might marry Nasrin instead of her fiance. Farsad easily finds the essential nuances within that anger, creating strong, unwavering characters.
As the story is in first person singular, we don't see any of Nasrin's real feelings on the subject of her impending marriage beyond her outside behavior, and what she says to Sahar. I would have liked to know the complicated feelings going on in Nasrin's head as well; it surely could not have been easy to choose duty and a life of ease, or the love of your life.
Overall, I found If You Could Be Mine thoughtful and well-written, with fully developed characters and socially relevant storylines. I liked the insight into underground queer culture in Iran. I would have rather seen a sweet ending, or a bitter ending, rather than a bittersweet one, but I'm glad Sahar was able to make the choices she did.
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