Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim

Friday, January 8, 2010

Book Summary from Skunk Girl bookjacket

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.

I had high hope for this novel when I read the jacket blurb, and while I did find Karim’s writing flawless and the insights into the Muslim culture seen through the eyes of Nina, the story’s narrator, eye opening and even humorous, I am afraid I found the story long and the conflict monotonous. I really had a hard time plowing through Nina’s struggle to cope with her need to fit in with the American high school culture, which clashed so dramatically with what her Pakistani parents’ expectations. In the first 150 of the 231 pages Nina pines after Asher, a new boy who starts dating Serena, her nemesis and the “antonym” (blonde, blue-eyed and breasty) of Nina (dark-skinned, hairy and flat-chested). As I continued to read I really hoped that the point of the book would be worth the time it took me to read it. At the end, the only thing I was satisfied with was that I actually finished the book.

Rating: 2 Cherries

3 Delicious Comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if maybe this could be for a younger crowd. While Nona, my 13 year-old didn't think it rated at a 5/5 level, she did like it. Of course, she is like her mother and tends to rate on the high I didn't read it. I couldn't warm up to the blurb. I don't usually like books like this either...not normally. I probably would have felt as you did.

Melissa Sarno said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I like the hook on the bookjacket. It sounds like a book I'd want to read. Sorry to hear it doesn't live up to the expectations. I look forward to browsing more of your blog to see what you and your students are reading!

Uread said...

The skunk Girl comes across as a light hearted, humorous account of the life of a teenaged girl, who, like most of the South Asian girls, has to lead a restricted life, face the usual teenage dilemma over looks.
Sheba Karim has attempted a praise worthy approach towards the young adult genre of book writing. For a debut, the skunk Girl is the perfect choice that she has made.

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