If You Could Be Mine: A Novel

Sara Farizan
This Forbidden Romance Could Cost Them Their LivesWinner of the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Children’s/Young Adult Winner of the Publishing Triangle’s Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction and the Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction One of Rolling Stone’s 40 Best YA Novels A 2014 ALA Rainbow List Top 10 Title 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. So they carry on in secret until Nasrin’s parents suddenly announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution: 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. Sahar will never be able to love Nasrin in the body she wants to be loved in without risking their lives, but is saving their love worth sacrificing her true self? “Sharp and moving.” —The Boston Globe “Beautifully crafted . . . Offers timely insight into the struggles of those who must be their authentic selves no matter where they live.” —Ms. Magazine “Accomplished and compassionate.” —Booklist, starred review


Reviewed: 2016-11-22

Literature is fraught with characters who are caught in a forbidden love web.  If You Could Be Mine by Sarah Farizan spins Sahar and Nasrin, the novel’s star-crossed late teens, in a sticky mesh that is interlaced with homophobia, gender, Islam, politics, and sexuality.  The plot is simple. Sahar(girl) loves Nasrin (girl), Nasrin loves Sahar, but Nasrin’s arranged betrothal to Reza, physician, dampers the “happily ever after” narrative.  The news, puts Sahar in a tailspin, as she mulls over scenarios that will keep their relationship intact.   In Iran, homosexuality is a deviant behavior, therefore condoned by both sacred and secular law. If an individual feels that the body does not match the mind, then sex reassignment surgery is acceptable because the person is not responsible for nature’s mistake.  Like in the film, Inception, once Sahar arrives at the idea of surgery, it consumes the desperate teen. As the novel progresses, Sahar meets people who don’t supply her with the liquid courage she needs to actually have the surgery.  Instead she receives consternation.  To further complicate the situation, Sahar does not reveal to Nasir of her plans, and secondly, Nasrin’s appears unperturbed by her arranged marriage because marrying a doctor keeps her in relative comfort and her social respectability undamaged.  As the narrator, we are privy to the psychologically tsunami Sahar is positioned in. She is alienated by the other people, except by Ali, her gay cousin and Parveen, a transgendered woman who provides morsels of wisdom to the forlorn Sahar.  At the end, Sahar learns that the new Mrs’s is six months pregnant, and this bitter news provides her the reality check that she needs.  Symbolically, like the new life that Nasrin is carrying, Sahar is provided with an opportunity for a new life so that she is able to value herself emotionally and physically.


Mine is a novel for an upperclassmen ELA course or World Cultures course.  Although a tenth grader read Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as part of a rite of initiation into high school text, she/e do not possess the maturity to handle the internationality, homosexuality, and religion combination.  For the latter course, it will provide a student a social understanding, via a fictionalized-literary lens, of what a Muslim who is also a lesbian will go through in order for love. Finally, Sarah Farizan is both Muslim and bisexual, which gives the novel’s perspective even more legitimacy and authenticity.     

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