Thursday, January 22, 2009

Towelhead by Alicia Erian



Despite the incendiary title, this novel was more like a modern day version of Lolita than anything else. Thirteen year old Jasira moves in with her extremely strict Lebanese father after her mother feels threatened by her daughter's sensual effect on older men. Things go from bad to worse for Jasira as she struggles to accept her father's isolating attitude, racist remarks from classmates because of her mixed heritage and her black boyfriend, an inappropriate relationship with her next door neighbor and just plain old adolescent angst.


I felt so horrible for poor Jasira throughout this entire book - I mean, the kid has no awareness about her growing sexuality, her awful father is emotionally vacant and physically abusive, she confuses rape with a warped perception of love and on top of all that, she gets picked on because of her ethnicity. Though the book *does* have a happy ending, it comes at a really depressing cost. The only shining light in this kind of bleak novel is Jasira's positive and loving relationship with a female neighbor, who's like the only person that actually cares about the kid.


Overall, a good read, but mildly depressing. The film version of it came out in 2008 and I'd be curious to see how they could pull it off (Aaron Eckhart from Thank You For Smoking plays the creepy neighbor)

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