If You Could Be Mine
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: August 20th 2013
by HarperCollins Canada
In this stunning debut, a young Iranian American writer pulls back the curtain on one of the most hidden corners of a much-talked-about culture.
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?
-A copy was provided by HarperCollins Canada for review-
This was very different from anything I’ve read before. A very short book at only a little over 200 pages, If You Could Be Mine examines not only life in Iran, but life in Iran for a young girl in love with her best friend, Nasrin.
From a very young age, Sahar knew she wanted to many Nasrin and spend her whole life with her, they’ve been in a secret relationship for years now, and being found out could mean imprisonment – at the very least – for these two. This was my first book set in Iran and I found the culture and laws quite intimidating. Even though I’m not blind to what life is like in that country, especially for women, it was still shocking to find out the extent of it all that still exists to this day. For instance, a woman can get arrested, sent to prison to be raped and abused, all because she showed her elbow in public. This part of the story held my interest completely. I wish it had gone further in showing Iran, though; the beliefs and culture, the ways of life. I feel like the setting had so much untouched potential. Don’t get me wrong, the book does give off a decent feel of its country, it simply isn’t explored as much as it could have been – or as much as I was hoping, at least.
The main topic in this novel revolves around what it’s like to be gay in a country such as Iran, the dangers and obstacles that are encountered are appalling. As it’s against the law to have a relationship with the same sex, except if you get a sex change, sex changes are common amongst young and old. They’re even encouraged when someone finds themselves questioning their sexuality. Sahar thinks this is what she needs to do to get Nasrin to cancel her engagement. The love she has for this girl burns so intensely that it was almost unbearable at times. She was willing to throw her whole life away for a girl who doesn’t even seem to be on the same page. Not that I blame Nasrin either with laws and her family hanging over her head. She’s taking the easy road the majority would take. It’s an incredibly difficult situation; I felt sympathetic towards them both. Sahar is an especially likeable character with a sometimes sarcastic, always passionate personality. Nasrin burns with confidence and a happy, perfect life is all planned out, but we come to see her facade for what it is. A few side characters play a big part in this story as well, and become Sahar’s support group throughout. I enjoyed Ali the most, his god-like status amongst his people is kind of awe-inspiring and made me very much curious as to what he was up to. I’m a little disappointed that this part of the story was never really explained, however, other than a few assumptions made in passing. Though I understand that his story was meant to stay in the background. Maybe to lend a bit of an extravagant vibe while at it.
All in all, If You Could Be Mine is a quick read that has a surprising amount of character depth, an exceptionally unique premise, and a realistic ending that is greatly appreciated. I do feel like the story missed the oomph factor it needed to make it truly extraordinary. Even so, it’s one I predict I will not forget so easily.