Sahar, a teenage lesbian living in Iran, contemplates desperate measures when she learns the girl she loves is marrying a man.
Sahar has loved Nasrin since childhood. Nasrin swears she loves Sahar back, but she is rich, spoiled and unwilling to disappoint her mother, a combination that spells tragedy to readers even though Sahar remains poignantly hopeful. When Nasrin’s family announces her engagement to a doctor, Sahar is heartsick. Through her gay cousin Ali’s underground network, Sahar meets a woman named Parveen. Upon learning that Parveen is transsexual, Sahar hatches a scheme to transition herself, certain that Nasrin would marry her if she were a man. Gentle, unintrusive exposition clues readers into Iran’s political and social realities, and the characters’ choices about how to wear head scarves or how openly to talk about same-sex attractions are refreshingly and believably diverse. So too are the members of the transgender support group Sahar attends: The group has a broad enough range of experience that readers never get the message that transition itself is a mistake, only that it is the wrong choice for Sahar. Each character and relationship is kindly and carefully drawn, from Sahar’s sad, shut-down Baba to reckless, twinkling Ali.
A moving and elegant story of first love and family. (Fiction. 12-18)