TITLE : The Beauty Of Your Face
AUTHOR : Sahar Mustafah
GENRE : Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
FR RATING : ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 Stars)
DATE OF PUBLISHING : August 3rd 2020
DISCLAIMER : Thank you, Netgalley and Legend Press for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am leaving this review voluntarily.
The Beauty Of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah is a great book that talks about the journey of a Palestinian-American woman Afaf. The story is filled with wisdom, compassion, and grace. We follow Afaf through her different stages in life. We see Afaf struggling with her identity and her lack of self-esteem. Also, the neglect from her mom leads her down a path of bad decisions. In a time filled with personal struggles, she finds strength in faith. Her becoming closer to faith helps her tackle the issues slowly but surely. All of this is told through her memories as she listens to the progress of a terrorist attacking her school.
As we go through her memories we get to see a young girl who was initially happy and cheerful in her life. She then gets ignored by her mom and the sudden shift in her family dynamics leads her down a path of self-destructive behavior. Her goal is to be seen and not ignored anymore. However, she faces bigotry and racism from school. People of her community isolates her and treats her badly. She feels helpless and her lack of direction in life terrifies her. One visit to the mosque is all it takes to turn her life in the right direction. Her exploration of faith, loss, culture, and family is done with so much grace and wisdom.
I loved the story and how it took us through a journey. We saw Afaf, her life before the loss, and the aftermath as well. She reveals her most vulnerable self in the story making us care for her. I also loved how compassionate and forgiving she was towards people who have wronged her. I enjoyed the positive representation of faith and how finding solace in faith during some of the most difficult times in her life was portrayed. The life-altering moments in her life are filled with emotional upheavals and I could feel all of it. The book took me through a wide range of emotions. I loved Afaf’s character as well. The American Muslim experience was painted with a lot of authenticity and precision. The bigotry, racism, and Islamophobia all were realistically depicted.
The moments between the terrorist and Afaf felt too picture-perfect to be realistic because of the way their story concluded. I like to believe that it is possible but oftentimes you don’t see people who commit hate crimes to behave as the terrorist did. Other than that the story was wonderfully done. I loved the way the concept of mercy and compassion was employed but it was too picture-perfect to be realistic with our understanding of similar events.
This was an enjoyable read with an inspiring story of a woman who rose above her experiences and held strong and proud in the face of adversities. This story is poignant and beautiful and the authentic portrayal of the American Immigrant experience combined with the Muslim journey adds layers into the story and Afaf’s character. If you would love to read a good women’s fiction with a strong character and a beautiful story of love, family, and loss this one is the one for you. I gave the book 4 stars and highly recommend checking it out.
Afaf Rahman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, is the principal of Nurrideen School for Girls, a Muslim school in the Chicago suburbs. One morning, a shooter―radicalized by the online alt-right―attacks the school.
As Afaf listens to his terrifying progress, we are swept back through her memories: the bigotry she faced as a child, her mother’s dreams of returning to Palestine, and the devastating disappearance of her older sister that tore her family apart. Still, there is the sweetness of the music from her father’s oud, and the hope and community Afaf finally finds in Islam.
The Beauty of Your Face is a profound and poignant exploration of one woman’s life in a nation at odds with its ideals.