cover image Ten Things I Hate About Me

Ten Things I Hate About Me

Randa Abdel-Fattah, . . Scholastic/Orchard, $16.99 (297pp) ISBN 978-0-545-05055-5

Jamilah Towfeek hides her Lebanese-Muslim background from the other kids at her Australian school “to avoid people assuming I fly planes into buildings as a hobby.” She dyes her hair blonde, wears blue contacts and stands by when popular kids make racist remarks. Passing as “Jamie” is fraught with difficulties: she can't invite friends to her house, lies to cover up her widower dad's strict rules and reveals her true self only to an anonymous boy she meets online (her e-mail address is “Ten_Things_I_Hate_About_Me”). Tensions at home and school culminate when the band she plays in at her madrassa (Islamic school) is hired to perform at her 10th-grade formal. Abdel-Fattah (Does My Head Look Big in This? ) follows a predictable pattern and uses familiar devices, such as the understanding teacher (“If [your friends] don't know the real you, then you've already lost them”). On the other hand, the author brings a welcome sense of humor to Jamilah's insights about her culture, and she is equally adept at more delicate scenes, for example, Jamilah's father recounting memories of Jamilah's mother. For all the defining details, Jamilah is a character teens will readily relate to. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)