Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Skunkgirl Sheba Karim

Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim 15yr old Nina Khan is Pakistani Muslim girl who wants to obey her parents and have a little fun. The Khan's live in Deer Hook, a small town in upstate New York. Nina is not looking forward to junior year thanks to strict parents and older sister Sonia, the genius. She thinks this year to be a lot of SAT prep work and no parties on the weekend. Some YA second generation Americans books fall into a cliche trap. Where the main character must excel in academics, with strict parents they hate and a one dimensional story line In this debut novel Karim finds a beautiful balance avoiding the predictable. Nina is a very good student but her grades are never mentioned. She doesn't like all her parents rules but doesn't hate them for it. Karim doesn't portray the parents has strict and unfeeling, she remembers to show their softer side. Nina embraces who she is and is not ashamed of being a Pakistani Muslim. I also love that the author took the time to fully develop Nina's best friends Bridget and Helena with distinguishable personalities. Through their friendship we learn more about Nina, who is fun, smart and hairy. When puberty hits Nina hair follicles go into over drive.

"One, morning freshman year I woke up and was covered in hair. The hair was in vary degrees of thickness and density. I fell asleep a human and woke a gorilla."

Nina dubs herself skunk girl, after Asher, the boy she likes notices a strip of hair running down the center of her back. Skunk girl was a very fun read filled with a lot of laugh out loud moments. March 31 is the scheduled release date.
More on Skunk Girl


Color Online said...

Must have this. Do check out the Around The Globe Challenge at Color Online.

Have you read Born Confused or Does My Head Look Big In This? I enjoyed both and didn't think the characters were flat. Predictable elements even including some stereotypes don't necessarily turn me off provided the writer provides enough twists, provides insights or points I didn't know and a fresh voice.

As always, your review rocks.

Anonymous said...

Really, how do you have time to read and review so many books?? I think I'm doing something with 2 reviews/month!

Anonymous said...

I also really enjoyed this book and hope it reaches a wide audience. White kids have got to stop just reading about other white kids--it seems to me that books like this one would be a good place to start addressing a lot of race and ethnicity issues among teens. On the other hand, at my old store for example, we did not bring the book in because it was a hardcover and we knew it would be a hard sell. I will be bringing it in at the new store though, because our neighborhood has a lot of people studying library science or teen fiction in some way.

Anyway, I agree that many second-generation American books fall flat in terms of character and plot development in service of the greater whatever, and this one did not. Good pick!

Terry Doherty said...

This sounds like a great story ... we need more books that break the stereotypes. Bookavore's point really brought THIS book's value home for me: "White kids have got to stop just reading about other white kids--it seems to me that books like this one would be a good place to start addressing a lot of race and ethnicity issues among teens."

Color Online said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Color Online said...

I just finished Skunk Girl. Loved it. Doret's right about: Karim does a great job of showing a balanced view of culture for those who are not part of the culture. Yes, her parents are strict but not unfeeling. Yes, social mores and culture are different but one is not touted better than the other.

I think Western readers should try to avoid measuring differences based our own culture and experiences. America isn't the standard by which everything should be judged.

Nina is Pakastani and American. I like that while she is conflicted, she ultimately doesn't feel she has to reject one culture over the other. She begins to trust to herself to define what it means to be herself.

Uread said...

one of hell of an amazing read. made me get into splits. One nice thing about Sheba Karim is this that the protagonist in her book is not trying to gain sympathy or become a bag of misery. She accepts these changes the way they occur to her. Impressive writing and hilarious to the core.