Published by Alqonquin Young Readers on 20 August 2013
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT
Ever since she was six years old, Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin. The two girls spend a lot of time together, and as they get older, Nasrin confesses her feelings for Sahar as well. In Iran, homosexuality is not allowed, and if found out the people involved will be executed by hanging.
As Nasrin plans her wedding to a man, on her parents demand, Sahar does everything in her power both to stop the wedding, and to keep Nasrin to herself.
*I received a free ARC of If You Could Be Mine from Algonquin Young Readers via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*
If You Could be Mine is a very sweet story about two young Iranian women. They have known each other their whole lives, as their mothers were best friends as well. When they were six years old, Sahar realized she really loved Nasrin, and she even told her mother. Her mother quietly told her never to speak of that again, and that this is just not natural at all. When Sahar’s mother dies and she finds herself alone with her father, she spends a lot of time studying, because she wants to be able to go to university to become a doctor. At the same time, her relationship with Nasrin has changed a little. Sahar and Nasrin are exploring their feelings in a very tentative and sweet way. They are both completely inexperienced, but they kiss and touch each other, and they like the feelings that makes them have.
Sahar’s life is more turned upside down when Nasrin tells her, in front of her whole family, that she is getting married in six months. Sahar is devastated at first, and tries her best to find a way to save her relationship with Nasrin, even if they could both be publicly hanged if anyone accused them of being homosexual. Sahar knows how hard it is to live a good life all the while having feelings about someone you are not supposed to have those kinds of feelings for. She also knows this because her cousin is homosexual, and he does not always hide it. Sahar realizes this when she goes to a party at his house, especially when she understands that the young woman who came to take her to the party used to be a young man. This is where If You Could be Mine takes a different turn.
Sahar realizes she might have the solution to her problem. Nasrin doesn’t understand that they will not be able to see each other after her wedding, because Sahar does not want to add infidelity to her list of crimes. Sahar therefore starts to conspire to see if she might be able to get the surgery needed in order to become a man. If Sahar is a man, she will be free to love Sahar. And in Iran, being born in the wrong body is not a crime, only loving someone of your own gender is. However, trying to figure out the best way to get what she most wants in life is not an easy path at all, especially when Sahar sees that she really feels quite good being a woman, and that she might not if she were to change into a male body.
The writing is good, but a little hesitant. I also thought the main characters were very naive, which might very well be exactly how seventeen-year old girls would be in Iran – but it made it a little difficult for me to really ‘get’ them. The story is strong, and I think the subject matter is very important! The way it is handled is well done, and I really felt bad for Sahar. She was thinking about giving up even her identity and her body for love – and it is almost scary to think that she could have gotten away with it.
I recommend If You Could be Mine to readers who want to read about a tender love story of forbidden love. Especially because I think love among consenting adults should never be wrong.