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Book Review: You’re Not Proper by Tariq Mehmood

Published 19th March 2015 by Hope Road Publishing.

You're Not ProperGoodreads Synopsis: Karen thinks she’s not proper white.
Her dad is Pakistani and her mother is white Christian, and somehow she feels as if she doesn’t quite fit in… anywhere. So she’s made a choice: she’s switching sides.
Karen’s going to convert to Islam to find her true identity.
But Shamshad, her Hijab-wearing school mate, isn’t making things easy for her. What’s her deal, anyway? Is Shamshad really any more proper than herself?
Trouble and turmoil await in the old textile mill town of Boardhead East, as school battles are replaced by family troubles, name calling turns to physical confrontation and cataclysmic secrets are unveiled.
Set against a backdrop of seething Islamaphobia, You’re Not Proper is the first in the Striker series, written by Tariq Mehmood to shine a light on issues of identity, religion, politics and class affecting young people today – a unique new series in young adult fiction.

My Review: I was curious to see what this book would be like, as I can’t say I’ve read many books on the same subject; and Islamaphobia is a really prevalent topic in today’s world. I was really interested to see how it was written about here!

I loved the concept of the story and I wish books like this were more talked about. The plot of You’re Not Proper was a complete emotional roller-coaster, as Karen is so desperate to find faith and belonging in a pretty divided Manchester community. I found it really eye-opening to read about the harsh treatment of people because of their backgrounds – even from their peers.

The pacing felt a little strange at points, and I’m not sure how to describe it. I felt like some scenes felt rushed where they could’ve been longer and more descriptive of the narrator’s feelings. The switching narratives between Karen and Shamshad were great and I found the girls both really realistic and I wish I’d gotten to know their mindsets a bit better.

The plot twist towards the end of the story was really unexpected and made a really interesting ending. There’s careful hinting throughout the novel as to some kind of family secret – but the truth was far more shocking than I’d imagined! Very quickly, the story spirals from bullying to a really dark outcome – which in turn reveals the huge secret. It was a little strange how the final events played out – I would’ve preferred to see how everything developed.

Overall, You’re Not Proper is a really thought-provoking read and I enjoyed it! I definitely recommend it for those who want a brilliant, relatable insight into what it’s like to be a teenager and Muslim in a place where it’s often frowned upon. I had a few thoughts while reading it and would’ve liked to get to know the characters in more detail, and the ending didn’t feel completely solid to me – however, it’s a short and enjoyable read that’ll definitely make you tear up a few times!

My Rating:

three

I received a copy of You’re Not Proper from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

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