Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.
So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.
Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?
If You Could be Mine is a beautiful, meaningful book, tackling an issue that needs more attention - homosexuality in the Middle East. This book deals with two lesbian girls in Iran coming to terms with the impossibility of their relationship as it is and it also touches on the acceptance of transsexualism in Iran and the availability of sex change operations. This book was well informed and so it was very believable, this made the story that bit more touching.
That being said, I really struggled to care about the romance because whilst I did sympathise with Sahar's suffering I absolutely despised Nasrin as a character - she was thoughtless, selfish and truthfully Sahar would have been far better off without her - more confident and happy about herself. I also felt like I didn't get to know Sahar as well as I would have liked as the focus was more on her suffering and her personal journey rather than the person she started out as.
Ali was a fantastic character in this book. He was clever and Sahar's admiration is so obvious for him that it manages to cloud the negative aspects f his character, but Parveen was an amazing character as well - she is the one who understands what Sahar really needs and supports her along the way, no matter what.
I felt that the conclusion of this book was a little sloppy - a lot of things started happening at once and I struggled to keep track and then BAM... it fizzles out. That being said, I liked the very ending with Sahar's life turning out well, it all worked out exactly as I would have liked it to.
Overall, If You Could Be Mine was an interesting and poignant journey into LGBT culture in the Middle East. However some parts of the execution were weak so this book is kind of just average for me.
Overall Rating: C
Book released 10th August 2013 by Alqonquin Young Readers
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (NetGalley)