Ten Things I Hate About MeTitle: Ten Things I Hate About Me
Author: Randa Abdel-Fattah
ISBN: 9780545050555
Pages: 297 pages
Publisher/Date: Orchard Books, c2006

I gulp hard and nod halfheartedly, trying to disguise my mortification at his comments.
You see, neither Peter nor anybody else in my class has any idea about my Lebanese-Muslim background. In fact, my real name is Jamilah Towfeek, but I’m known as Jamie when I’m at school because I’m on a mission to de-wog myself. (5)

Jamilah “Jamie” Towfeek has never had anyone from school over to her house. If anyone ever did visit, they would instantly find out that Jamie is an Australian of Lebanese-Muslim heritage, which is a problem in their clearly divided high school. She comes up with elaborate excuses to prevent friends from finding out about her over-protective father, her feminist/activitist older sister, and her mechanic older brother. The only person she is perfectly honest with is an e-mail penpal. While she tries to convince her father that she should be allowed to go to prom, her two best friends stop talking to one another and her e-mail friend blocks her messages.

Randa Abdel-Fattah presents this dual-identity situation in Ten Things I Hate About Me. I find it hard to believe that Jamie/Jamilah would have been able to keep her school and family lives so separate for so long. While the book presents racial tensions and identity concisely, the characters seem stereotyped in their efforts to assimilate. Of course Jamie’s overly strict father is a cab driver, of course they attend Muslim school, of course the parents are more traditional than the children. I think it would have made a larger impact if Jamie’s family didn’t contain all the stereotypes and she was still stereotyped against.

Overall though, I was engaged in the reading, and it’s an interesting plot. Regardless of my nit-picking of small plot points, girls especially will find it a fast read. The twist regarding her e-mail penpal is played out well, and the ending is spot on. Jamie is a likable character struggling with acceptance, and who can’t relate to those ideas?

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