I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister
By Amelie Sarn
Delacourt, 2014. 152 pages. Young Adult
Intellectually gifted and studious Sohane, 18, has always taken care of her beautiful, athletic younger sister Djelila. As French-born Algerian Muslims, the sisters face different forms of religious persecution outside their home: The devout Sohane is expelled from her public school for wearing a head scarf; while Djelila, who wears tight jeans, smokes, and kisses boys in public, becomes a target for a Taliban-like teen gang that enforces Islamic extremism in their neighborhood. While the boys' taunting is merely sharp words and a slap at first, it escalates into a violent act that ends one sister's life, and changes the other's forever.
Sarn's novel was on my weeding list after only a year on the shelf; but in light of recent events, I wanted to spend an evening with it before deciding whether or not to discard the book. I expected to learn something about the Muslim faith; however, I did not expect to find such a nuanced and sensitive look at what it means to be Muslim, especially when one lives in the Western world. Sarn never gets too heavy-handed with her message; and the relationship between Sohane and Djelila is endearing, as are their relationships with the rest of their family. The grief the family endures after Djelila's violent murder feels realistic, as does Sohane's struggle to understand how she fits into the world as a hijab-wearing feminist, especially after her sister's death.
In short, we're keeping this one.