Though the title suggests otherwise, If You Could Be Mine is not a typical love story. Our calm and studious narrator, Sahar, is desperately in love with her best friend Nasrin. Two girls. In love. Secret kisses. Hidden passion. In Iran, they would be killed if anyone found out.
If You Could Be Mine constructs itself from a very unique premise. I have never read a book with the same premise and setting. Our main character, Sahar is such a relatable, kind-hearted and confused teenager – it’s easy too feel empathy for her. When her best friend Nasrin announces her engagement to a man twice their age, Sahar’s world turns upside down. Very understandably, she doubts the existence of Nasrin’s feelings for her and clings to the hope to marry Nasrin.
The good? Sara Farizan has created a relatble narrator whom we readers hope the best for. In addition, the secondary characters are infused with personality, namely Daughter and Ali. I liked the dynamics of Sahar’s family issues and her changing interactions with her withdrawn father – very fittingly woven into the plot.
The not-so-good? While the novel addresses the unique issues of an Iranian teenager’s struggles with her sexual identity, family and future, it only brushes the surface of Sahar’s feelings and her relationship with Nasrin. For the most part, Nasrin is unlikeable, selfish and totally different from Sahara. The two childhood friends are obviously attracted to one another, but I often found myself wondering why Sahar would love Nasrin enough to sacrifice her identity. I would have simply liked more heart wrenching, emotional depth to Nasrin and Sahar’s relationship – confirmation that their attraction is love, not lust.
At times, the author’s writing style makes Sahar’s voice sound stilted – I understand that a different voice often emerges when one writes historical or cultural fiction. However, certain sentences just seemed disjoined and awkward – deviant from the natural mental flow of Sahar.
Overall? I enjoyed reading the book. It was different — though predictable. For sure, it’s compelling! I started it last night and couldn’t stop reading until the end. I recommend If You Could Be Mine to the YA audience of around 13 to 16, considering the language may not be suitable for younger readers and older teens may find the book too simplistic. 3/5
***eBook courtesy of Netgalley in exchange for an honest review