Every Choice Has A Price

I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister by Amélie Sarn, translated by Y. Maudet, is a short novel about teenage sisters living in a Muslim community in France. Sohane and Djelila are very close until they reach high school. Since they are the second generation born in France, their parents allow many liberties customarily not permitted in a Muslim household. Sohane embraces Muslim traditions. In contrast, Djelila elects to become secular which allows her to dress as she wants and socialize with her non-Muslim friends. Because of her choices, a local Muslim gang bullies Djelila. Sohane dislikes her sister’s decisions so she watches on as the bullying continues; hoping Djelila will learn a lesson. Conversely, when Sohane publicly pronounces her religion by wearing a scarf, her school expels her when she refuses to remove the scarf. Djelila may not agree with her sister’s beliefs, but she supports Sohane’s pursuit to express her individuality.
The simple prose is in Sohane’s voice, following her train of thought as the chapters alternate between past and present events. This heartbreaking story raises the issues of freedom of religion and expression, individual values, family relations, feminism, guilt, grief, morality and what it is like to be a Muslim woman in a secular society. Seemingly torn from the headlines, this book is ripe for a thought provoking discussion in any book club.

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