Hate is Such a Strong Word

This month's Convent book group theme is Cultural Conflict, and our YA title is a home-grown exploration of the topic. I suspect we'd be able to find a lot of Australian books falling into this category; our history of (mostly) successful immigration has produced many such stories, because we need them. Reading is a safe and easy way to walk a mile or two in someone else's shoes, to see the world from their perspective.

In Sarah Ayoub's Hate is Such a Strong Word, the perspective is that of seventeen year old Sophie, eldest daughter of a strict Lebanese-Australian family, who attends a Lebanese Catholic school and chafes against the expectations of her community while still feeling strongly bound to it. I liked that Sophie wasn't a total rebel. She didn't want to break free completely or reject her culture, she just wanted a little more freedom to move, to express herself and enjoy the normal social life of a teenage girl in Sydney, and this ambivalence felt realistic to me. And I must admit I was slightly shocked that Sophie's father was so strict, certainly much stricter than I've ever been with my fifteen year old daughter!

Naturally, there is a crossed-wires romance, between outsider Sophie and outsider "half-Aussie" dreamboat Shehadie (who seemed to feel annoyingly entitled to lecture Sophie on her behaviour, despite being allegedly more enlightened than his peers). Maybe this is the true value of books like these: to show that, whatever their cultural background, most teenagers are essentially the same?

No comments:

Post a Comment