Tag Archives: women

Student Review: Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal, by G. Willow Wilson (reviewed by Tajea B)

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No NormalMs. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first female Muslim superhero is finally here, and she’s not afraid to kick some butt. G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel successfully caught my eyes with its amazing illustrations and storyline. Reading Ms. Marvel is almost like going on an adventure through your imagination. The plot in this adventure breaks a new ground. When we meet Kamala in her non-super state she’s a 16 year-old geek, who’s loyal to her close friend and disinclined to rebel against her observant family. Don’t get me started on her “sad nerd obsession with the Avengers” (3). She writes elaborate fanfictions about them and tries to get her parents to understand, but of course they don’t. Kamala seems out of place, even in her diverse high school. She can’t seem to “fit in” with the other teens. Throughout the comic we see how it is a struggle to not only learn new superpowers, but also live a double life. I will say this book is a big deal to American Muslims, and the children of Muslim immigrants, to see themselves represented in an amazing book like this. It also shows how wonderful teenage Muslim minds think and how they cherish their faith. If I could, I would give every single student in high schools everywhere a copy of this comic. I recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about Muslim culture or who loves a good laugh and superheros. ~ Student: Tajea B

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Student Review: Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi (reviewed by Isabel S.)

Reading Lolita in TehranReading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi offers a look into the life of women in Tehran during the strict Taliban rule. Through the author’s secret, all-women’s book club, readers gain perspective about the education women received in Iran in 1995. The book club acts as an escape for these women, allowing them to take off their veils, read forbidden works, and learn in a way in which they were not able during their formal education. While Reading Lolita in Tehran reveals insight into the Iranian education system and culture, the extensive discussion of literature distracts from the examination of Iranian women’s educational opportunities.

Additionally, the book club, while an important act of resistance, does not provide a reasonable solution to the country’s flawed education system, especially for women.

The extensive literary analysis of the novels read by the book club did not effectively add to the story of the women’s lives. Instead, the discussion of the books distracted from the characters and their struggles with education. One who has not read authors such as Nabokov, Austin, and Fitzgerald may find him or herself confused by the examinations of these novels, as having read them is a prerequisite for a thorough understanding. The author’s attempt to describe the women’s experiences in tyrannical Iran through metaphors in literature was not effective. These metaphors should have been more clearly discussed in relation to the actual experiences of the women in the book club. Instead, Nafisi allows these texts to speak completely for her. The heavy reliance on metaphor prevented the memoir from effectively conveying the struggles that women face with education.

The moments in which Azar Nafisi describes her experiences in Iranian schools seem fleeting, as they give some insight into the education system but not enough to truly comprehend it. Additionally, she fails to present an adequate explanation of the true problem or a feasible solution that applies to all affected students. She explains that women must go through a much different process than men to receive an education but does not go into depth on male education, leaving the reader with nothing to compare. She focuses more on the fact that women are oppressed than how. While her small book club is an important act of resistance, it really only applies to eight young women, leaving the rest of the country unreformed. No wide-spread solution is proposed.

While Reading Lolita in Tehran illustrates a problem, it diverts away from the main point, focusing too heavily on subplots. Additionally, the small solution that this work presents cannot be reasonably applied to the faulty system. Although helpful in exemplifying a flawed education system, it does little to address large problems. ~ Student: Isabel S.

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Student Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini (reviewed by Camila H.)

A Thousand Splendid SunsA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was honestly one of the best books I have ever read. It was a perfect balance between a captivating story, and non fiction history. It forced you to learn about the history of the character’s country, but it also got you attached to the characters and the plot line. The relationships and connections between all the characters was really well done, and I loved how it started out with Laila and Mariam’s separate stories and then came together as one. I also loved how they had so many plot twists, especially the one with Tariq. It brought up issues with the Laila and Mariam’s family that were real-life issues, but it showed them to you from an inside view. The writing was also really well done, and I really liked how the author showed the story from two different sides. The ending was a perfect balance of sadness and happiness, because Laila got her perfect family and job, but Mariam had to die for Laila’s freedom. I thought overall it was an amazing book, and I would recommend it to anyone. ~ Student: Camila H.

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Student Review: The Bastard of Istanbul, by Elif Shafak (reviewed by Ben T.)

The Bastard of IstanbulThe Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this novel, yet I would not recommend it. As rich and deep the conversations were between characters regarding the important Armenian Genocide, I found the novel to be boring at times, as there was no action, which is something I tend to enjoy when reading. Armanoush’s journey to Istanbul was interesting, as she learned a lot of Istanbulite culture and the unique culture of the Kazanci family. I would have never predicted that Armanoush has ties to the Kazanci family, as her Grandma Shushan was also the grandmother of Zeliha, Banu, Feride, and Cevriye. This was pretty cool, and I enjoyed the relationship that Asya and Armanoush developed when they began to get to know one another. Of course the stories of the Armenian Genocide were saddening, but were important to hear. Although this book is fiction, I am sure the ties that Grandma Shushan had to the Armenian Genocide can be relatable to other actual stories that some people had durin this time. However, there was no action in the story, as I said. But the book didn’t quite need it, as the relationships of the complex characters in the story filled that void that I felt when reading the book. ~ Student: Ben T.

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Student Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini (reviewed by Anya G.)

A Thousand Splendid SunsA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book- much more than I thought I would. At first it was a bit tricky to read, given that the point of view switches between characters, and jumps ahead years at a time. However, the way the two main characters’ lives come together was really interesting, albeit depressing. I liked seeing how they reacted to each other’s presence as wives to the same man. The author really got inside their minds, and made the book feel very real and close to the heart. Although the first 50 or so pages were a bit slow, after that, I really found the book hard to put down. The plot completely draws you in, and I found myself craving to learn more about Mariam and Laila’s plights, living with Rasheed. The plot twisted and turned, sometimes unexpectedly, keeping the reader completely immersed in the storyline. I sympathized with Laila and Mariam, laughing at the funny bits, getting weepy at the sad bits (and there were a lot of them!). I realized that right after finishing the book, I wanted to know more about Mariam and Laila and their lives. ~ Student: Anya G.

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Student Review: Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil, by Deborah Rodriguez (reviewed by Allie T.)

Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the VeilKabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil by Deborah Rodriguez

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This wonderful piece of nonfiction, gives the reader a view of Kabul in 2002, through the eyes of an American hair stylist. Deborah Rodriguez arrived in Kabul as part of a charitable aid mission. When she saw the state of dismay that Kabul was in after the Taliban came through, she knew she had to help. Although many people when trying to be charitable may donate money, Deborah donated her skills. She set a goal and accomplished it. Her goal was to create and operate a beauty school. Giving the society a beauty school actually ended up being more instrumental than donating pure cash because when taught a skill like beautification the students now have many options. Giving Afghan women practical training convertible into cash and personal power, was a radical idea in a country where women have a very low status comparatively to the men in the community. In fact, when Deborah was at her friends wedding in Kabul she had noticed that, “Afghan brides aren’t really supposed to look happy at these events.(15)” Objectively, men are encouraged to have the time of their lives on their wedding night. Is this fair? In this community it is considered a norm. However, in the United States this does not seem very ordinary, women in the United States stereotypically plan their wedding at a very young age. In the U.S. women are supposed to have fun and be exuberant on their wedding night, unlike in Kabul in 2002. ~ Student: Allie T.

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