If You Could Be Mine
Femininity is a cruel cultural construct that causes women of all nationalities to bend to its power. It is not something one can directly touch or feel yet its broad reach touches every society. It is nearly impossible to pinpoint exactly how perfectly a woman must present in order to satisfy the Male Gaze; too feminine and one is weak, too masculine, and one is a bitch. In "If You Could Be Mine" author Sara Farizan tackles this duplicitous conundrum in modern-day Iran.
Current Iranian law condemns homosexual behaving individuals to death. Failure to adhere to stricture gender roles can lead to harassment and beatings. They are considered perverse and counter to the will of Allah. Transgender folk, on the other hand, are not. Those born in the "wrong body" are welcomed by the government to undergo genital reassignment surgery. The Iranian people are not as welcoming to the transgendered. The central character of "If You Could Be Mine," Sahar, has been in love with her best friend Nasrin longer than she has known what love is. Nasrin has been placed into an arranged marriage. Sahar's only option to be with Nasrin is to have reassignment surgery even though they both identify as women.
This is Farizan's first novel. While it is being marketed for young-adults, the content of the novel is for mature audiences. Farizan tackles shame, sexual and emotional maturation, and cultural taboo with adult clarity. Her writing may be simplified for a younger audience, but the discussions remain complex. Younger readers would best enjoy this book with an adult to translate complex issues. Topics such as romantic love, and the lengths one goes to for love are already complicated. Throw in a volatile, foreign environment and transgender identity issues and even most adults will be reeling.
The current state of affairs in Iran is not conducive to a healthy life for the greater LGBTQ community. Regardless of how our people are treated in the Middle East, Farizan expresses a love for her country of ethnicity. Although the laws of Iran are represented as archaic, Farazin writes her characters as compassionate. If the tone of her writing is to be believed, it gives her audience an opportunity to judge the people of Iran as separate from the laws that bind its people. There may be hope for us yet.
"If You Could Be Mine"