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Ten Things I Hate about Me (review)
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Reviewed by
Abdel-Fattah, Randa. Ten Things I Hate about Me. Orchard/Scholastic, 2009 297p. ISBN 978-0-545-05055-5 $16.99 R Gr. 6-9

As a Lebanese Muslim in Australia, Jamilah leads a dual life: at her high school, she's blonde-haired (dyed), blue-eyed (contacts), mealy-mouthed Jamie, while at home and at madrasa, she's feisty, quick-witted Jamilah, who plays the darabuka in an "Aussie Ethnic" hip-hop band and argues constantly with her overly strict father. She's so intent on keeping her lives separate that even her best school friends know nothing about her ethnicity. Racist insults fly thick and fast among her schoolmates, but she keeps her head down and her mouth shut, attracting the attention of the most popular boy in her year with her shyness and her lack of self-confidence, which he finds appealing. The only person who knows the real Jamie is an online friend who, to no one's surprise but hers, turns out to be an aloof boy in her class with his own brand of cool. Jamie's quest for a backbone becomes a bit attenuated as person after person advises her to come clean, be herself, and damn the consequences, but her character and motivations remain convincing and her self-deprecating humor keeps things from becoming too tract-like. A stronger message of the importance of self-disclosure to maintain loving relationships of all kinds plays itself out as Jamie learns to negotiate her roles as daughter, sister, and friend. Readers will also get an enlightening look at post-9/11 racial tensions outside the U.S. and the problems they pose for Muslim teens. [End Page 310]