Who is she? Jamie, the blond preppie who’s part of the crowd, or Muslim Jamilah who plays drum in a Muslim band and puts up with her father’s strict rules?
Ever since seventh grade, Jamie has hidden her Lebanese-Muslim background behind blonde hair and blue contacts. Now she’s a sophomore, and it’s getting harder and harder to keep the two halves of her life apart.
At her high school, there are clear divisions among ethnics, whites, Asians, nerds and loners. Clear divisions, obvious prejudice, and racist taunts. Jamie masquerades as a skip, a Caucasian, and she’s part of the crowd, she makes sure she doesn’t get really close to anyone. Even her two closest friends don’t have a clue about her secret or her family life. She sees them only at school, and has become a pro at inventing plausible excuses for last-minute cancellations, because her dad won’t let her go out at night.
But one night a week, when she goes to the Arabic school, she’s Jamilah, and she plays a drum in an Arabic band. When she is playing, she knows that she’s is completely herself, where she belongs, doing what she loves.
But she can never be that person in public. She can never be that person at school. Is there any way she can bring both halves of her life together?
This booktalk was written by university professor, librarian, and booktalking expert Joni Richards Bodart.