About the Book

Title: If You Could Be Mine
Published: 2013
Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Cover Story: You Tried
BFF Charm: Maybe… No
Swoonworthy Scale: 7 – 5 = 2
Talky Talk: Would It Be a Bad Pun to Call This “Straight Up”?
Bonus Factors: Diversity, Trufax
Relationship Status: Don’t Go Changing for Me

Cover Story: You Tried

Hand holding is an overdone cover trend. But A for effort for featuring a same-sex romance, even if the execution is a bit ambiguous. Or I don’t know—maybe it’s not ambiguous to you. I’m not a hand savant.

The Deal:

Best friends Sahar and Nasrin have been in love with each other since childhood. But Iran is no place for two girls in love. And their days together are numbered when Nasrin’s parents arrange for her marriage. Desperate to openly love Nasrin, Sahar may have found a solution: Homosexuality may be illegal, but transexuality isn’t.

BFF Charm: Maybe…No

BFF Charm that says "denied"

I’d be more than happy to be friends with Sahar. She’s smart, ambitious and responsible; we could totally be keeners together and cross-reference our color-coded notes. I just don’t want her as my BFF. She barely has any friends other than Nasrin, and she def. seems like the type to ditch her friends when she’s in a relationship. Also, I take issue with her decision-making faculties (more on that later).

I didn’t even bother giving Sahar the Sassy Gay Friend treatment (“What, what, WHAT are you doing?!”). She already has one of those in her awesome cousin Ali, but that hasn’t helped to knock some sense into her.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7 – 5 = 2

This book takes forbidden love to the extreme. Like punishable-by-death extreme. The stakes are high, and Sahar and Nasrin’s relationship is on borrowed time. Every stolen glance, every closed-door encounter, every moment together is attacked with passion and urgency, as if it’s the last one they’ll ever have. Because it’s not just teenage melodrama. (No offense, melodramatic teens.) Every moment together actually could be the last—of their lives.

But it’s that same intensity that detracts from vicarious swooning. The love between Sahar and Nasrin is obsessive to the point of possessive. And on the grand gesture scale, UHH YEAH—undergoing sex reassignment surgery despite being cisgender would be a biggie.

I’m probably too much in the “What if this happened here?” mindset. Maybe it’d seem sweeter under far more dire circumstances. (No? Still extreme?) In any case, Sahar’s plan also hinges on Nasrin rolling with it. While that’s idealistic and romantic of Sahar to assume, she’s really not considering Nasrin’s say in all this. I know it’s ultimately Sahar’s choice, but she’s only doing it for Nasrin. Plus, like Lauren Conrad taught me on The Hills, you shouldn’t make important life choices because of who you’re with when you’re young. Don’t be the girl who didn’t go to Paris medically transitioned for the wrong reasons, Sahar!

When it comes down to it, Sahar and Nasrin have both the kind of love you want, and the kind you’d never want. It shouldn’t have to be this difficult for two people in love to be together. And yet it is.

Talky Talk: Would It Be a Bad Pun to Call This “Straight Up”?

Sahar’s voice reflects her serious and straightforward personality. Not to say she’s without humor, but her general tone isn’t exactly cheery, either. Sara Farizan does a decent job of sprinkling Persian throughout her story, other than the odd time or two when there are translations in dialogue between fluent speakers.

Farizan should also be commended for writing a premise that I can honestly say I’ve never come across in any other book. And I’ll admit—when I first read the blurb, I was instantly intrigued but a bit apprehensive, too. Fortunately, Farizan treats the subject matter with the necessary care and respect to relieve any concerns.

And since sex reassignment surgery is central to the plot, there’s a lengthy rundown of the procedures involved at a doctor’s consultation. Nothing graphic or anything, but def. eye-opening for the uninformed like me, esp. when considering all the people who’ve had to live through it.

Bonus Factor: Diversity

Faces of all different races, ethnicities and genders.

Well, obviously. And just because they’re only a few letters apart in LGBTQ, doesn’t mean that transgender people can’t be homophobic (and vice versa).

Bonus Factor: Trufax

I don’t mean to make light with this comparison, but I kept thinking, “Damn, this feels like a dystopian novel.” Because choosing a sex change to escape oppression could not possibly be a real thing that people do. But none of the worlds in speculative fiction boggle my mind as much as reality does.

Casting Call:

There are ethnicity and age inconsistencies with my picks. So let me just re-choose from the huge pool of Iranian actresses in Hollywood. OH WAIT.

Relationship Status: Don’t Go Changing for Me

This book and I aren’t perfect together. But I certainly hope it won’t take that as a cue to change itself for my benefit. Book—I like you just the way you are, OK?

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Algonquin Young Readers. This review was originally posted on Kirkus Reviews in exchange for monetary compensation, which did not affect or influence my opinions. If You Could Be Mine is available now.

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she oversaw all things FYA Book Club from 2013 to 2023.