YA Diversity Book Club: I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister by Amélie Sarn

YA Diversity Book Club: I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister by Amélie SarnI Love I Hate I Miss My Sister by Amélie Sarn, Y. Maudet
Published by Delacorte, Random House Children's Books on 2014-08-05
Genres: Death & Dying, Family, Religious, Siblings, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 160
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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For readers of The Tyrant’s DaughterOut of Nowhere, and I Am Malala, this poignant story about two Muslim sisters is about love, loss, religion, forgiveness, women’s rights, and freedom. 
 
Eighteen-year-old Sohane loves no one more than her beautiful, carefree younger sister, Djelila. And she hates no one as much. The two have always shared everything. But now, Djelila is embracing her life as a secular teen, and Sohane is becoming more religious. 
 
Every choice has a price.
 
When Sohane starts wearing a head scarf, her school insists that she remove it or she’ll be expelled. Meanwhile, Djelila is repeatedly harassed by neighborhood bullies for not following Muslim customs. Sohane can’t help thinking that Djelila deserves what she gets. She never could have imagined just how far things would go.
 
I love I hate I miss my sister.
 
In the year following Djelila’s tragic death, Sohane struggles with her feelings of loss and guilt, revealing a complex relationship between two sisters, each girl’s path to self-discovery, and the consequences they face for being true to themselves.

 

YA Diversity Book Club

In the YA Diversity Book Club we chat about the latest YA books that celebrate diversity. Our book club includes Sandie @ Teen Lit Rocks, Kristina @ Gone Pecan (currently taking a break from the book club – we miss you Kristina!) and Kristan @ We Heart YA. Each month we’ll focus on one book with a book review (our discussion chat) and an author Q&A plus some fun bonus features.

Our August book club pick is I LOVE I HATE I MISS MY SISTER by Amélie Sarn and translated from the French by Y. Maudet. I LOVE I HATE I MISS MY SISTER is a powerful book about the sister bond, religious freedom, and feminism, that is inspired by a true and horrifying event. In the author’s note the author states that the novel was inspired by the 2002 death of Sohane Benziane, a seventeen-year-old French girl of Algerian descent who was murdered. This book is haunting and relevant and gives you a lot of food for thought.

We recently chatted about I LOVE I HATE I MISS MY SISTER and I’m sharing our discussion below. One thing I forgot to ask is if Sandie or Kristan had the Juliana Hatfield song “My Sister” in their head as they were reading.  The song lyrics are very similar to this title. Anyone remember that 90s classic?

Here’s our book club discussion on I LOVE I HATE I MISS MY SISTER:

Reading Date: So, what was your first impression of the book?

We Heart YA: 1) Short! 2) French? 3) Ooh, this is going to be powerful.

Reading Date: Oui! It was a pretty intense story. And I did not know about the French law about religious items banned from schools. And that it was based on a true story, whoa.

We Heart YA: I remember when France passed the law, actually… but I had not heard about a girl burned alive 🙁 🙁 🙁

Teen Lit Rocks: Yes I knew about the law and the French have a lot of problems with the suburban dwelling Muslims.

Reading Date: Interesting! I wonder if this book was controversial in France.

Teen Lit Rocks: Me too!

Reading Date: In the author’s note she said she wasn’t trying to make a statement, but I think she definitely did.

We Heart YA: Well, I appreciated that she showed the merits of each sister’s position rather than advocating one as right and the other as wrong. I think maybe that’s what she meant by not making a statement?

Reading Date: That’s true. I felt a feminist vibe actually too.

Teen Lit Rocks: I agree that’s probably what she meant. I loved that once again we get the frum and frei thing but with Muslim sisters

Reading Date: It is interesting that our first two books both cover similar ground.

We Heart YA: Ooh, I hadn’t thought of that parallel. Probably because there’s no romance here.

Teen Lit Rocks: Right I didn’t mind that.

We Heart YA: Oh no, I didn’t either.

Reading Date: What did you think of the writing style? The short chapters and sentences and made the story feel more intense for me. And the flashbacks also added an ominous tone.

Teen Lit Rocks: Yes! So intense and foreboding.

We Heart YA: Agreed. I really liked how this had a slightly different “taste” than contemporary YA lit in America. But on the flip side, I wouldn’t have minded a *bit* more description/detail. I couldn’t really picture the projects, the school, the city…

Also, I think the climax of the novel could have been fleshed out a tiny bit more. I had a lot of questions surrounding the fire and the days leading up to it. BUT, that’s nitpicking. I think I still got out of the book what I was meant to get, you know?

Teen Lit Rocks: I also wanted slightly more details, I totally understand.

Reading Date: Me too actually. I wondered if the author’s choice to go bare bones with the narrative was intentional.

We Heart YA: Yeah, without knowing more about contemporary French lit / French YA lit, it’s hard to know if this is her personal style or a more common regional choice.

Reading Date: I did think the translator did a good job with the source material from what I could tell.

We Heart YA: Now that I know this is a translation, I kind of wish we had more of that happening. More stories from other countries making it into the US market.

Reading Date: I was wondering about US high school students reading this book. And I do agree it would be awesome to see more translations like this.

We Heart YA: Yes, speaking of US high schools and students, I was wondering about headcoverings here…I think they’re allowed if they’re religious, right? But I know otherwise, hats and head coverings are prohibited.

Reading Date: Yes, you’re not allowed to wear hats unless it’s for religious reasons. But I also read that sometimes US students are targets of bullying for wearing headcoverings.

We Heart YA 🙁

Reading Date: You can be bullied for so many reasons. I don’t miss high school at all. Did you gain a new perspective from reading this book?

We Heart YA: Well… I think it has reminded me not to make assumptions about “conservative” religious cultures. As a fairly liberal person, I do tend to bristle when I see women being “oppressed.” But I have to remember that there are a lot of cultural, religious, and historical factors at play, which I may not understand or be aware of.

Reading Date: Agreed. It seemed like Sohane wearing the headscarf to school was a more feminist statement that I hadn’t considered before.

We Heart YA: Yeah, for Sohane, it seemed to be comparable to refusing to shave one’s legs, for example. Making a stand against expectations for women.

Teen Lit Rocks: Yes I agree with that!

Reading Date: Did you find the characters convincing? What did you think of the sister relationship?

Teen Lit Rocks: I just wanted more about her motivations.

We Heart YA: I definitely felt the family relationships were authentic. And unfortunately, the villains too. Interestingly, now that you’ve put the parallel in my head, I can see similarities between the “bad guys” in this book and the “bad guy” in LIKE NO OTHER.

Reading Date: Yeah, same idea, but to the extreme, unfortunately.

Teen Lit Rocks: Extremists are alike no matter what their faith.

We Heart YA 🙁

Reading Date: Though it was a short book, I felt the bond between Sohane and Djelila and loved their support for each other, even though they chose different ways to express themselves. I hurt so much for Sohane- can’t imagine her pain.

We Heart YA: Yes, even with the sparse style, I thought it was a very evocative book. I teared up a few times.

Reading Date: Any other notes about the book to share?

We Heart YA: Hm, not from me. Overall, another good read 🙂

Teen Lit Rocks: I think that the book, given what’s happening in the world, made me so sad about how faith taken to an extreme can get distorted into something horrible.

Reading Date: Definitely thought provoking. Books like this really widen your perspective. Made me sad too.

If you’ve read this book I’d love to know your thoughts! Join the conversation with #YADiversityBookClub.

Be sure to check out all the Book Club features:

Our September book club pick is Knockout Games by G. Neri. Read along with us!

 

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9 thoughts on “YA Diversity Book Club: I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister by Amélie Sarn

  1. Thanks Lucy, now I have that song stuck in my head:-) I love these review chats you guys do, plus I learned about a new book today!

    1. Lucy says:

      Haha sorry! I had it in my head every time I picked up the book 🙂 And yes, it’s fun to read with a group and get a new perspective on the book you read.

  2. There were a lot of issues in a Muslim neighborhood not too far from us when we lived in France. The ban on religious items came about shortly after we moved back to the US. This sounds like a book I need to read! Thanks for the review!

    bermudaonion (Kathy) recently posted: Giveaway: Madame Picasso prize pack
    1. Lucy says:

      You probably will find this book very interesting then, Kathy! I didn’t know you lived in France. I’d love to know what you think of this one since you have inside knowledge.

  3. I had not heard of this book before. How great that you have this Diversity Book Club to explore books that deal with diverse subjects.

    Laura@Library of Clean Reads recently posted: The Promise by Ann Weisgarber
    1. Lucy says:

      This book is a little under the radar but I hope it gets more attention. I think US teens will relate to it and still find it relevant.

  4. We Heart YA says:

    I love re-reading our chats! And sorry, haha, I don’t know the song.

    1. Lucy says:

      The song is from 1994 so I’m not surprised you haven’t heard of it 🙂 Probably a good thing too, since you wouldn’t be able to get it out of your head.
      You always have such intelligent things to say in our chats- I always enjoy hearing your perspective on the book.

  5. Sandie says:

    I hope this book finds an audience here. I think teachers could use it too, since it’s short but powerful.

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