Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisreen's Hijab
Warning: Islamaphobia triggers/read screening
Genre: Graphic Novel
Ages: 13 plus
Screening: Islamaphobia- the main character gets her hijab ripped off and her hair comes off with a piece of her scalp, blood everywhere. Lots of cussing in the book. Hints at Main character liking her friend though nothing explicit. Trauma/bullying. Rape alluded to but not shown
Nisreen is a young Bangladeshi girl living with her mother, (her father is not mentioned at all and it is said her
Mom isn’t marriad) and her mom’s parents. She wears an orna (cultural hijab cover) to school for a culture day presentation and on the way home she and her best friend are attacked, and her orna is pulled off and the top half of her hair is violently ripped off. The summer is spent in therapy and the only time she leaves her home is to visit her cousins who wear hijab. On the first day of school, Nisreen decides to wear hijab. Her grandfather is furious and her mom and him fight. Nisreen is upset, but heads to school in short sleeves and hijab. When someone calls her out for wearing shorts in school, she realizes she doesn’t know how to wear hijab properly and decides to do research. A new friend helps her, as her best friend has remained distant…and Nisreen slowly grows in her confidence about her hijab.
I liked how Nisreen was determined to wear hijab, and she researches Islam, even though her mom and grandma don’t, and her grandfather is mad about it. I like how Islamaphobia and racism are discussed, and even through the triggers, there is a lot to learn. Nisreen encounters judgement about wearing hijab and false info online is shown to the reader- further clarifying that there is so much misinformation about hijab on the internet.
The reason Nisreen’s family is triggered by her hijab is the Pakistani/Bangladesh war and mentions are made of Nisreen’s mother being scared while wearing an orna and her grandparent’s experiences of brutality from Pakistani soldiers and fear of the rape squads. Some politics are discussed, but not too much detail- just enough to show trauma, although I never really get a full handle on what really happened.
Def an intense read.
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