Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Skunk Girl” as Want to Read:
Skunk Girl
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Skunk Girl

3.38  ·  Rating Details  ·  400 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
If Nina Khan were to rate herself on the unofficial Pakistani prestige point system – the one she's sure all the aunties and uncles use to determine the most attractive marriage prospects for their children – her scoring might go something like this:

+2 points for getting excellent grades
–3 points for failing to live up to expectations set by genius older sister
+4 points
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 31st 2009 by Farrar Straus Giroux
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Skunk Girl, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Skunk Girl

Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-FattahTen Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-FattahBoy vs. Girl by Na'ima B. RobertSkunk Girl by Sheba KarimAsk Me No Questions by Marina Budhos
Muslimah YA fiction
4th out of 34 books — 28 voters
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane SatrapiDoes My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-FattahReading Lolita in Tehran by Azar NafisiTen Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-FattahI Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Best Books by Muslim Women
24th out of 133 books — 215 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,147)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Feb 29, 2012 Amanda rated it it was ok
This was the kind of book that I sit back and think "what on earth was the point of this?" However, while I was reading it, I enjoyed it. It was interesting to read about a different culture, but the main character, Nina, was not a very interesting person. I think the thing that bothered me the most was that there was no resolution to her initial problem. She just kind of gets over the boy she likes and moves on because she doesn't want to tell her parents. I understand that the resolution is th ...more
Feb 03, 2010 Jamie rated it really liked it
I'm actually going to start this review by telling you a little bit about me. Just trust me and go with it. I read lots of blogs, but I very seldom read through the actual reviews. I hate being spoiled and even though most bloggers give adequate spoiler warnings, I'd rather be completely surprised when I pick up a book. So, you will often hear see me say that I had no idea what a book was about before picking it up. I also never go to the library with a list. I go, pick up any new books I have o ...more
Jul 11, 2009 Warren rated it really liked it
Nina Khan wants to experience life. Her parents want to protect her from the evils of the world. Nina lives in Deer Hook, New York, a small town outside of Albany. Her dad is a doctor and her mom runs his office. Nina is a junior in high school. She is also living in the shadow of her older sister, Sonia, who excelled in high school and now is attending Harvard. Oh, did I mention that Nina is Pakistani and Muslim? Skunk Girl, written by Sheba Karim, tells the story of Nina’s struggles to fit in ...more
Apr 19, 2011 Namratha rated it really liked it
Skunk Girl is the emotional journey of a teenager called Nina.

Nina Khan

Nina lives in small-town Deer Hook, population 11,250. In her school, with it’s expected coterie of snobbish cheerleaders, handsome jocks and loving (but sometimes clueless) friends, brown-skinned Nina feels like the odd-one out.

The fact that she is a Pakistani-Muslim and comes from a conservative household means that she’s often envious of the freedom that her friends take for granted. While being a fairly intelligent studen
May 07, 2010 Jessy rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2010
Look authors, if you're about my age and your book for no apparent reason takes place in the 90s, I'm just going to assume you're too lazy to do research on "kids today".
First YA novel is not an excuse for thinly veiled memoir.
This book specific complaint: Holy all of a sudden, 3/4 of the way through the book self-esteem epiphany!
Elisha Hollis
Mar 26, 2016 Elisha Hollis rated it really liked it
Skunk Girl was actually an eye-opening book for me. It made me realize that my problems are actually really minuscule compared to some. I really enjoyed reading it. I picked it up just because I had finished my book a few hours before my English class. But, I am really glad that I read it. It follows the life of Nina Khan, a Pakistani Muslim girl living in the United States. It shows what it's like to live a traditional Muslim life while being a teenager in America. I think it depicts what most ...more
I first heard about Skunk Girl after a friend of mine posted the cover on Facebook. I thought it was funny and wondered if Skunk Girl was about a girl who smells. It isn’t. Instead, this is a book about a hairy Pakistani Muslim.


There are not that many books about Muslims out there, so once I saw this at the library, I wasted no time in picking it up. Was it everything that I wanted and more? Sadly, no. But I think this is due to my expectations for this novel. I originally thought it wou
Abeer Hoque
May 21, 2009 Abeer Hoque rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-recommend
When you read this review, keep in mind that "Skunk Girl" was written by one of my best friends in the whole world:) I've read a lot of Sheba's writing over the years and I love her style which is so breezy and grounded.

I started laughing from page 1 of SG, and not just because of the Jolene and SAT antonyms and the fact that we're hearing a story about South Asian immigrant lives. Naturally, overbearing traditionalist parents and obsessive academic regimes are resonant themes with me, and it's
Jan 03, 2015 Laura rated it it was ok
Nina's parents are Pakistani Muslims, while she wants to be an Americanized teenager. She's got two girlfriends, both white, and a crush on the new boy Asher. Problem is, of course, getting her parents to allow her to do anything that might involve boys, dating, dancing, etc., which of course they won't because they want her to be a good girl. Asher appears to like her, though...

The ending is, I think, supposed to let us know that Nina has somehow made peace with her American and Pakistani sides
Jul 03, 2013 Rachna rated it liked it
I'd been wanting to read this for a while, as I've been trying to find more YA books that feature diverse stories. I thought the overall premise of this book was good, but the execution was not. I found myself wanting more character development all around, and plot development as well. It was all just there to read but not really feel. Additionally, I didn't feel as if there was resolution. I can understand why nina made the decision she did, based on my own knowledge of the culture and communit ...more
Saleena Davidson
Feb 05, 2014 Saleena Davidson rated it it was amazing
I love this book for a variety of's funny, it's real and it's one of the few Pakistani lead characters in YA lit. Nina is smart, but dorky (boy can I identify with that one). She is also the little sis of a certified genius, which makes school difficult (which, though I am no genius, my younger sister always complained about following me and the expectations that go with). I also love that Nina has problems with her family, but loves them. She's not fighting against her Pakistani ...more
Kim Lee
Jul 24, 2016 Kim Lee rated it it was ok
Two stars.

The title and the summary on the back cover is very misleading. Sure, Nina Khan has a stripe of hair down her back (much like a skunk's) however, that's not even what the book is centered on. This insecurity is merely mentioned in passing once or twice or thrice. I feel like the book should have a different title.

Moreover, nothing much was happening in the story. There was barely any plot development, miniscule character development, and a very unsatisfactory and flat ending. It's just
May 16, 2014 Jody rated it liked it
Shelves: teen, race
Nina sticks out - she's the only Muslim in her school and her parents are super strict. She's got a couple of good girl friends but there's no way in the world she'd be allowed to date a boy (or go to parties, or dances, etc.)

Nina struggles with her desire to fit in, to have a crush on a boy, and to please her parents. I thought this was handled quite well. I also really liked how she talked about being self-conscious about her body hair. That's not an insecurity/issue I see a lot in teen lit.

Ananya Percypotter
Dec 04, 2012 Ananya Percypotter rated it did not like it
Not the best, really...
Feb 16, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 22, 2009 Additeenlibrarian rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Nina is a Pakistani-American girl. Her parents are pretty conservative, especially about what she can do. But Nina lives in a small town, where finding a lot of sympathy and support from her friends isn't so easy. She still faces all of the average American teenager situations - a cute boy who is dating someone else, a pretty girl at school who seems to have it out for her, parties with beer, and friends who are spending more and more time with their boyfriends. Nina can't talk to her parents or ...more
Oct 05, 2009 Meredith rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sneha Kedar

I ordered this book for my sister(a teen), as she was fascinated by the title ‘Skunk Girl’. Well, she read it and kept on saying me that this book rocks. It made me curious and I thought of reading it too. So, here I am writing the review of ‘Skunk Girl’.

Let me start with the basic idea of story.
Nina Khan is a sixteen year old Pakistani girl who was born and brought up in Deer Hook. Coming from conservative Pakistani family, she has many restrictions. No sleepovers, no parties, no talking to boy
Aug 08, 2009 cecilia rated it really liked it
Although skunk girl channeled the typical girl-likes-boy-but-too-uncool-to-get-him-to-notice story, I thought it was still pretty unique since Nina came from a South Asian background. One of my very good friends from college is Pakistani, so as I read skunk girl, I was picturing my friend as Nina and wondering how her high school experience went. Not to mention, I could semi-relate to Nina's experiences since I am Vietnamese - a similar social situation, though I would say that Nina was more suc ...more
Ms. B
Feb 27, 2010 Ms. B rated it liked it
Shelves: multicultural, ya
Bleaching her mustache and missing out on all the best parties are part of what Nina’s come to expect as a Pakistani-American teen with the strictest parents in town. At the start of her junior year in high school, she’s still living in the shadow of her genius older sister and still trying to figure out how to keep up socially in spite of her family’s fear that she’s becoming too “Um-ree-can-ized.”

Then the unexpected happens: Nina meets an attractive Italian exchange student named Asher—and Ash
Mar 06, 2010 Terry rated it liked it
Shelves: grrrl-reads
This was a fun read, and this is not at ALL the sort of book I like. Karim's Nina journeys along the familiar YA paths of romance and friendships and school and family. I really enjoyed the non-melodramatic nature of the book; so much of the YA I've read lately has a sinister edge that reading a book without it felt refreshing. This isn't to say that Nina's problems aren't real or that Karim doesn't build up tension, but that these things unfold in natural, plausible ways. This story offers an g ...more
Nov 14, 2013 Kricket rated it really liked it
several years ago i read Does My Head Look Big In This? and found it cloying and preachy, and the comments on my review got kind of out of control, but whatevs, i digress. what i'm trying to say is that "skunk girl" provides a different perspective on growing up as a teen muslim in the minority, and i personally prefer this view.

nina khan's parents came from pakistan to have their family in deer hook, new york. nina is the only muslim at her high school and is not allowed to attend parties or g
Kim Trusty
Jun 27, 2015 Kim Trusty rated it it was amazing
Absolute gem of a novel! Karim's "Skunk Girl" is hilarious, heart breaking and hopeful in equal measure. Nina Khan is an American-Pakistani, Muslim high school junior attempting to navigate the murky waters of small town adolescence. Loved that there were no easy answers or simplistic portrayals here - just a young woman trying to figure it all out.Gutted to find that it's out of print, as would love to have a copy in the store.
Mar 12, 2015 Clare rated it liked it
I wanted to like this more than I did, though I liked it well enough. Wish there had been more of a problem (and thus more of a resolution), but what is here is pleasant enough. I'm also probably biased because I love books with POC (and especially WOC) narrators, so there were a lot of immigrant parents/second gen/POC-specific gripes that Nina brought up that I could really connect to.
Nov 20, 2014 Lesley rated it liked it
Shelves: real, multicultural, teen
A good read-alike for "Does My Head Look Big in This?" We need more teen books about being a Muslim in America; in this case being the daughter of Pakistani immigrants. Should resonate with girls going through similar experiences: conflict between the desire to please strict, protective parents who want her to go to an Ivy League school and the desire to pursue her own interests in hanging out with friends and kissing the half-Italian, half-Jewish boy she has a crush on. Also the search for the ...more
May 18, 2010 Sarah rated it liked it
Liked it!

Good protagonist, realistic story, not too funny or dramatic, quick to read. The strict parents remain likeable and readers see the good things about their stable and loving home, while still sympathizing with the daughter's frustrations about fitting in or experiencing "normal" teen life.

The book is set in the early 1990s. If readers don't notice the date references, they'll wonder why Nina isn't texting, emailing, or using an iPod. Are they yet more things her strict parents have ban
else fine
Aug 11, 2010 else fine rated it liked it
Shelves: read2008, ya
An interesting take on teen angst from a Muslim perspective, with an engaging narrator and a sympathetic portrayal of her strict but loving family. Unlike most mainstream American young adult novels, the narrator struggles to reconcile her own personal desires with the demands of her culture, and finds that sacrifice has its own rewards. This book would probably make a valuable addition to high school libraries, with its likable characters and balanced depiction of Islamic values. As a general r ...more
This short book packs in a lot of discussions of disequilibrium as the daughter of immigrant parents' struggles to negotiate both her teenage American identity and the traditional values of her Pakistani-Muslim family. The quick narrative just gives glimpses of the culture battles with a strong central theme of self-acceptance. None of this story is necessarily new and I wish the discussions about race and assimilation were more developed, but the main character's pessimism lends a genuine teena ...more
Dec 02, 2012 Utbtkids rated it really liked it
Will recommend it for 15+

I thought Sheba explored the identity bit from a different POV. I am so used to the Jumpha Lahiri style of ABCD, you are a misfit and will always be style, after a point it gets boring.

What I liked abt Skunk Girl is that it was optimistic, it is not just the second generation factor that makes some children feel like misfits, but it is often wanting more responsibility to just come knocking without the initiative that goes with it.

I feel that to some extent children in I
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 38 39 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Broken Moon
  • Beginner's Luck (Hallie Palmer, #1)
  • Jazz in Love
  • Crossing Jordan
  • Wanting Mor
  • Child of Dandelions
  • Ask Me No Questions
  • Finding My Place
  • Det händer nu
  • Granta 112: Pakistan
  • Extreme American Makeover (First Daughter, #1)
  • Iris: Fiori di cenere
  • Ombra
  • Girls for Breakfast
  • Shooting Star
  • Beneath My Mother's Feet
  • If America Were a Village: A Book about the People of the United States
  • Mare's War
My first novel was Skunk Girl. My next young adult novel, That Thing We Call a Heart, is out in May 2017. It features complex, Muslim-American characters who defy conventional stereotypes and is set against a backdrop of Radiohead’s music and the evocative metaphors of Urdu poetry.

I edited the anthology Alchemy: Th
More about Sheba Karim...

Share This Book