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The Beauty of Your Face

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  1,931 ratings  ·  396 reviews
A Palestinian American woman wrestles with faith, loss, and identity before coming face-to-face with a school shooter in this searing debut.

A uniquely American story told in powerful, evocative prose, The Beauty of Your Face navigates a country growing ever more divided. Afaf Rahman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, is the principal of Nurrideen School for Girls, a
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published April 7th 2020 by W. W. Norton Company
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Sydney Hi Gabriella,
There are some mentions of teenage activities - nothing too graphic though and it is very tastefully handled and not at all gratuitous t…more
Hi Gabriella,
There are some mentions of teenage activities - nothing too graphic though and it is very tastefully handled and not at all gratuitous to the story.
A brilliant book - I would highly recommend. (less)

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Average rating 4.20  · 
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 ·  1,931 ratings  ·  396 reviews

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Nilufer Ozmekik
Jan 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Another book created complex, controversial feelings in my heart and my mind at the same time.As soos as I read blurb about Palestinian girls school shooting, it really got my attention but this book is not what I expected!

I think I feel like I read two different books trapped in one book’s pages: One of them is taking a place at Nurrideen School for Girl’s brutal shooting and the other one is about a Palestinian American woman, Afaf’s life story from the beginning of her child, the struggles h
The Beauty of Your Face is quite easily my favourite read of the year. Undoubtedly one of the best debuts I have read. Sahar is a magnificent storyteller, and one of the very few authors that has succeeded in doing Islam/Muslim rep justice. She has managed to capture the true essence of what it means to find Islam and be unapologetically Muslim. She beautifully portrays how the path leading to faith is non-linear — no two journeys are the same, but all are very valid. ⠀

The range of topics cover
4.5 stars rounded up

This was almost a 5 star book, but there are a few, very small things that held it back. *Very, very small.* I can't quite put my finger on all of them, but I find I'm unsatisfied with this review as a whole because I'm still ruminating. It's been a couple days and I still don't seem to have my thoughts together on it. What follows is not my best review, but the best I could come up with for now...

I'm trying to separate this book and discuss it on its own merits and not const
Jenny (Reading Envy)
In my year of focus on books from and about the Middle East, I'm sure this won't be the last novel featuring Palestinian immigrants (it's number 2 or 3 just this year.) Afaf's parents raised her in the states and she becomes a principle at a Muslim girls school in the Midwest. The storyline moves between her childhood (which includes her sister's disappearance) and various points in her adult life, including an increase in devotion to her faith and going on a hajj with some of her family. A scho ...more
Saajid Hosein
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars. This was an excellent read. I haven't been this emotionally invested in a story for a while. ...more
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written! So haunting and desolate, but tinged with hope and resilience. This #ownvoices book tackles some emotionally-heavy and vastly important topics - so relevant in our world today. Religion, family, prejudice, community, racism, loyalty, forgiveness, identity. They're all woven together so beautifully!

The flashbacks to Afaf's complex past carry the majority of the story, and build the basis for how Afaf reacts to coming face to face with a shooter at the school where she works.
Reading Robyn
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I’m so glad I read this. As an Iraqi war veteran this was something that I needed to read. I’ve never had any hatred for Muslims but there was a time that I was apprehensive. I remember sitting in the library in middle school watching the Twin Towers fall. I was in the 8th grade. I had no idea how the world would change. As a young adult I joined the Army. I’ve been to Iraq. I was on a base that got hit by mortar rounds. I’ve been on my knees in prayer that I would make it home to my son. I ...more
This is a book of two stories.
The first is of Afaf, the middle child of a Palestinian refugee family living in suburban Chicago. Her parents are struggling, especially after the elder daughter disappears. As the years pass Afaf becomes more rebellious but takes a new path when she and her father reconnect with Islam. In these sections the author's love and respect for Islam shines as does Afaf's determination to live wearing a hijab. The bigotry she mets is quite threatening.
Interweaved with Afa
Inquisitive Bookworm
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-releases
Complex and gorgeously written, THE BEAUTY OF YOUR FACE by Sahar Mustafah follows Afaf Rahman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants and principal of a Muslim school for girls in the suburbs of Chicago, as she grapples with the terrifying reality of a radicalized school shooter. The novel switches between Afaf’s present and past, facing prejudice, racism, and xenophobia as a child amidst her sister’s devastating disappearance.

I think it’s pretty clear from the synopsis that there’s a lot going
Kim Lockhart
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you've ever felt like an outcast, this book is for you. It's a celebration of the powerful beautiful tenacity that it takes to overcome the attempts at "othering" which are too often thrust upon the most vulnerable among us. We all seek to belong: family, friendships, romantic relationships. We all want to be loved. There are more differences within a group than there are between groups. We seek to be validated for our individual selves and not dismissed with crude labels. The strength of sel ...more
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This gem of a novel knocked me off my feet with its complex Muslim characters and insight and heartbreak and light. I basically read it in one sitting. Every so often I come across a book that is not just a good book, it’s an incredible accomplishment and changes the way I see books, and this is one of those reads. I highly highly recommend. All the stars. This was a library book but I am so ordering a copy now! Booktube video coming soon.
Nov 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
How..was this..a debut???

Intertwining the past and the present, we take a look into the life of Afaf whose family escape Palestine and to which she holds no memories being born in the United States. The delve into the cultures, history and communities that Afaf navigates into adulthood is explored exquisitely; whilst we also learn the motives behind the school shooter that corners her.

The writing was sublime. For such a complex and dark plot this was handled to perfection.

The characters were co
Feb 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Never have I ever read a fiction book and felt like I was reading someone real's memoir, till now.
This book was pitched to me as a story about a school shooting, but it was way more than that.
I usually think books are doors and mirrors. Doors to the stories I can't relate to, but want to understand more about and learn how it is to be in someone else's shoes, and mirrors to the stories I seek intentionally to relate to someone or learn more about myself and either understand more or feel unders
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A profound debut into the significance of the Arab-Muslim identity in America, The Beauty of Your Face fleshes out a veritably raw narrative detailing the struggles of a culturally conflicted Palestinian woman. One can discuss the meaning of the Arab/Muslim-Western identity till the cows come home, but frankly, it's tiresome reading book after book on the implications of being ‘other’ in the West. Instead, one yearns for a novel that indeed centres around identity, but does not revolve around th ...more
The Beauty of Your Face is the debut novel of prize-winning short-story writer Sahar Mustafah. It describes a brutal shooting at a Muslim school in the Chicago suburbs – the Nurrideen School for Girls – a tragic event which climaxes with a tense confrontation between the alt-right shooter and the school’s principal Afaf Rahman.

The story of the shooting, presented over a series of short chapters spread throughout the novel, provides a frame for a much more interesting narrative – an account of A
The Book Club
Nov 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sahar Mustafah is an amazing story teller, and her debut novel is the perfect reflection of her talent. The story’ structure hovered between the past and present and it was touching to see how Afaf matures from a young lost girl to a loving married woman.

The Beauty of your face has become quite easily my favourite read, the topics covered are pertinent, extensive and important - with xenophobia, complexity of familiar relationships and immigrant experience at the forefront.
We read about Afaf Ra
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars rounding up for this readable (or listenable, in this case) story of a Palestinian-American woman’s journey of faith and overcoming obstacles. The present-day plot line felt grafted on and some aspects were implausible, but I enjoyed the time I spent with Afaf and appreciated the role Islam played in her life.
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Legend Press for this arc in exchange for an honest review.

This book was incredible and so poignant and just made me feel all the emotions. Highly recommend this book!

This is such a profound book, a book where I felt so seen on so many levels. What it means to be a child of immigrants. Of parents who left everything and everyone behind to try to start a new life where their children will be safe but how they have to still battle, it’s just a different type of battle. One of having t
Umama A. Talha
"Nothing can stand in our path towards God. We cannot give in to fear habibti. Muslimeen have endured worse in the history of man. We cannot lose faith."

The story centres around the life of a Palestinian-American Muslim woman Afaf Rahman who's a daughter to Palestinian immigrant family and the principal at Nuruddin Girls' School in Chicago suburbs. She has a complex childhood with a mother longing to go back to her homeland and a father who starts drinking after the devastated disappearance of h
Kimba Tichenor
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Beautifully written, this book seamlessly moves backward and forward in time to tell the complex story of one Palestinian-American woman's efforts to create a life for herself and her family in a country whose ideal of equality and freedom of worship do not always match its reality. The opening scene of this novel is a school shooting at all-girl Muslim high school outside of Chicago. As Afaf hears the shooter progress through the school at which she is the principal, she remembers her painful c ...more
Vicki Antipodean Bookclub
“This circle of women and their daughters propel her to do good, to love Allah, and learn that His Love reflects back once you open your heart. Before she could fathom His great bounty, she had loved these women first, could touch and gather their kindness in her hands, could wrap herself in their grace until she could start to love herself again.”
As someone who doesn’t always read the synopsis and likes to open a book without any preconceived ideas, the opening of The Beauty of Your Face cau
Aamna Mishra
Oct 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
”𝘐𝘵’𝘴 𝘯𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘰𝘰 𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘦. 𝘌𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 𝘥𝘢𝘺 𝘸𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘣𝘦 𝘣𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳. 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦'𝘴 𝘯𝘰 𝘭𝘪𝘮𝘪𝘵. 𝘕𝘰 𝘦𝘯𝘥. 𝘠𝘰𝘶 𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘦, 𝘈𝘧𝘢𝘧.”

Afaf Rahman, principal of an all-girls Muslim school and daughter of Palestinian immigrants, wakes up one morning, goes about her daily schedule and suddenly left shaken to the core as a shooter attacks the school.

This is just the beginning and from here onwards we follow her childhood journey to the present shooting day.

Young Afaf was lost in an empty world. A child yearning for acceptanc
I’m not sure this is the book I expected it to be. I did read a professional review and interview with the author so I knew going in that it shifts from the shooting to Afaf’s, the main character and principal of the Nurrideen School for Girls, childhood and early life. I didn’t hate that structure necessarily but I think something was missing here or off balance. There are difficult and perhaps controversial (though personally while other reviewers on this site choose to use that word, uh, I’m ...more
Heather Fineisen
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Authentic depiction of a Muslim woman in America. A principle at a private school for Muslim girls, a gunman enters the school. The parts that follow alternate between her life story and her current situation. Detailed and well written.

Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley
Elisabeth Manley
Dec 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Our first 7C Book Club success with a great discussion last night!

This book was not what I was originally expecting, with it’s main focus being on Afaf’s coming of age story as opposed to the present day school shooting. It briefly bounces back to present day at times from the shooter’s perspective but this could have been more fleshed out - I read that the author wanted to give him a bit of a backstory but without giving him too much attention so it makes sense it was brief but I did just want
Abbie | ab_reads
I bought a copy of The Beauty of Your Face after watching @sofia_reading host an extremely interesting interview with the author, Sahar Mustafah, on her IG page! The interview is still up on Sofia's IGTV, and I highly recommend you go watch it, and you'll probably end up buying yourself a copy too!
Mustafah takes on a lot with this book, but she handles it all with a deftness that's impressive. The book opens up with a devastating scene in an all-girls Muslim school in Chicago, when an alt-right
Anna Curran
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is probably a 4.5 star review, as I felt there were some parts that maybe could've been better developed. This was a beautifully written book about a Palestinian American woman and her life growing up with various family troubles, as well as having to face racism etc. Honestly I feel like the second timeline that is about the shooting in the Muslim school she teaches at wasn't really necessary, as the other timeline felt like the most important and well written. I really connected with the ...more
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely incredible book. One of my favourites of all time for sure, and I will spend forever encouraging others to read this powerful book.

Not only does it depict the experience of being a child of Arab, Muslim immigrants in North America, it also talks about loss, and finding purpose without being preachy regarding God or religion.

I will always hold this book so close to my heart. ❤️
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's always so much more difficult to summarise your thoughts on a book that you loved, in particular when it was so harrowing that 'love' or 'enjoy' are not words you can use lightly. But, since I have to do it, I'll say that The Beauty of Your Face was a beautiful, heart-wrenching masterpiece. Sahar Mustafah writes soulfully through to the bittersweet end.

As a Muslim woman myself, I felt Afaf's plight. I felt her pain in every racial slur. I felt her grief in every loss. I felt seen, I felt h
Biblio Bushra
Aug 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Link to review:

As someone who is Muslim and wears hijab, it’s relatively unsurprising that the front cover of The Beauty Of Your Face caught my eye. In some ways, I feel a little cheated, although I completely understand the choice of book cover. The novel is predominantly not a Muslim story, but about the American-born daughter of Palestinian immigrants who struggles to find the very best version of herself between the Palestinian culture of her parents
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Sahar Mustafah is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants. Her short stories have been awarded the Guild Literary Complex Prize for fiction, a Distinguished Story honor from Best American Short Stories, and three Pushcart Prize nominations, among other honors. She writes and teaches outside of Chicago.

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