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The Beauty of Your Face

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  72 ratings  ·  38 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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 ·  72 ratings  ·  38 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 books pages: One of them is taking a place at Nurrideen School for Girls brutal shooting and the other one is about a Palestinian American woman, Afafs life story from the beginning of her child, the struggles her
Ana (inquisitivebookworm)
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 Afafs present and past, facing prejudice, racism, and xenophobia as a child amidst her sisters devastating disappearance.

I think its pretty clear from the synopsis that theres a lot going on
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.
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 ...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
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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Afaf Rahman grew up as the second-best daughter in her family of immigrants from Palestine. Nada was the favorite oldest daughter and shattered the family when, as a teenager, she ran away from home. I fell quickly into the rhythm of the plot and the depiction of each of the family members. Afaf, after much struggle, becomes a teacher, and the novel opens with a scene of carnage in the Islamic school for girls where she is a principal.
Mar 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
"The Beauty of Your Face" is the story of a Palestinian-American educator named Afaf, as she faces a shooter in a Muslim school for girls in the suburbs of Chicago. The story alternates between present time faced with the shooter, and her difficult upbringing marred by the disappearance of her teenage sister. With clear and evocative prose, Sahar Mustafah invites empathy, shock, and outright disgust towards the discrimination Afaf experiences as a young Muslim woman learning to embrace her ...more
Lori Tatar
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah is a beautiful yet heartbreaking story about a girl who grows up in a shattered family. She becomes an educated woman of faith, with two masters degrees and leads an all-girls school as its principal. The school is faith-based and is attacked by a bigoted lone gunman with whom she finds herself face-to-face.

This is a gripping, deeply moving tale that explores familial relations, love, mental illness and sacrifice in an exquisite manner that is easily
Feb 06, 2020 marked it as physical_to-read_stack
I received my copy free through Goodreads Giveaways.
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book is a sobering look into anti-Muslim bigotry. Afaf, the principal of an all-girls Muslim school, listens in horror as a shooter storms the building. As this transpires, we are taken on a journey through Afafs memories.

We learn about her early upbringing that included deep loss and profound racism, and as she finds her faith, we see her transform into a woman with conviction and self-worth.

This is a painful and
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-beta, pccr-reads
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

This book took me totally by surprise. When I first read the description, I was wary, but I am so glad I stuck it out. While most who read the description may focus on the words such as Muslim and school shooting, this book is so much more than that. It is a nuanced, heart-breaking and beautiful coming-of-age story that will give readers of all ages and backgrounds something to relate to.

So what is this book
Feb 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020-reads
This book is a tough one to read. Especially given the political climate we are in, and the horror Trump has brought to the office, this is a story that is both timely and unfortunately plausible.

This story was a lot different than I was expected based on the blurb. It turned out to be the story of a lost, young woman, who found herself through religion. Her family immigrated to the U.S. from Palestine, and her her siblings where born in the U.S. Her older sister disappears, and her family life
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Sahar Mustafah has managed to write a novel that resonates deeply with readers. Her characters are all at once complex and deeply flawed. The Beauty of Your Face takes readers along on Principal Afaf Rahman's life journey in a series of flashbacks as she grapples with the reality that her Muslim school for girls is under attack by an active shooter. The author paints a poignant picture of tragedy and heartache in a tribute to all Americans who are targeted for the color of their skin or the ...more
Mar 18, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Afaf is having a normal day as the principal of an all-girls Muslim school that has been converted from a nunnery. She takes a quick break to pray in an old confessional booth when suddenly she hears gunshots above.

The reader is then transported back in time to Afaf's childhood. Her sister disappears, leading her father to drink and her mother's mental health spiraling. Afaf makes questionable choices as a teenager. Islam enters the family's life, rescuing Afaf and Baba from their
Susie | Novel Visits
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Note: I received a copy of this book from W.W. Norton Company (via NetGalley) in exchange for my honest review.

The Beauty of Your Face begins as Afaf Rahman walks away from her office at the Nurrideen Schoolofor Girls, a Muslim school. She slips away to a small room that years ago was a confessional when the building was originally a nunnery. This is where Afaf goes to do her morning prayers in private, but on this day, her prayers are interrupted by the terrifying sound of gunfire. This opening
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
While this book is powerful and important, it is intensely traumatic and won't be for every reader because of that.

A quick summary of the plot: Afaf is a principal at an all-girls private school for Muslims in Chicago. A shooter enters the building. The story shifts back and forth from present time in the school to Afaf's past as her past is explored through an omniscient narrator's perspective.

Afaf and her family endure hardship after hardship. Some of her family find comfort in their renewed
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
This amazing book follows Afaf, who is an American born child of Palestinian immigrants along with an older sister, Nada and a brother Majeed. She grows up through much adversity. Her mother has undiagnosed mental health issues and has not adjusted to life in America, therefore, has difficulty balancing the demands of every day life. She grieves for her home in Palestine and her husband does not know how to support her. Afafs father, in feeling loss himself, goes through a bout with alcoholism ...more
Nic Carnes
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs

I received this book as an ARC from the editors in exchange for an honest review.

While The Beauty of Your Face took almost no time at all to read, its taken me a little while to be able to write a review. Shahar Mustafah has crafted a brilliant, heartbreaking story- Im so glad I read this book.

Afaf Rahman lives her life amongst people who dont truly understand her. In her tumultuous teen years, her family experiences the unthinkable: the disappearance of her older sister. This profound loss
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gr-giveaway, own
True Rating: 3.5/5

The book is more about Afaf Rahman growing up and finding religion. She is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants living in Chicago. When she and her brother are little, their big sister, 17 year-old Nada, runs away from home, never to be seen or heard of again. That ultimately breaks her already dysfunctional parents.

Through the decades, we see Afaf become a "lost girl", embrace Islam, become a teacher, become principal of a Muslim school for girls, come face to face with a
Reading Robyn
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Im so glad I read this. As an Iraqi war veteran this was something that I needed to read. Ive 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. Ive been to Iraq. I was on a base that got hit by mortar rounds. Ive been on my knees in prayer that I would make it home to my son. I ...more
Kathleen Gray
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is terrific! Although this opens with a shooter in a school for Muslim girls, it's really the story of a family. Afaf is the younger daughter of a Palestinian American family. When her sister Nada goes missing, all bets are off. Her mother spins into distress, her father begins to drink, and eventually Afaf makes poor choices with regard to sex with boys. Her father's DUI, however, brings them both back to Islam and changes their lives immeasurably. It isn't easy for Afaf to wear the hijab ...more
Lynne Lambdin
Mar 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Sometimes I find it hard to truly rate how I feel about a story with such serious topics such as shootings and race. Because the topics are so sensitive, I often veer towards a kinder rating. Not a true rating. With The Beauty of Your Face, I decided that I was going to be honest despite the subject matter. While the story was very enlightening, I found it very average and honestly a little forgettable.

This was like the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of books. You get this intense introduction to the
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This novel is exquisite!

Not only is this book beautifully written, it is an escape into the world of Afaf and her family (her father being one of my favorites in this book) that kept me hooked and wanting to read and understand more about what it can be like as a Palestinian/Muslim American woman. This novel is a must-read in our political climate and transitions beautifully between Afaf's life and the horrifying realities of school shootings. I was especially captivated by the school shooting
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I had the delight of being introduced to this book by one of my blogger friends. I also love to read books by author's with different ethnic backgrounds. I think it gives a unique voice to a culture that would otherwise go untold. I believe it is extremely important to read books by a wide, diverse range of authors.. I think as a reader, it gives me a broader view and makes me more well-read. I also am better able to recommend books to my customers who are looking for books told from a unique ...more
Mar 27, 2020 added it
This is a haunting and beautiful book about so many things -- family, faith, prejudice, community and what they mean to each of us. It tells the story of Afaf, the second daughter in a Muslim family over the course of her life, including her eventual role as principal of an all-girls Muslim school in the Chicago suburbs. I love reading about the experiences of women from different cultures and of different faiths than my own. I visited Saudi Arabia for work several years ago and more recently ...more
Apr 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you to NetGalley and W.W. Norton and Company for the Advanced Reader's Copy!

Available April 7th!

Whew, Sahar Mustafah's "The Beauty of Your Face" is definitely a heavy piece. The story begins as Afaf Rahman, a second generation Palestinian American, finds herself at the mercy of a school shooter at her all girls Muslim American school in Chicago. It is a situation that is all too real for the millions of Muslim Americans today and Mustafah did a brilliant job of describing the large and
Jennifer Frevert
Mar 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Thank you to NetGalley and W. W. Norton & Company for the opportunity to read an ARC of this novel.

This book, while an interesting story, was not what I expected. The book centers around the life of Afaf, a Palestinian American woman, and the struggles she and her family endure throughout her life. The story of the shooting at a Muslim school for girls felt largely disconnected from the overall narrative. It seemed almost like two different stories. For some reason I also found it difficult
Nancy Mijangos
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

A Palestinian girl grows up bearing the loss of her older sister, an alcoholic father, and a mother who suffered from crippling depression. Afaf finds her faith and a passion for educating young women. The book centers on her feelings of inferiority as a girl and the strength she finds as a woman. When a tragedy occurs in the form of an attack of terror in the school where she serves as the principal, Afaf comes
Nicole Froio
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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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