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Skunk Girl Book Report

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Bayan Ajjeh

on 18 December 2012

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Transcript of Skunk Girl Book Report

Skunk Girl
By Sheba Karim The major reason I chose this book is because I could relate to it. She's a Muslim girl living in a non-Islamic society facing all the struggles of being a minority. Since I’m a Muslim girl as well living in Canada, I thought that it’d be interesting to see the struggles she faces and how she handles them. Although the struggles aren’t identical to mine, the feelings and emotions she feels are somewhat similar. I didn't admire the way she handled the peer pressure, because she ended up giving in to all her desires. Giving into your desires often causes consequences, so the main character, Nina, gave into peer pressure and did everything her parents told her not to do. This is where me and the character are very different. I can withstand the pressure of society a lot more than that. However, I chose the book thinking it would be very similar to my situation, and realized it wasn't completely. The same feelings, yet different actions and results. Why did you choose this book? The plot line of the story unfolded very slowly. Basically, Nina lives with her parents and attends Deer creek High school. Coming from a Pakistani family, her parents are very overprotective and control many aspects of her life. They’re constantly lecturing her about her thoughts and opinions, which causes Nina to stress. As a teenager, one of her biggest concerns is fitting in to her high school and she feels she cant do that with her parents on her back. At first, she starts out complaining about her social life, and more into the story you realize she’s starting to take action. When she meets a boy named Asher, who she really likes, she starts sacrificing her beliefs for him. She gets a ride home from him and lies to her parents about it. After meeting Asher, she starts to obsess more over her physical appearance in order to impress him. Nina nicknames herself skunk girl after Asher notices a strip of hair running down her back, which she relates to that of a skunk. The plot seems to have a “tug of war” vibe to it as the character’s Americanized self plays against her Pakistani origins. When she goes to a Pakistani gathering where the woman are talking about marriage and which prospective husbands there are in the community, Nina realizes that she doesn't believe in a lot of what her traditions claim. What's the plot? When I first picked up the book and started reading I was definitely intrigued by it. The events and emotions that the character in the book shares is very relative to my own. Since I felt a connection with the character, I was more encouraged to read the book and find out what happens! The narration of the book has quite a sense of humour, which relaxes the reader and guarantees you a very fun and humorous reading experience! Throughout the book, I learnt a lot about the Pakistani culture. Some of what I knew, and some that I found extremely interesting! The main character of the back comes from a Pakistani cultural background, so the problems she faces teach you of the different aspects of the culture. Whether it be the clothing worn, the food eaten, or the traditions practices, your bound to learn a lot about Pakistan and its enriched culture. This book deals with a lot of issues that teenagers can relate to. Peer pressure, fitting in, culture clashes, parental problems, relationships etc. This is why this book is a great read! Not only will you enjoy reading it, but you’ll definitely be able to relate to it on many different levels! Did you enjoy the book? The genre of the book was young adult fiction. The story was very realistic and based on very common events that occur in your typical life. High school drama, over protective parental issues, crushes and feelings, planning your education/future etc. What was the Genre? Id say that this book was very well written. The characters were very realistic, and the events that took place were believable. Once you started reading the book, you wont be able to stop. I found a lot of writing tools in the novel whether it be metaphors, symbolism, imagery, sarcasm, exaggeration etc. These tools helped me as a reader, understand and feel what the characters were feeling. The thoughts in the book were well organized and very easy to understand. I found this to be great, since when reading a book, I don't like to think too hard to comprehend what going on, and this was a very light read! Was it well Written? The main character of the story is Nina who is a 16 year old high school student from Pakistan who faces many different problems. These internal and external conflicts that occur shape her as a character, and we (as the readers) get to see how these conflicts change her for better/worse. Farzana, Helen, Bridget, Asher, and Sonia are other characters included in the book that play important roles in influencing the theme. Farzana is Nina’s very overprotective mom who is culturally/religiously strict. Since Nina and her family are Muslim, Farzana constantly reminds Nina of how important following her religion is, and how her decision must not influence her religion negatively. Helen and Bridget are Nina’s two best friends who have known Nina for a long time, and try to help Nina overcome the obstacles she faces and the problems she goes through. Asher is Nina’s crush throughout the book whom she longs to be with but cannot because of her cultural and religious obligations. Last but not least, Sonia is Nina’s older sister who is considered a genius. Nina is always compared to Sonia in her school and family, which has affected Nina negatively in many ways. Which characters play important roles that relate to the overall theme? Have you ever felt like an outsider? No matter what you did you didn’t fit in with everyone else. This is how Nina khan feels. In the novel “Skunk Girl”, Nina is a 16 year old girl in highschool going through every problem you could think of. Friends, relationships, enemies, family, education, religion, you name it! Through the book we see how Nina handles these problems to the best of her ability, and how she grows as a character throughout. She tries to juggle her desires with her responsibilities and that ends up pushing her over the top. From all the pressure she faces at home to be “more like” her older sister Sonia who’s literally a genius, and the pressure to include her religion and culture in every aspect of her life end up pushing her to do the wrong things. She starts seeking attention from a boy named asher, drinking and partying, obsessing over her looks and physical features, ignoring her studies, etc. However, since mistakes teach us valuable lessons, she learned to be more confident with herself and love herself for who she is. Introduction When I first picked up the book and started reading I was definitely intrigued by it. The events and emotions that the character in the book shares is very relative to my own. Since I felt a connection with the character, I was more encouraged to read the book and find out what happens! The narration of the book has quite a sense of humour, which relaxes the reader and guarantees you a very fun and humorous reading experience! Throughout the book, I learnt a lot about the Pakistani culture. Some of what I knew, and some that I found extremely interesting! The main character of the back comes from a Pakistani cultural background, so the problems she faces teach you of the different aspects of the culture. Whether it be the clothing worn, the food eaten, or the traditions practices, your bound to learn a lot about Pakistan and its enriched culture. This book deals with a lot of issues that teenagers can relate to. Peer pressure, fitting in, culture clashes, parental problems, relationships etc. This is why this book is a great read! Not only will you enjoy reading it, but you’ll definitely be able to relate to it on many different levels! Did you enjoy the book? The genre of the book was young adult fiction. The story was very realistic and based on very common events that occur in your typical life. High school drama, over protective parental issues, crushes and feelings, planning your education/future etc. What was the Genre? Id say that this book was well written. The characters were very realistic, and the events that took place were believable. Once you started reading the book, you won't be able to stop. I found a lot of writing tools in the novel whether it be metaphors, symbolism, imagery, sarcasm, exaggeration etc. These tools helped me as a reader, understand and feel what the characters were feeling. The thoughts in the book were well organized and very easy to understand. I found this to be a good choice of book material, since when reading a book, I don't like to think too hard to comprehend what going on, and this was a very light read! Was it well Written? The tone of the book was somewhat depressing yet humorous.
You sense that the character was in a constant battle with herself in order to achieve happiness. Nina was always looking at the negative side of everything that occurred to her, which caused her to be unsatisfied with everything she had, and always looking for more. Although she had two parents that love her, two best friends that are there for her, Good grades, and a bright future, she overlooked all these factors just because she didn't feel socially acceptable. Her parents tried to push there cultural and religious teachings on Nina and caused her more pressure that she didn't think she could handle. she wanted to please herself and her desires, yet please her parents and respect their wishes. This is a very common dilemma that many people face today, juggling their emotions and expectations. However, the tone that was used in the writing was rather a depressing and gloomy tone. The wording was negative, but this negativity helped show the readers how much Nina grew as a character towards the end of the book. Therefore, although the tone was quite gloomy, this was a crucial way to unfold the plot of the book. Did you notice a tone? Unfortunately, this book is not part of a series.  Is this book a part of a series? The book definitely included a bias approach. Since Nina's parents come from a Pakistani background, they are used to the culture and the teachings. Because of this, they feel the need to push this culture on their two daughters who have lived in America their whole lives. This isn't entirely wrong, since preservation of culture is crucially important, however their biased opinions on boys, friends, studies etc caused a lot of unwanted and unneeded pressure on Nina and Sonia. When Nina was sitting with her Pakistani friends at a family/friends gathering, the girls started discussing relationships. Huma, Nina's friend mentioned that there was a boy in her life who came from a white background who proposed to her. At this point, everyone was horrified since they knew Huma's parents would never allow her to wed someone from a white background. Although its understandable for parents to want their kids to wed someone of their own culture, its not fair to prevent a girl from marrying someone she truly loves. Huma was put in a situation where she had to choose between her happiness and her parents happiness. Unfortunately, she compromised her own for her parents, and ended up marrying a Pakistani man whom she didn't even love or know much. This isn't just, since a young girl shouldn't have to sacrifice her own happiness to please her parents. There should be a balance between the two, without making the girl miserable. The Pakistani culture in her parent's mindset Was there an obvious slant or bias? caused a lot of misconceptions for Nina. Every time she wanted to go out with her friends, her parents would lecture her. When a boy called her house to ask her to bring something for a bake sale that was being held, her parents lectured her about how talking to boys is wrong, and how what may start off as an innocent relationship can bloom into a teenage pregnancy. This isn't fair, because their way of thinking is way too extreme, which causes Nina to rebel and take drastic measures (drinking, partying, dating) which are against her religion. Another biased opinion they had was that Sonia (Nina's older sister) must get married around the age of 20 otherwise all the good men will be taken, and no woman would want to wed her to their son if she gets too old. In this society, that is not true at all. There are woman out there who get married very late in life, and others that don't get married at all. Although, its not wrong to get married at a young age, pushing someone who isn't ready to get married is stripping them of their own free will. With the mother constantly nagging Sonia to look for a nice boy to wed, she put a big stress on their relationship, which caused Sonia to dislike speaking to her mother.  I didn't find the ending to be really satisfying. The plot was a little weak considering it played out very slowly. Towards the end she ends up doing everything she's wanted to do (partying, kissing Asher, etc.) since her parents aren't in the country. This portrays that the solution to her problems was waiting until her parents were gone to do what she wanted, even if what she wanted to was wrong and went against her religion and beliefs. The ending would have been better if they showed some consequences she had to deal with for her actions but there were no consequences and Nina went on happily. This is problematic as it causes a misconception, that disobeying your parents wishes and your religions teachings can cause happiness without any pain. Although she did grow as a character and became stronger and more confident with herself, she still couldn't express herself freely. She couldn't stand up and say “I'm Pakistani, my culture is enriched with beautiful traditions and I'm going to follow my beliefs, and try to withstand all the pressure”. Therefore this caused a bit of confusion for me, since her character grew weaker and stronger at the same time. She was strong enough to form a relationship with her sister and forgive her, yet she wasn't strong enough to say no to drinking. This confusion caused me to believe that the ending wasn't the best it could have been. Was the ending satisfactory? The author, Sheba Karim was born and raised in Catskill, NY and writes fiction for young adults as well as adults. She graduated from New York University School of Law her book “skunk girl” was published in the U.S , Denmark, India, Italy, and Sweden. This book was a big success for Sheba, as it appeared in 580 split, Asia Literary review, Barn own review, EGO, Kartika Review, Shenandoah, South Asian Review, Time out Delhi etc. Sheba Karim was awarded a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar research grant in the year of 2009-2010. This grant helped her research her current project, which was a fiction novel set in the 13th century In India. She is also a blogger, blogging about cheap food restaurants in New York at www.cheaptoboot.com. What else do you know about the author? Who's point of views is the story told from? The story is told from the point of view of Nina, the main character. So, with every problem that Nina goes through, you better understand her and her characteristics. At the end of the book, you form a good idea of who she is as a character, and where her priorities and beliefs are. Since this book is written from a first person point of view, you aren't able to understand exactly how the other characters in the story are feeling. You can assume, but you wont know much about the characters, except what the narrator tells you. A collage of Skunk Girl Basic Information about the book Author: Sheba Karim
Published: 2009 Basic description of the book: Nina khan is a sixteen year old muslim Pakistani girl who was brought in Deer hook and attends Deer Hook secondary school. She leads a very conservative life, where she's restricted from doing alot of what her friends do. No partying, no boys, no dating, no sleepovers etc. With all these restrictions and rules, Nina feels like a freak. Throughout the story, she connects with different people who teach her different life lessons that help shape her as a person. This tug of war between Nina's social life and cultural life pushes Nina to discover and understand herself better and accept her ethnicity. Do you recommend this book? Although I really did enjoy the book, I don't recommend it for everyone. Towards the end of the book, I started asking myself "What was the point of this book?". The book wasn't as action packed and didn't have much moral meaning either. I did enjoy seeing the character grow and learn from her experiences, however I feel as if there were a lot of misconceptions crammed in the book. For example, the fact that she ended up drinking to try and solve her problem is very cliche. Towards the end of the book, when her and Asher got together, and agreed that things may not work out, the author made it look very simple to move on from a person you truly care about. Some parts of the story were far too stereotypical which I didn't like, because its better to destroy stereotypes than build them. Did you notice re-occurring symbols? The major symbol used in the book had to be the nickname "skunk girl". The reason Nina nicknamed herself skunk girl wasn't only because she had a strip of hair running down her back which resembled that of a skunk's white strip, but because she saw herself as unappealing and disgusting, just like humans see skunks as animals. She felt as if she, being the unattractive "Skunk girl" that she is, couldn't possibly fit in anywhere, because no one would accept a "skunk". towards the end of the story however, she shaved the strip of hair running down her back, off. In doing so, it symbolized how she no longer sees herself as a skunk girl, but an appealing person. At first she didnt shave it off ,because of her parents wishes, but when she realized that she has to do what suits her, she ended up shaving it off. This symbolizes the change she's went through and the new and improved Nina, not Skunk Girl Nina.
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