From the tender age of six, Sahar has been in love with her best friend Nasrin. In Iran, homosexuality is a death sentence and the two young women live their passion in secret. Quiet, hardworking and profoundly in love with her friend, Sahar aims to get into Tehran University to study Medicine. For Nasrin, who has more money than sense, a career does not seem a very good option, and when junior doctor Reza comes to ask for her hand, she has no choice but to say yes.
Heartbroken, Sahar allows her gay cousin Ali to take her to a party where she will be able to meet “people like her”. Although not in her element, the young woman meets Parveen, a beautiful transsexual who goes to a group every week to share her experience. In her, Sahar sees her way out. If she becomes a man, she can marry Nasrin and not suffer her love in silence. The plan is perfect.
When I first read the synopsis, I was instantly drawn to the story. I have a great interest for the Middle East, for LGBTQ issues and LGBTQ issues in the Middle East sounded right up my alley. Unfortunately, If You Could Be Mine was a bit bland. I felt there was so much more that could have been developed and worked on, and I was a bit disappointed.
The writer does not seem to have any real experience of Iran. Everything sounds like a rehash of stories she might have heard from her parents or read about in other books. Her Iran has no soul, and it really just felt like something that could have happened in the USA or Europe. There was room for the book to be more controversial, for the issues to be addressed on a deeper level, for the flesh of the story to really bleed, but I was only rewarded by a safe book that merely touched upon a story that could be read about on Wikipedia.
I felt like this book should have delivered more than it did. I was hoping for a more thorough backdrop and a story that wouldn’t be as predictable as I found it to be. A good enough read, but quite disappointing. I hope the author will put more of her soul and beliefs in other stories she may write.