Sara Farizan, August 2013. Two Iranian teenage girls are in love, and no one can know; homosexuality is a capital offense. Nasrin and Sahar live double lives, being besties in public but secretly making out when they’re supposed to be studying. Sahar starts to freak out, though, when Nasrin’s parents announce they’ve chosen a husband for her. Nasrin seems okay with keeping up the facade and still having secret rendezvous with Sahar, but Sahar wants a more permanent solution – and then she finds one. Despite its hard line against gays, the state believes that sex change surgery is a necessary medical benefit in cases where someone’s been born into the wrong body. If Sahar can have the surgery in time, maybe she can stop the wedding and marry Nasrin herself. But as she begins to infiltrate Tehran’s small trans community, she realizes she doesn’t actually have much in common with the FTMs she meets. Nor does she have enough time to complete the psychological portions of transition, begin hormone therapy, and have the operations. And will Nasrin really call off the wedding, anyway?
I hadn’t come across this particular plot in a book before, and it was pretty interesting. It makes sense that a desperate girl in love would consider anything to be with her girlfriend, even radical surgery, though it also makes sense that this doesn’t happen in the end. I liked the minor characters, like Sahar’s flamboyant cousin and Nasrin’s fiancé, though it was too convenient that he ended up being the doctor Sahar consulted about sex reassignment. Overall, an interesting read that will keep the attention of American readers who can’t imagine the difficulties of being gay in Iran.