Does My Head Look Big in This?

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Does My Head Look Big In This?
Does My Head Look Big In This.jpg
Author Randa Abdel-Fattah
Country Australia
Language English
Genre Young Adult Fiction
Publisher Pac Macmillan (Australia)
Publication date
August 1st, 2005
Media type Paperback
Pages 348
ISBN 0-439-91947-9
OCLC 74648918
LC Class PZ7.A15892 Doe 2007

Does My Head Look Big In This? is author Randa Abdel-Fattah's first novel. It was released in Australia, by Pan MacMillan Australia, on August 1, 2005. It won the Australian Book Industry Award and Australian Book of The Year Award for older children.[1]

The story revolves around (and is told from the view point of) a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who decides to wear the hijab, a religious veil, full-time. Her decision leads to different reactions from her friends, family, and peers.

This novel was also adapted as a full-length play and is available from the Dramatic Publishing Company.[2]



  • Amal Mohammed Nasrullah Abdel-Hakim is the main protagonist of the story. She is a sixteen-year-old Australian Palestinian-Muslim girl with green-blue eyes and light brown hair. When she was in preschool, teachers labeled her as slow because she was the last child to learn how to spell her own name. Amal spent her elementary years in a Catholic school and then went to Hidaya - The Guidance - Islamic College for grades seven to ten. She had to transfer to McCleans Preparatory School for eleventh grade since Hidaya only went up to the tenth grade. Her father and mother call her "Ya Amal" (Ya means Oh in Arabic) when they are in an affectionate mood. Amal is deeply religious and very respectful of her family and elders. While power walking on the treadmill at her house, and watching a Friends rerun, Amal is inspired by Rachel Green to wear the hijab as an act of responsibility and courage. Amal has strong feelings for Adam Keane, her crush, but puts her religion before her heart when he tries to kiss her at his birthday party.
  • Leila Okulgen is one of Amal's best friends from Hidaya. She is seventeen years old (at the end of the book) and is a Turkish Muslim girl with dark brown hair, and deep brown eyes. Her mother, Gulchin, is over-strict, feels disappointed by Leila, and thinks that Leila's dreams of becoming a lawyer are impossible and shameful, since criminal justice work is "unfitting for a girl". Gulchin keeps trying to get her daughter to marry, but Leila refuses each time. Eventually, she gets upset and runs away for two months to a women's shelter in the city. After she returns, Gulchin stops trying to set her up. Leila has a brother named Hakan. She wears the hijab as a "full-timer", just like Amal.
  • Yasmeen Khan is Amal's other best friend from Hidaya. She is sixteen years old and is an Australian Muslim of Pakistani and British descent with curly brown hair and brown eyes. Yasmeen has white skin with a ton of freckles. Her mother, Cassandra, is a Brit who converted to Islam, and her father, Tariq, is a Pakistani. When in public, Yasmeen likes to pretend her name is Jasmine because she "thinks it's more exotic". Yasmeen doesn't wear the hijab full-time, and attends a public high school with Leila. She has a younger brother, Omar, who is described as having chocolate-colored skin.
  • Mrs. Vaselli is Amal's Greek neighbor. Originally portrayed as a grumpy old lady who Amal dislikes, she and Amal eventually connect over their stories about family and life as an immigrant.
  • Simone is one of Amal's best friends at McCleans. She is sixteen years old and is a natural blonde. Her mother is desperate for her to lose weight, have a boyfriend and be "normal". Since she is slightly overweight, Simone tries many fad diets, and is constantly bullied by Tia about her weight. Simone gets discouraged easily, and has a low self-esteem. However, she eventually forms a romantic relationship with Josh.
  • Eileen Tanaka is Amal's other best friend at McCleans. She is a sixteen-year-old Japanese girl. Eileen previously studied Japanese dance, and is interested in a creative arts degree, much to her parents' dismay. Unlike Simone and Amal, Eileen never comes close to having a romantic relationship.
  • Adam Keane is Amal's crush, chemistry partner, and one of her close friends. His mother ran away when he was seven; Adam states that she phones him on annual holidays and sends him polo shirts, but he will never forgive her. His father has a partner, Charlene, but Adam is somewhat distant from them. He is shown to be a jock, but also studious and interested in a career in medicine. Amal and Adam enjoy their comradeship, and occasionally flirt. Adam attempts to kiss Amal at his birthday party, but she rejects his advances, choosing to stand by her religion. This incident ends their flirtation, but after Leila runs away, they begin to rebuild their friendship. Although she knows it won't be the same as before, Amal is still grateful that she and Adam are friends again.
  • Josh Goldberg is another one of Amal's friends at McCleans and Simone's love interest. He is Jewish and supports Amal when she starts wearing a hijab. He first shows interest in Simone when she is doing an impersonation of a teacher, and after a long period of flirting, he asks her out and they begin their romantic relationship. Josh, despite being very popular, is firm friends with Amal, and they have a fun time together. Adam and Josh are very close, and are implied to be best friends.
  • Tia Tamos is an antagonist and the school bully. Although she is "gorgeous", with green eyes and jet-black hair, she is very haughty and hypocritical, often making nasty remarks about other students to their faces. Tia is a prejudiced racist who will pounce on anyone misfitting, ugly, or non-white: she constantly makes rude comments about Simone's weight, Eileen's heritage, and Amal's religion. She has a crush on Josh, much to his disgust.
  • Claire Foster and Rita Mason are Tia's followers, who abide by everything she says and does.
  • Uncle Joe is Amal's maternal uncle and was born "Ismail". He does not follow his religion, and tries his best to become fully "Aussie".
  • Aunt Mandy is Joe's wife and Amal's aunt. Like her husband, she does not follow her religion.
  • Samantha is Amal's cousin. She is in her second year of college and is the daughter of Joe and Mandy. She is one of the few extended family members Amal trusts and enjoys talking to.
  • George is Amal's younger cousin. He is the son of Joe and Mandy, and is considered a pest by both Amal and Samantha.
  • Hakan is Leila's older brother, who prefers to be known as Sam. Although he is violent-tempered, Gulchin loves him and allows him to have his own way. He dislikes Leila and is verbally abusive towards her.


  1. ^ Chandab, Taghred (2006-11-05). "Lifting the veil on the Islam experience". The Sun-Herald. 
  2. ^ "Hood River Valley HS unveils new Muslim-themed play, 'Does My Head Look Big in This'". Retrieved 2017-01-24.