The 100 Best YA Books of All Time
August 11, 2021 7:34 AM EDT

The limitations of a heady first love are put to the test in Sara Farizan’s achingly beautiful novel, If You Could Be Mine. Sahar, a 17-year-old young woman living in Tehran, has been in love with her best friend Nasrin since they were children. Theirs is a sweet affection that has blossomed into stolen kisses and romantic hopes, despite the dire consequences for a queer couple in Iran. Sahar’s dream of a future with Nasrin, however, is threatened when Nasrin’s family announces her engagement to a man. The protagonist soon discovers a solution that would allow her to love Nasrin openly: transitioning to male. It’s a practice that’s legal and accessible in Iran, but Sahar desires to be loved in the body she is in. In the 2013 novel, Farizan addresses a diverse range of experiences of being queer and Iranian with nuance and immense care, constructing a tender story about how love for another can only truly be given and received once you achieve love for yourself. The novel has won numerous awards specific to books that center queer characters, including the Lambda Literary Award for Children’s and YA Literature. —Cady Lang

Buy Now: If You Could Be Mine on Bookshop | Amazon

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