Hate is such a strong word by Sarah Ayoub

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Harper Collins, 2013. ISBN: 9780732296841.
(Age: Secondary) Sarah Ayoub has created an engaging plot line that speaks to relevant issues in the lives of Australian Teenagers. This was a quick read, which I didn't want to put down.
Written in the first person, seventeen year old Sophie takes us through her final year of high school as a Lebanese-Australian, living in a predominantly Lebanese district of Sydney. Like many teenagers, Sophie struggles with fitting in at school, dealing with an over-protective father at home, reconciling her two cultures and trying to find her place in the world.
Ayoub covers a lot of ground in this debut novel. Racial Tension, bullying, family, relationships and identity are just a few of the themes that she explores, and she does so in a manner that quickly draws the reader to empathise with the well-constructed female protagonist.
The novel presents a vivid picture of what it is to live as the child of a migrant family within a cultural minority in Australia. While I cannot personally vouch for the accuracy of this depiction, I believe it is a novel that will open the eyes of the average Australian teenager to the broad diversity that resides within our country.
While the language is not challenging, and this novel should be a fairly easy read for most high school students, the themes are particularly relevant to more senior students who are making the transition into the adult world.
This is a coming of age novel, with a good dose of social commentary and a hint of chick-lit.
Hate is Such a Strong Word could be studied in conjunction with other text such as My Big Fat Greek Wedding, or Looking for Alabrandi, though I would recommend it more as a wider reading novel than a class shared text.
Sarah Rose