We’ve a treat for our older readers today. GHB welcomes Colette Victor, a South African born writer who immigrated to Belgium in 2001. For over ten years, Colette has worked as a community worker in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. She’s also been writing fiction for many years and her first YA novel, ‘ Head Over Heart’, (Chicken House), was published on 3 July 2014. Over to you, Colette.
Through someone else’s eyes
What’s it about? Zeyneb is like any other thirteen-year-old British girl, juggling the demands of her social life, school work and family. But as a Muslim girl attracted to a non-Muslim boy she has more difficult choices – and one very big decision. Now a woman in the eyes of her religion, she must decide if she will wear a headscarf. Zeyneb wants to make the right choice, not just for her family or friends, but also for herself.
Why did I write it? There are so many misunderstandings about the hijab or headscarf, people often see it as a symbol of female oppression. Through my work as a community worker I’ve met young girls, married women, widows, single mums and emancipated university students who wear headscarves because that’s who they are and not because there’s a man standing in the wings demanding it. On the flip side, I also know women who would seem ‘modern’ in their views and clothing, but actually live in servitude. Ultimately it’s about looking further than our cultural accessories and seeing the person underneath.
My daughter had a Muslim best friend for all her nursery and primary school years. The two girls were always together, doing homework, dressing up, sleeping over at each other’s houses. As my daughter’s friend got older and her body started changing, she expressed concern that soon she’d have to make a choice about wearing a headscarf or not. It started me thinking about all the cultural pressures at play in making such a decision and this is what I explored through Zeyneb’s eyes in Head over heart.
Thanks for visiting GHB and telling us the inspiration behind Head Over Heart, Colette. I’m sure many of our readers will have important decisions to make and be able to empathise with Zeyneb.