The Beauty of Her Face is Sahar Mustafa’s debut novel, which tells the story of a Palestinian American woman and her experiences as a Muslim throughout most of her life. It isn’t just another powerful tale of Muslim communities and the trials they face in the West, but it is about how a woman deals with grief, misery, and pain due to a school shooting that scarred her childhood and life thereon.
The protagonist, Afaf Rahman, is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants. They live in the United States, where her father is the Principal of Nurrideen School for Girls, a school for Muslim students right in the suburbs of Chicago. On an unfateful morning, a shooter attacks the school, and a series of terrifying events follow.
We are led into these horrible memories through the eyes of Afaf, how she dealt with her past, while often succumbing to the evocative memories of her childhood. We see bits of how her mother wishes to return to Palestine, her homeland, how her sister’s sudden disappearance causes immense grief to her family, and how she grows into a better and stronger woman by placing her faith in the integrity of humanity and by delving into the teachings of her faith, of Islam.
This story has been told with the right amount of rawness and deals with the complexity of human lives and emotions. We see how the past molds Afaf and her family, how her painful memories often threaten to disembark her from the path of righteousness and how things unfold in her life for her to learn, grow and embody a better, kinder and more powerful version of herself.
The book officially released on 7 April 2020.