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 for herself.
Head Over Heart is published by Chicken House in the UK on July 10th. It's a great coming-of-age story that I really enjoyed, and I think it will appeal to a lot of readers. Look out for it and I hope you enjoy this conversation with main character Zeyneb!
Interview with Zeyneb Özturk from Head over Heart
Interviewer: So, where were you born?
Zeyneb: I was born here, in this country, but I’m not British British. My parents are Turkish though my mum, I call her Anne, was born here too. Her parents, my grandparents, came to this country when they were just newlyweds. My dad, Baba, came here in his early twenties. Anne met him when she was on holiday in Turkey and they got engaged over there. He moved here just before they got married.
Interviewer: What language do you speak at home?
Zeyneb: It’s kind of complicated. My sister, Elif, and I, we speak Turkish to Baba and English to Anne. We always speak Turkish when our relatives are around (we have this absolutely huge family with a whole bunch of aunts and uncles and cousins.) But when Elif and I are alone together, we speak English to each other. It depends who you’re speaking to, really.
Interviewer: Isn’t that confusing?
Zeyneb: I don’t know. Not really. It’s kind of the way it’s always been, even when I was a little kid. I think it would start to be confusing if I suddenly had to speak only one language to each and every person in my family. That would be weird.
Interviewer: What’s the biggest difference between you and your best friend, Kelly?
Zeyneb: That’s easy, really. With us Muslim kids, when we’re little we can get away with quite a lot of stuff. I mean, our parents are really strict about some things like respecting your elders and stuff like that but, in general, they believe kids should just be allowed to enjoy their childhood. But then later, when we get older, our parents become stricter and we’re allowed to do fewer things. We’re expected to learn responsibility when we’re older. But with Kelly it’s almost the opposite. I mean, I’m not saying her mum didn’t want her to enjoy her childhood or anything like that. But it’s like she was expected to be quite responsible even when she was little and now that she’s older, she’s allowed to do more stuff than I’d ever be allowed to do. Kind of like now she has to apply the responsibility she learnt when she was a little kid and not do stupid things. But I think that in the end we’ll more or less reach the same point though. By the time we’re women we’ll both have to be equally responsible. She might have learnt it when she was a little kid and I’m learning some of it now, but we’ll both get to the same place in the end.