... skillfully nuanced ... Mustafah authentically portrays Afaf's enjoyment of her friendships, music and the limited independence her bike affords her, alongside her growing awareness of her mother's displeasure with American life ... With exquisite pacing, Mustafah builds suspense and also Afaf's quiet courage until--in the book's final chapters--Afaf must do her hardest work yet. She must confront the shooter in order to save her students and herself.
While Mustafah writes impressively and convincingly of her Palestinian American immigrant community, she falters when revealing the shooter’s narrative, which veers too close to predictability. Her achievements nevertheless outweigh minor missteps, making her an adept author well worth reading.
... stirring ... traces the delicate and complex narratives framing Palestinian-American identities. Intertwining instances of racism and radicalization against resilience and strength, Mustafah's writing is impassioned. Her representation of the violence and hatred is brutal, certainly uncomfortable yet profoundly necessary. As Mustafah fully considers the ramifications faced by the Palestinian-American community, The Beauty of Your Face inserts an essential voice into contemporary narratives ... The strongest writing depicts Afaf's upbringing, specifically her struggles with assimilation ... an authentic portrait of girlhood ... On the one hand, the school shooting narrative is unnecessary since Afaf's coming-of-age story is so compelling. The fluctuating narrative is distracting, while Mustafah doesn't devote enough attention to fully developing the shooter character. Yet, on the other hand, Mustafah draws convincing parallels between the shooter's and Afaf's alienation and powerlessness. More so, the school shooting demonstrates how racist fervor manifests into violence targeting Palestinian-Americans. Mustafah demarcates the ongoing violence and discrimination as constantly shifting to maintain a tactical culture of fear ... Mustafah dismantles stereotypes about Muslim women. Her subversion is subtle, and she avoids righteous indignation ... Mustafah's voice thoughtfully and refreshingly reshapes Muslim identity ... Regardless of its missteps, The Beauty of Your Face positions Mustafah as a celebrated voice in the Palestinian-American literary movement. She pens an emotional and rich journey, laden with awareness and intrigue. The Beauty of Your Face testifies to shared humanity, one derived from schisms and connections.
... frequently moving, especially in her depictions of Afaf’s inner state. The sections of the book that describe Afaf’s early life are especially vivid ... unlike Afaf and her father, the shooter feels like a stock character, and his chapters, though suspenseful, become unwelcome interruptions to the novel’s main action: the slow unraveling of a single family. That’s where this book’s heart seems to be ... At times, the novel feels almost like two separate stories jammed together.