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by Aisha Muharrar
Free Spirit Publishing, 2003
Review by Judith Carlson on Apr 16th 2004
Although I understood and
appreciated what author Aisha Muharrar was trying to accomplish in her book More
Than a Label, I came away disappointed. It felt too much like I was reading
a required text for a middle school class rather than the enjoyable call to
action I think it was intended to be.
More often than not I felt like I
was being hit over the head with the same information rather than being
stimulated into deeper thought. She talked about learning in debate class that
there are two sides to everything and then almost entirely focuses on all of
the negative aspects of labels. I wish she would have spent more time on things
we can control, and less on trying to change other people. History is littered
with examples of people beating their collective heads against the wall trying
to change other people without success. The Middle East is an obvious example
of this futility.
That is why I enjoyed the section
in the book on negative self-talk as she really nailed it. We may not be able
to control how we are viewed by outsiders and cliques or have much power to
change how they see us, but we have complete control over how we view
ourselves. Developing this skill is invaluable and well worth the time spent. I
suffer from anxiety and have learned to reduce the amount of anxiety I
experience by changing the way I think about things. I have learned that how I
process what people say to me is what matters not what they say or think about
me and it is very liberating.
Aisha uses the sticks and
stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me saying in the book and
completely missed the point, when she follows with the assertion "But the
truth is some words do hurt." The point of that saying is that only
the power you attach to the words or the way you think about them
can hurt you if you allow them to. By saying some words do hurt you are
giving all the power to others and that could be used as a metaphor for what I
disliked about her approach in this book.... Too much focus outside of yourself
and not enough focused inside.
I always wanted to be more
popular with the "in crowd" at my schools, but finally realized I was
wasting my time and energy chasing the end of a rainbow. Although Aisha has a
noble agenda, I think she would have helped more of her peers by focusing on
exercises to help them feel better about themselves, while still advocating the
same things she focused on without beating the reader over the head like a
Personally I wish she would
have focused on cliques more than labels. I do think a lot of the exercises in
the book are useful and would work well in middle school classes and that Aisha’s
heart is in the right place.
© 2004 Judith Carlson
Judith Carlson writes about
junior in high school. I'm on the soccer team at my school and take several
honors courses. I have lived with my foster family since I turned nine. I plan
on attending a good college after I graduate and would love to continue playing
soccer in college (but I need to improve some more first). I have battled
anxiety since I was very young and did not even realize it for a couple of
years but I think I have it under control now. Everyone thinks I'm shy but I
think I'm just naturally quiet.