It is a book with a fabulous voice and a lot of genuine humor--I skipped through some pages at random to refresh my memory and got, "So is it like nuns? Are you married to Jesus now?"
If it hadn't been written with as much authority and assurance, I might have thought some of the situations were over the top -- obviously my high school (pre-9/11) and a snooty Australian prep school (post-9/11) don't have much in common, and I'm sure that I wasn't aware of everything that went on, but I felt like at my high school it was accepted as just normal that we had a handful of students who wore head scarves. But Abdel-Fattah made it totally convincing and believable.
Now, there were moments when it was just a little preachy (I thought Simone's issues were handled much less gracefully than Amal's) and moments when it lacked narrative drive and moments when it was trying too hard to be cool. But (without dismissing the seriousness of the issues involved) it's nice to read a book that takes on serious issues while being both reverent and irreverent, and very funny.
School from seventh grade to tenth grade was Hidaya - The Guidance - Islamic College. Where they indoctrinate students and teach them how to form Muslim ghettos, where they train with Al-Qaeda for school camp and sing national anthems from the Middle East. NOT!