Publisher : Deeya Publishing Inc.
Genre : Young Adult | Mystery
Page Count: 236
Synopsis : LIKE NANCY DREW, BUT NOT…
Craving a taste of teenage life, Asiya Haque defies her parents to go for a walk (really, it was just a walk!) in the woods with Michael, her kind-of-friend/crush/the guy with the sweetest smile she’s ever seen. Her tiny transgression goes completely off track when they stumble on a dead body. Michael covers for Asiya, then goes missing himself.
Despite what the police say, Asiya is almost sure Michael is innocent. But how will she, the sheltered girl with the strictest parents ever, prove anything? With Michael gone, a rabid police officer in desperate need of some sensitivity training, and the murderer out there, how much will Asiya risk to do what she believes is right?
*I received an Arc of this book from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*
Before I dive into the review, I need to get this out of the way. For me, this book took “seeing yourself in a book” to a whole other level, a very literal one, because the girl on the cover looks almost exactly like me. It’s creepy you guys haha, she’s even dressed like I used to when I was in high school. Joke aside, this was such an awesome book, with very personal, relatable moments, some of which I never experienced and never thought I could experience one day. The dedication says it all: “For all the girls who were never told someone like them could, not even in books”. And I’m happy that little Muslim girls now have this book.
Moving on. Ishara‘s writing is witty, funny and pulled me in immediately. She was able to portray the authentic voice of a Muslim girl who’s trying to find the perfect balance between living under her parents’ very conservative roof and doing things that make her happy, having a crush, helping him find his biological parents AND helping free and innocent man. It’s safe to say that the girl had a busy schedule. She took a trope that was overused and all of us Muslim girls are tired off and turned it around to have Asiya save the non-Muslim boy and not the other way around. My insides were squealing of joy.
I absolutely ADORED the mystery in this book, I wasn’t able to determine who the killer really was and even when they were revealed, I was like “scuse you, what?” but it was brilliant and made perfect sense. And that’s how I love my mysteries, to be unpredictable but most of all to make me think that I had it all figured out when I didn’t. I think that how everything was linked and the different characters connected was really clever.
Asiya is honestly everything I want to see in our representation in books. She’s kickass, very resourceful and smart. The girl is also hilarious. You know how when you don’t talk about something, it’s the thing that you always think about? That’s Asiya with sex, it is such a taboo in her community (as it is in a lot of Muslim communities) her obsession with it had me in tears, I couldn’t stop laughing. One thing I also appreciated about her is how she didn’t have that need to rebel against her parents because of how protective -and let’s face it- suffocating they were. She still loved and respected them, wanting to make them happy even if she actually went behind their backs to help people, which she knew they’d disapprove of because 1/ They don’t like Michael 2/She puts herself in danger. But she’s convinced that’s what God wants her to do. So she does. And she ALWAYS gets discovered.
Also, can we talk about her monologues to God, I CAN TOTALLY RELATE. All the bargaining, and pleading, and thanking. I don’t know if everyone does that but I definitely do. It was really funny because she’s be absolutely screwed, doing the dumbest things, knowing the outcome would be disastrous and she’ll hope against all hope that she’ll make it out. Spoiler: She doesn’t.
“So God, I could really use some help. You see, I’m not too great with this signs business. Like I’ve got this itchy, irritating feeling in my chest, but I’m not sure if You’re telling me something or it’s my dinner coming back up because my stomach is currently higher than my head. Ma’s fish curry pushing its way past my stomach sphincter and back up my esophagus would do that too, You know? So could You please, please help me out by making it really, really clear what the right thing to do is in this case?”
“Also, thank you God. You might not like me much, but I can still admit that this could have turned out much, much worse.”
Her parents are some heavy duty Muslim parents. They need to sit down, drink some water or something. Though I get where they come from and that they love her and mean well. Her mom is the one who needs to chill the most, she thinks that just the fact of being surrounded by boys will make Asiya take her clothes of and have sex with any if not all of them, that was equally frustrating and hilarious but she is also a super-mamabear who’d do anything for her daughter and the badass things she did kind of made up for most of her over the top behaviors.
Her dad on the other hand is the voice of wisdom who lets his wife take the lead until he thinks that she went too far with her restrictions. I love how he is more moderate in his views, very gentle with Asiya but doesn’t mind putting his foot down and being strict when she does things that deserve it. One relationship that was particularly heartwarming is the one she had with her little brother, Adil was such a sweet boy and he admired her more than anyone which lifted her spirits when she needed it the most.
I can’t really say that I related with Asiya’s struggles because my family dynamic is very different from hers but community wise, I did. Oh how I did! Like the fact that girls have less freedom than boys (even the younger ones), how some aunties like to be in everyone’s business or how some Imams need to have their brains carved out and replaced because of their very mysogonistic views, luckily, the one in our masjid is wonderful and very inspirational so I don’t have to deal with that frequently.
All in all, this was a very fun, quick and in some ways relatable read. I can’t wait for the second installment in the series to see what adventure Asiya goes on next but one thing that I’m very interested in seeing is where Michael’s arc goes from where the book left him. Very intrigued, indeed.
That’s it until next time.
Did you read God Smites and Other Muslim Girl Problems? If so, what did you think?
If you are a Muslim, how did Asiya’s circumstances relate to your own experiences?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.