She wore Red Trainers – Realistic “Halal Love Story” but ultimately alienating

She Wore Red Trainers.pngPublication date : June 10th, 2014goodreads

Publisher : Kube Pubishing Ltd

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count : 256

Synopsis : When Ali first meets Amirah, he notices everything about her—her hijab, her long eyelashes and her red trainers—in the time it takes to have one look, before lowering his gaze. And, although Ali is still coming to terms with the loss of his mother and exploring his identity as a Muslim, and although Amirah has sworn never to get married, they can’t stop thinking about each other. Can Ali and Amirah ever have a halal “happily ever after”?

Rating : 3 stars

She wore red trainers(No Spoilers)

This book is probably the oldest book by a Muslim author on my TBR, from the time when I was still very hesitant to pick books with Muslim MCs up… for reasons. So it got burried under a gigantic pile of books and I only remembered about it while trying to figure out my TBR for Ramadan Readathon. And to be honest, it kind of checked a box for one of the reasons I used to stay away from these books quite some time ago, which I’ll be explaining in detail somewhere in this review. That being said, it was still a true to life, enjoyable story.

The writing is simple enough to follow and easy to read which helped a lot with the pacing on the book, one thing that bugged me about it is how much the words “teeth kissing” (??) and “bro” were used, there was too much of them. She Wore Red Trainers is written in dual POV alternating between Ali and Amirah which was good, because even though the two of them don’t interact much, we still got to see what each of them thought of the other, of the few times they met, etc…

There’s one thing I want to address before moving on with the review, it’s about the fact that a lot of people (non-muslim and western in most of the cases) thought the romance unrealistic because the two of them barely talked so “how can they develop feelings for each other?”. The fact that this is different from western cultures and situations doesn’t make it unrealistic, in fact, this is the reality for a lot of Muslims who get married only after a few meeting because that’s just how things are done and most of these marriages work just fine. So please be careful not to label real people’s lives “unrealistic” just because they are different from what you’re used to experiencing.

Moving on. Even though at first glance the story appears to be a romance through and through, it’s so much more than that. It’s also about family and dealing with different traumas and different kinds of grief. I loved the siblinghood from both the MCs sides, they were different and yet similar in a way that they both cared so very deeply for their siblings. I also loved the sense of community, how everyone got together to do something for the youth and to make their summer better.

As for the romance, I really liked how the author managed to keep it interesting even with Amirah and Ali interacting very little with the stolen glances, the misunderstandings and the awkward but adorable little conversations. The ending was so very cute, I loved how the two of them ended up making things work no matter what was thrown their way.

I loved Amirah‘s personality and how ambitious, strong and witty she was, but under all of that she had a lot of deeply rooted secrets and insecurities and I loved seeing her deal with that and ultaimately break free from itAli is such a responsible, funny guy, I loved how he tried to be his family’s rock after his mom’s death even though he struggled a lot on his own. He went through great development, finding himself, what he wants to do and taking a different direction with his life.

All of this being said, there was something deeply wrong with the narration, and this is my opinion and mine only. The way the characters live in this book is very strict and conservative and there’s nothing wrong with that, I actually quite liked getting a perspective that’s different from mine but what really bothered me is that the book seemed to not know there are Muslims who live their Islam in other ways, so it ultimately alienated me because I felt like it was judging my way of practicing my faith to uplift the way the characters practice it. There was use of sentences like “every self-respecting girl would do X”, implied judging of people who don’t wear the hijab, do or don’t do certain things and that made my reading experience uneasy, because as good as the story itself it failed in keeping an open mind to the other types of Muslims who are on a different level of religiosity. 

That’s it until next time.

Did you read She Wore Red Trainers ? If so, what did you think?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.


8 thoughts on “She wore Red Trainers – Realistic “Halal Love Story” but ultimately alienating

  1. to be honest, i’ve heard very little about this book, and it isn’t in my immediate TBR, but i grew interested in it after reading your review. what saddened me is that, from your thoughts on the book, it felt like the novel was, in a way, confirming stereotypes that aren’t actually common among the Muslim community (i do not deny there are people like that). though i understand the author’s point of view, and appreciate this type of romance, i’m afraid non-muslim readers will apply this lifestyle to every muslim. i wish the author put a note that this is just a PART of the Muslim community, or something like that.
    wonderful review, fadwa!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeaah I actually don’t mind the fact that she didn’t say we’re not all like that because that would mean that EVERY perspective will have to get a note like that. But it’s just wrong, you know? Like, why would you go out of your way to add judgmental commentary that adds nothing to the story?
      Thanks Maha ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can see why you would feel judged by the sentences ‘every self respecting girl would do x,’ it’s like you say there are numerous ways to practice any religion and I too would feel judged.
    It sounds like an interesting read I like how they have stolen glances and they build up a romance in the little time they have together. With this ones who read it definitely need to have that understanding of other cultures that sometimes you only see each other once before a wedding perhaps.
    Great review Fadwa! Thank you for introducing me to more diverse reads to check out 🙂


  3. Pingback: To Sum-up: June 2017 | Word Wonders

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