Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik.

A post of a slightly more cheery nature today, this is a book review of one of the funniest books I have read all year!

“Brilliant idea! Excellent! Muslim dating? Well, I had no idea you were allowed to date.’ Then he leaned towards me and looked at me sympathetically. ‘Are your parents quite disappointed?’

Unlucky in love once again after her possible-marriage-partner-to-be proves a little too close to his parents, Sofia Khan is ready to renounce men for good. Or at least she was, until her boss persuades her to write a tell-all expose about the Muslim dating scene.

As her woes become her work, Sofia must lean on the support of her brilliant friends, baffled colleagues and baffling parents as she goes in search of stories for her book. In amongst the marriage-crazy relatives, racist tube passengers and decidedly odd online daters, could there be a a lingering possibility that she might just be falling in love . . . ?

Sofia Khan is not Obliged is the hilarious and authentic debut novel by Ayisha Malik.” (Goodreads.)

I started this on Thursday evening before bed and ended up reading through the night until I finished it at about 6am. While I spent the next day exhausted it was well worth it because this book was so bingeworthy! This is a laugh out loud, refreshing romantic comedy with a twist.

This book read very similarly to Bridget Jones as it is written in a diary format. I don’t normally go for books with this format however it lends itself well to this story, as it is Sofia capturing the moments in between her romantic exploits and her struggle with writing and researching for her imminent book deadline. I enjoyed that there could be several entries from different times during the day, capturing how much things changed in a day or the unexpected twists of the day.

Sofia Khan is both an entertaining and refreshing read, as it tells the story of a strong, independent woman while discussing and challenging stereotypes of Islamic culture, and more specifically of women’s place within that culture. Sofia Khan is a woman completely comfortable in her faith and who is unashamed of said part of her life, and while she concedes that her life is different as a Muslim woman to what is widely accepted and understood in British culture, this does not dampen her spirits or confidence. Sofia is an insightful, intelligent and hilarious woman, and she (alongside her vibrant cast of friends in the book) shows that the common stereotype whereby Muslim women are inevitably oppressed, unheard and forced into marriage is untrue. While throughout the book there are lots of hints from those around her, seemingly pressuring her to find a husband or to get married, Sofia and her friends are never seen to be forced into anything they don’t want to do, and all end up following different routes to romance on their own accord.

I think that this book was brilliant for so many reasons, and as I have said before I really appreciate reading books where the protagonist lives a different life to me; whether this be culturally, their gender, sexuality etc. I think reading books with stories too alike your own is quite counterproductive and eliminates one of the most amazing things about reading, which is to learn and open your mind and outlook through other people’s stories. I didn’t have a religious upbringing, nor do I know much about the Islamic faith and what it is like to be a women in an Islamic culture. It was fantastic to read a book from this perspective, especially in an age where most of what I hear about the Islamic faith is negative or slandering. Malik shows how while there are some irritating traditions or cultural norms or stereotypes etc. that Sofia Khan has to deal with that are associated with being Muslim, she is still unreservedly and unashamedly proud of her faith. Plus, MASSIVE brownie points for the love interest…if you’ve read it you will know whom I mean!

Ayisha Malik did an interview with one of my favourite YouTubers, Leena Normington about what it is like to be a Muslim woman, which is definitely worth watching in conjunction with reading this book if, like me, you enjoy two incredibly infectious personalities discussing the taboos and often unasked questions about what it is like to be a Muslim women. If you would like to watch that video, click here!

Without looking too much into what this book may represent or the messages it may be trying to circulate, in short it is just a great read! If you like a rom com, if you loved Bridget Jones, if you love plot twists and a couple you can root for then this book is for you. It will keep you hooked until the end, as there are various romantic potentials and so many heart warming and funny moments throughout. This was such a change from what I normally read on the day to day but I adored it. Plus, there is apparently going to be a sequel…so get on it now!

Pip pip!

 

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