This was another Netgalley review, however this book is out now. As always, I was gifted a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
For a young woman who just wants to get her first kiss out of the way, a rugby player seems like the perfect mismatch. But a kiss is never just a kiss. . ..
Now that Soraya Nazari has graduated from university, she thinks it’s time she get some of the life experience that she feels she’s still lacking, partly due to her upbringing–and Magnus Evans seems like the perfect way to get it.
Whereas she’s the somewhat timid, artistic daughter of Iranian immigrants, Magnus is the quintessential British lad. Because they have so little in common, Soraya knows there’s no way she could ever fall for him, so what’s the harm in having a little fun as she navigates her postgrad life? Besides, the more she discovers about her mother’s past and the strain between her parents, the less appealing marriage becomes.
Before long, Soraya begins to realize that there’s much more to Magnus than meets the eye. But could she really have a relationship with him? Is she more like her mother than she ever would have thought?
When I read the Blurb I was expecting your typical romantic comedy but what you get it so much more. It is not only funny and at times very moving it is also gives you an insight into Muslim traditions and how different families follow the religion in a variety of ways.
I love a good dual narrative and this time we got one in the form of Soraya and her mother. This gives the story so much more depth as well as an insight into life in Iran back in the 70s and how some families stuck with tradition whilst others became more westernised in their approach to life and religion.
I found main character Soraya is a really intriguing person. Her determination to experience life, even if it means going against her families’ wishes makes her not only stand out but also highlights her independence and strength to be her own person in a world which doesn’t agree you should necessarily do this.
Her father is a very strict Muslim in some cases, especially when it comes to his daughters but we see the double standards in his expectations when it comes to his son who can date girls with no consequences.
I must admit before reading this I didn’t know too much about the traditions of the Islamic religions, so this book was a real eye opener for me. From the nosy family overseas to the back story of how her parents met and were married it was really fascinating and has made me to want to read more and find out more about religion.
As Soraya continues through her life after uni we see her desperate to experience all of life’s little pleasures, including her first kiss. However, she is often torn between what she wants to do and what she knows her parents would want her to do and what is right according to her culture and religion. We see her thought process and how she weighs up what she should do against what she wants to do which makes the story so much more interesting. Her whole character arc is fascinating, we start by seeing this girl, fresh out of uni and desperate to live more that her studies are over. However, as the story progresses, we see her trying to take a more practical approach to these experiences. She knows she will never be allowed to marry anyone but a Muslim man, so she tries to leave love and emotion out of all her choices, which as we know isn’t always possible.
I don’t want to give any big spoilers away but one thing this book does also explore as well as religion and their traditions are some dark subjects including addiction and domestic abuse. These topics make the book even more emotional and may well increase the empathy you feel for Soraya.
The chapters from the mother’s point of view are just as intriguing. Her tale of moving to the UK is an emotional event and shows the reader the difficulties many people experience getting used to not only new cultures and ways of life but also sticking to their own values and beliefs in the western world. A world where, especially in the 70s and 80s they weren’t as accepting of other cultures as much as they are today.
Overall, this story is fantastic read. I was looking for a light read after finishing a dark crime read but what I got instead was so much better. This is the perfect mixture of comedy, romance, religion, and family that I never realised I wanted until I read it.
On the surface this novel is a romantic comedy with your typical boy meets girl scenario but delve deeper and you will find so many more layers which makes this story a beautiful coming of age story. It is a moving tale of religion, traditions, family values combined with a young person’s struggles in the modern age to keep to the expectations and rules set by their parents and religion, when all they want to do is experience life and have fun.
⭐⭐⭐⭐ – A beautiful, moving coming-of-age story set in the modern age portraying an Iranian’s struggle between her own wants and desires and her family’s values and expectations.