The Clasp by Sloane Crosley These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Publisher: Twenty7
Source: Netgalley
Rating: 4/5
Synopsis from Goodreads:
"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." 
I absolutely LOVED this book! It was positively bursting with love and laughter. Sofia's voice is definitely up there with Bex from the Shopaholic series and Georgia Nicholson (albeit quite a bit older than the latter). I don't often like to read books where the main character and I share the same name (yes - I'm a bit strange like that but it takes all sorts) but I was intrigued by the blurb and the cover. Plus, it's Sofia with an 'f', so that probably helped. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.

First of all, this is a great book if you'd like to gain insight into what it means to be a young, British Muslim. I especially found the scenes with Sofia's sister - Maria - dealing with living with her in-laws touching. This book is also great if you want to know about the second generation immigrant experience in general. I'm third generation (my grandparents moved to the UK from the Caribbean as I've spoken about before) and could relate to some of the things Sofia experienced. For example, like a few of us (yes - just a few - you've all seen the diversity stats) working in creative industries, Sofia is a bit of a novelty in her office. Her colleagues don't mean to treat her differently but every now and then, what could be seen as well meaning questioning, only ends up highlighting their differences and turns into a bit of exotification.

Secondly, you'll enjoy this book if you like a good old fashioned marriage plot. Sofia is very much an Elizabeth Bennett. At times, she notes that even when you seem happy enough to be alone this does not seem to be enough to make others happy (especially if those 'others' are in relationships themselves). However, thanks to the central premise - Sofia writing a Muslim dating book - we get lots of anecdotes and hijinks and Mr Wrongs to enjoy. Oh and her Mr Right is awesome!

Finally, there's plenty of family love. Sofia's parents were absolutely hilarious. At one point her mum talks about their cousin coming to London thinking she's all that and it sounded so much like something my gran would say! I also loved how much her friends featured in the books - they really were part of her family and they had quite a few dilemmas to deal with themselves.

I have a fairly long commute, so I'm always hopeful that the book I've chosen to read for the week is a good one. It's always a pleasant surprise when the book is good and funny. It's always good to have a little giggle on the train (although this doesn't usually go down well with fellow commuters. Thankfully I haven't come across anyone like Sofia's Northern line nemesis). Overall, this is a lovely book and I encourage those of you with a love of heartwarming, witty reads to give this one a go.