BOOK REVIEW/Sofia Khan is Not Obliged/ A million things in my mind// accurate representation//we need more books like these
So this book. I LOVED IT!
The book follows thirty year old Sofia, a brown hijabi Muslim woman living in London, as she breaks off her engagement to long-term boyfriend/fiancé Imran, because he wanted them to live with his parents. Her mother is distraught, but Sofia herself is adamant and in true womanly fashion, declares celibacy and decides not to get married at all.
But here’s the thing. Sofia works in the publishing industry and gets offered a chance of a lifetime; to write a book. About Muslim dating. And she takes it.
Cue online dating on a website called ‘shaadi.com’ (literally translates to marriage.com) and hilarious dates/non-dates as she tries to maintain her job, her sister’s wedding preparations, her typical-brown-mom’s demands for her to FIND someone, and her feminist and diverse group of friends and their own love lives and struggles.
The book is written in the form diary entries, and starts off in a really light tone, though some pretty serious and important stuff comes up.
Now, I don’t read contemporary very often, because to be honest, I kind of hate it.
But I really loved the way this book as written.
It had unfiltered thoughts by a feminist and religious Muslim woman (which is very much accurate) and felt real and relatable on so many levels. I especially loved the way her dad was portrayed in this book. Many of the aunties and uncles, family members whose judgment none could escape, all of that was stuff that I have experienced, seen, or heard of in my life.
The whole book felt so personal. It felt like Sofia was my friend and every time I opened the book, I was actually going to hang out with her, instead of reading it. Her friends, family and everyone else in this book, basically—including Naim, the attractive happenstance friend, Suj, the Sikh supermodel friend, her mom, her dad, Conall, and even her boss seemed to jump out of the pages of the book.
I tend to hate characters in a lot of books, but honestly, except for stupid ex Imran, I really liked all the characters. Sofia herself felt so real.
This book mainly follows hers and her friends’ love lives, and gives an inside view of the lives of some Muslim families (a lot of stuff about how they go about the process of marriage/meeting you intended, etc, is very different from what I’ve seen in my family, because every family has their own lifestyle, even amongst brown nations).
There was also the mention of being seen as ‘different’ and dealing with racism. A scene occurs while boarding the train where Sofia gets called a terrorist by an old man, and that bothers her a lot. She thinks about it well into the book.
I love how she’s shown as a flawed character; she tries to be religious/stay devout and clean, but often sneaks cigarettes, and even helps her dad hide his stash from her mom.
Her meetings/ interactions with the supposedly racist neighbor are hilarious. He is a white guy who is very antisocial and unsmiling and in the beginning doesn’t even utter a word—for that reason, and his unsmiling demeanor in the face of her wide grins, Sofia thinks he’s racist and that he sees her as a terrorist, which only drives her to assault him with more smiles and kindness and general awkward conversational word vomit. It’s all very fun.
The!!!! Book!!! Was!!!! So!!!! Character!!!! Driven!!!!
The book really felt like a coming of age sort of novel in a way. Sofia is lost in many ways in her life in the beginning of the book, and through her experiences, the twists and turns of the book, (which often left me laughing) she learns a lot. But I still feel like she was too confused. I know it was part of her character development, but come on, how any times do you call a wedding on and off? Her mistakes felt real and honest. And Imran. Ugh. Get him out of my face, please. That idiot.
Ultimately, in the end Sofia is faced with an unexpected (the plot twist was real) choice, and she has to take a leap of faith. While many characters in the book itself may disagree with her decision, she makes it, and then acts on it, and I think that part really showed how strong and independent of a woman she had come to be.
As an avid fantasy, sci-fi, and adventure reader, I’m used to plots that are much more faster and intense... but, truth be told, I was so eager when reading this book, I was always flipping pages (faster than I read my current favorite fantasy series!)
So in all, Y’ALL SHOULD READ THIS BOOK!
AND THE SEQUEL!