*cover image via 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?'
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 . . . ?
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Sofia is an utterly irresistible as a heroine. Endearing, sharp and quick off the mark, I'd find anyone hard pressed to not fall in love with her. Despite the obvious Bridget Jones comparisons (30-something woman working in media who’s love life takes center stage of the narrative), I’d argue Sofia is even more of an 'every woman' than Bridget ever was. Driven, confident, and opinionated on the outside (you get the idea within the first few pages that Sofia is a woman who know exactly who she is already, thank you very much), on the inside she's failing and falling and saying stupid stuff an inappropriate times. She messes up a lot and yet, you're still rooting for her right until the very end.
Addressing the massive elephant in the room with the book, I honestly barely noticed. Yes, seeing a Muslim woman portrayed in this way has been flung around the press and Internet as revolutionary, but in reality Sofia’s religion played second fiddle to how well the story played out and how much I was enjoying myself. Malik has struck an eloquently written balance between showcasing Sofia’s religious identity, culture, and family, and letting her 'be Sofia’, a woman writing a dating book whilst also trying to manage her own love life and societal pressures of ‘settling down’ and finding a husband.
If anything I’m mad at myself for thinking that having a Muslim female protagonist was such a revolutionary thing in the first place and utterly sad that more books like this aren’t getting published on the regular.
A 10/10 recommend from me!