Title: God Smites and Other Muslim Girl Problems
Author: Ishara Deen
Publisher: Deeya Publishing Inc.
Publication Date: 15 January, 2017
LIKE NANCY DREW, BUT NOT…
Craving a taste of teenage life, Asiya Haque defies her parents to go for a walk (really, it was just a walk!) in the woods with Michael, her kind-of-friend/crush/the guy with the sweetest smile she’s ever seen. Her tiny transgression goes completely off track when they stumble on a dead body. Michael covers for Asiya, then goes missing himself.
Despite what the police say, Asiya is almost sure Michael is innocent. But how will she, the sheltered girl with the strictest parents ever, prove anything? With Michael gone, a rabid police officer in desperate need of some sensitivity training, and the murderer out there, how much will Asiya risk to do what she believes is right?
A Brown girl on a cover? Raises eyebrows ~
Wait, the MC is muslim? Say what?!
A mystery novel too? This is too good!
A Nancy Drew but not quite…? Need. right. now!
Yep, I was very excited to read this book and certainly didn’t need twice telling to know that it showed SO much promise. I had heard so many good things about it and was delighted to find that the book delivered, plentifully!
Asiya Haque, Bengali living in Canada, is your everyday highschooler who is busy making sure she is getting good grades, working hard at her job, constantly being overshadowed by her seemingly picture perfect sister and most importantly staying out of trouble so as not to alert the Mutaweenies. To add to her already busy life is her growing crush on Michael, the hot new guy. Well if that isn’t a recipe enough for trouble, let’s add that Michael might have some, secrets… One day she makes a fateful walk down the forest where she finds herself alone with Michael which set to motion a roller coaster of events that find her doing all sorts of interesting things. All bad, according to her mother. Overall, I found Asiya to be an instantly likeable character. She isn’t annoying and whiny. Instead she’s intelligent, smart and considerate. She also tries hard to make the best out of her sticky situations and takes responsibility for her duties.
Now Michael… I vowed to myself not to let another Michael wreck my fictional crushes list but I failed miserably (cue Thermopolis diary flashbacks~~). Though his character isn’t as well developed as Asiya’s and his actions quite questionable, I was moved by his actions towards her and am excited to know more about him in future sequels. Most of all I’m itching to tell him he’s a goondha’s son. Dammit, the ending. I was pulling my hair screaming. Please don’t make the wait too long Ms. Deen!
Secrets are intriguing and all but then there’s Asiya’s parents. From the get go we are introduced to them as the kind who have a hands on approach to parenting, so much so that they keep an eye on their kids every movement. We see conservative family values in play, tight bonds between parent and child, and an almost all seeing hold on activities of the children within the household and in the community. The comparison of the mother/child bond to a melon and bagel had me laughing for a good few minutes, but the message of being thankful and having complete obedience to parents was definitely gotten across to both Asiya and the readers. Well, I hope so.
This was my first Muslim MC YA book I’ve read and if I thought I understood the importance of having #ownvoices in print, now I appreciate it much more. The first person narrative was an excellent choice as this allows us to be inside Asiya’s head, reading her thoughts and ideas, hence giving us a more indepth understanding on things going on around her. It also helps present muslim youth in a more normal and everyday image, showing that they feel the same things anyone else does thanks to the inner and outer commentary that ensues. I found interesting how effortlessly Islamic values, Quránic verses and stories from the life of the Prophet were interwoven into the characters thoughts and conversations and the narrative as a whole.
While religion plays a big part of the story and her life, so does culture and her environment. We are made aware of the trials muslim youth go through to try and find a compromised path between having to keep up and fit into two important circles of their life. I loved how easily the use of bengali words and customs were added into conversations and in Asiya’s inner monologue. I was giggling in delight at how Asiya and her friend work out having to deal with each others families, caz girl, same~~~
The mystery of the story does NOT take a back seat. The story was fast paced with every page leading on to new clues that moved the plot along. I found the supporting characters to be a bit lacking, nevertheless they played their part. The romance adds spice to the story with Asiya finding herself alone with Michael more and more, while I spent those moments internally screaming “look out for the Mutaweenies!!”
As to the author, I hope the Mutaweenies aren’t after you too because in the end what you write especially as WoC and a Muslim will not please everyone. What’s important to remember is the importance of representation and #ownvoices narrative for readers in all genres of literature. As a muslim there isn’t many YA books out there that speak to me personally, so this book is an important one of many that are now entering print so we are eternally thankful for them. I was especially moved by the dedication for this book: “For all the girls who were never told someone like them could, not even in books.”
Note: I was sent a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review! Thank you so much! I loved the book, and I will definitely be recommending it.
If you haven’t picked up God Smites and Other Muslim Girl Problems I suggest you do. Not only will you get an insight into the daily trials we girls go through,and how we try to escape the God smites (trust me, not often though!!), you have a mystery in your hands. Is Michael innocent? Will the police listen to Asiya? And most importantly, will they get together??
If you have read this book, let me know what you loved most about it? What are your thoughts on Asiya’s inner monologue? Who do you think is the real culprit?
Till next time..