Review - "Sofia Khan is Not Obliged"

"Sofia Khan is Not Obliged" by Ayisha Malik 

"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."

Okay, before I start on my actual review, I'd like to give you some insight on my personal life: 

Originally, I was born in a small country that is located in the Caucasus mountains, in the middle of a war, the second one my people were faced with. When things got too "serious", my parents didn't know any other way than to leave their beloved home, taking their 4 children (my baby brother was born on the way) to somewhere safe. 
So all our possessions were sold, and we left with only the clothes we were wearing and some personal belongings like photos and important documents. A long and exhausting journey through many different countries started for us, we met different people - some helped, some frowned upon us, told us to go back where we came from. 

Now almost 12 years later, we are safe, but the prejudices and other people's disapproval still remain. On top of the fact that we don't belong here, we also happen to come from a place where Islam is the main religion. Immigrants + muslims = fuel for all the racist and prejudiced people. 

We integrated and tried to find our way in a place that is so different from what we know - learned the language, respect the rules and laws, etc etc. We go to school, do our jobs, pay taxes - but somehow the fact that we pray five times a day, or fast during Ramadan, or wear hijabs is a thorn in people's sides. We have been called terrorists more often than I can count. People look different at my sisters, my mother and me, when we wear long skirts and scarfs to cover our hair. It has not been easy and certain things will probably never change. 
We can't go back home, because people are still being killed there and no one is safe, but we don't belong here either. We are stuck, without any home. 

But of course, not all are like that. I have met incredibly nice people along the way and in Austria, dedicated to make us feel home and safe. Who helped us, when we needed it the most. Who smile and greet us every day. Who like to celebrate Eid with us and learn more about us. As long as these people exist, I can cope with the others. 
Because these people give me hope. May Allah bless those who are good and lead the ones who are not, to the right path. 

It was one of my friends from University who told me about "Sofia Khan is Not Obliged" and I was hooked from the very first moment. Muslim characters in media are rare to the point of being non-existent - unless there's need for a terrorist. So a book where the Muslim character is in no way related to anything to do with terrorism is a blessing. Sofia Khan gives me hope and Ayisha Malik is opening doors to a great future for us. 

The story was funny without trying too much, it made me laugh (especially at every Bollywood reference lol) and cry, sometimes both at the same time. It made me question things and learn things. Sofia Khan is relatable, to everyone - Muslim or not. It was an easy read, but still managed to cover serious issues. I couldn't put it down, but I didn't want to finish it either. The love story was great, the characters amazing. I cannot wait for the sequel and I hope many people discover this little gem and cherish it like I do. 

Thank You, Ayisha Malik for Sofia Khan, a character, I can finally fully relate to 

- Claire :)


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