So much YES!
Although I haven’t stepped into the YA genre for a while I’m glad I got the chance to read and review this gem. I loved so much about this book. I found myself nodding and laughing out loud at so many points in the story. It was like speaking to an old friend who you just lost touch with but you meet after years and nothing has changed, you guys can reminisce about the old days and still complete each other’s sentences.
Ishara Deen is so right to dedicate this books to ‘all the girls that never got told they could, not even in books’.
Growing up, books and literature were not just a form of escapism but my go to place to learn about the wider world and its adventures.To me, its tragic that the ‘mainstream’ books that kids get to read have minor or no diverse characters in them and therefore not enough recognisable characters that say to them “Hey, the world is your oyster and you can do and be anything you want”. Instead they usually say “hey look at all the things you’re probably not gonna do because you’re ‘insert minority group”. It is also very tiring to have to repeatedly tone down or even completely mute parts of your identity in order to understand, enjoy and relate to a popular narrative in a book (on any form of media). Which is why we need more books like God Smites and Other Muslim Girl Problems to fall into the hands of people like me (the younger me to be specific).
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?
What I loved most about this book was Asiya herself, I loved the way that her character has none of the self-pity or victimhood that sometimes characterises protagonists who juggle two worlds/cultures. Instead, Asiya is portrayed as a fierce, conscientious young woman with so much spirit! You’re not really surprised when she takes it upon herself to get her friend (and more?) Michael and then her boss of the hook for a murder that she is convinced they didn’t commit. You find yourself rooting for her and your heart skips a beat everytime she’s in a tricky situation.
I also really enjoyed the author’s way of giving insight into the Bangladeshi-Muslim-Canadian diaspora. Her way of writing and describing Asiya’s hometown, culture and close knit community is very organic and thankfully lacks the patronising tone that I dread in books about South Asian communities in the West. In a very subtle way we are shown the diversity that lies within such communities. That not everything is Us/Them or Insider/Outsider. There is a lot of grey, and figuring out how you fit into that ambigous space is the essence of our protagonist’s struggle.
All in all this is great book that I would highly recommend. I will definitely reading the next line up in the series to find out what happens in the Asiya-Michael story and what other mysteries she gets to unravel!
Check out the book and get your copy Here
*This book was sent to me in exchange of an honest review*