A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.
Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn't want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid, who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and who dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.
When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.
"Khalid Mirza knows his mother will find him a wife more appropriate than outspoken Ayesha Shamsi; too bad he can't stop thinking about her. Ayesha sees how conservative Khalid disapproves of her family, her teaching job, and the poetry she performs at a local lounge, but she can't seem to stop running into him, first in their east Toronto neighborhood, then on the organizing committee for the Muslim Youth Conference at their mosque. This modern, Muslim update of Pride and Prejudice will have readers smiling as they recognize the clever ways debut novelist Jalaluddin incorporates Austen's words into her work. But even more powerful are the updated details: Khalid's traditional dress causes trouble with his racist manager (a plus-size lingerie company unexpectedly comes to the rescue); Ayesha's independence and feminism make her stand out when she wants to blend in. Mistaken identity, Tim Hortons, a wrestling life coach, a villain who puts Wickham to shame, and a spoiled cousin obsessed with marriage all add to the richness of this winning novel. Ayesha, especially, is Lizzie Bennet-level relatable: sometimes she says more than she should, but she is always true to herself, and it's pretty swoon-worthy to watch Khalid grow to deserve her.--Susan Maguire Copyright 2019 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"In this excellent modern retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, aspiring poet Ayesha Shamsi juggles her dreams and the stifling expectations of Toronto's Indian-Muslim community. She picks a practical career as a high school teacher and watches as her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, collects marriage proposals like trading cards. After a misunderstanding, Ayesha pretends to be Hafsa while planning a youth conference, where she is required to collaborate with conservative Khalid, a newcomer to the area. Ayesha pegs Khalid as rigid and judgmental on their first meeting because of his white robes and reserved behavior. She doesn't object to arranged marriages, but believes compatibility is important, and she scorns Khalid's complacency with accepting his mother's choice of bride. Family loyalty is a recurring theme, as Ayesha puts her hopes of being a poet on hold while she earns money to repay her wealthy uncle and Khalid refuses to question his overbearing mother. As Ayesha and Khalid work on the conference together, Khalid learns to accommodate different viewpoints. With humor and abundant cultural references, both manifest in the all-seeing all-criticizing aunty brigade, Jalaluddin cleverly illustrates the social pressures facing young Indian-Muslim adults. Jalaluddin stays true to the original Austen while tackling meatier issues likes workplace discrimination, alcoholism, and abortion. Even readers unfamiliar with Austen's work will find this a highly entertaining tale of family, community, and romance. Agent: Ann Collette, Rees Literary. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
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