Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged (Sofia Khan #1) by Ayisha Malik
Published: September 3rd 2015 by twenty7
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Adult
Rating: 4/5 stars – really liked it
Synopsis: “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 . . . ?
I picked this book because a) it’s an own voices, diverse book, b) the author was attending YALC and c) I’ve been wanting some adult contemporary romance in my life. And I’m incredibly glad I did.
This book is about Sofia Khan who is a book publicist in her thirties, single, a Hijabi Muslim, living in London and the daughter of Pakistani immigrants. If you only take these descriptors, the only thing Sofia and I have in common is that we are single. Yet I found this book, and her character, incredibly easy to relate to. It also taught me a lot about her culture, about being Muslim in today’s society in a city such as London, and about family.
I think this is the perfect adult contemporary for people who read mostly YA. Sofia is an incredibly funny main character, which makes her story easy to read. I laughed out loud several times while reading -which is always awkward when you’re on the train. The story has a light tone to it, while still tackling some awful subjects along the line. She’s witty, sarcastic and tends to overanalyze pretty much everything. Like I said, easy to relate to.
The story revolves around Sofia as she is asked to write a book about the Muslim dating scene in today’s society. To do this, Sofia actually has to start dating. She tries to navigate this life while keeping up her relationship with her family and friends who are all going through some things as well. I liked getting this insight in the Muslim dating scene, as I am not familiar with it at all. Reading about their difficulties (living with the in-laws, being a second wife, sex, meeting parents immediately, not being religious enough, being too religious, …) was incredibly eye-opening.
I have to admit that I saw the “twist” coming when I was half-way through the book -if you can call it a twist, that is. And I think that this book was a bit too long and too short at the same time. It takes Sofia far too long to figure her feelings towards someone out, so that part dragged on for too long (in my opinion). As the reader, you only get Sofia’s perspective. And I figured it out probably like 150 pages before she did. But the part after she does I find too short. The ending of the story seemed to abrupt, and I felt like I had missed some serious decision making afterwards. I do have to say that I’m a fan of the romantic interest. Definitely.
Another aspect of the book that I really enjoyed was the focus on friends and family. Family is such a big part of Sofia’s life, and that is represented in the book as well. I adore family dynamics, especially complex ones. Ayisha Malik did an incredible job conveying both the love and the exasperation we feel towards our parents. There is no doubt in my mind that Sofia loves her parents. But at times, she gets really frustrated or annoyed with them. And I love that! After all, that’s the reality for so many of us.
Then there are Sofia’s friends. I love how these girls are always there for each other, with ridiculous advice and terrible dating stories. How their experiences and goals in life are so different, and how they all support each other no matter what.
Aside from the fact that this book was a little bit too long, there was one other thing I didn’t really like. The narrative is broken up in time. For example: 2.36pm “….” 4.52 pm “…”. I hope you know what I mean by that. It’s almost like blog posts? You read her thoughts and experiences at that exact time. I’m not entirely sure why that didn’t really work for me. I felt like the narrative didn’t really flow, because it wasn’t allowed to. The constant stops and slight jumps in time took me out of the story a bit.
I would highly recommend this book. If you like contemporary reads, you should definitely give this one a go. Even if you read only YA contemporary! I loved the fact that this is centered around the Muslim dating scene, loved the fact that it’s own voices, loved that it’s set in London, loved the family and friends in it and really clicked with Sofia’s sense of humor. Is it a bit too long? Yes. But I promise you’ll enjoy the journey this book takes you on.