As their lives begin to take different paths, Malak, Kees, and Jenna—now on the precipice of true adulthood—must find a way back to each other as they reconcile faith, family, and tradition with their own needs and desires.
This coming-of-age novel by El-Wardany, an Egyptian Irish poet and BBC broadcaster, captures perfectly the uncertainty of life in one’s mid-20s and how easy it is to become unmoored ... El-Wardany’s highly recommended debut sensitively handles rape, domestic abuse, and the pressure of familial obligation. The book’s particular strength is in its treatment of the women’s Islamic faith as each grapples with what it means to be devout. There are no easy answers here, and readers will be thinking about Malak, Kees, and Jenna long after they close the book.
... sparkling, incisive ... While the novel’s male characters aren’t as well developed, often being either too good or evil to be believable, the three young women and their family members are complex and engaging, while the decisions they make, and often reconsider, are rooted in realistic cultural and emotional pressures. While frothy and chatty, with witty dialogue and plenty of weddings and other gatherings that spark interactions among the characters, the book doesn't shy away from more serious issues, including rape, domestic violence, and unwanted pregnancy ... This novel is blessed by a light touch and evenhanded treatment of its two generations of characters.