Book Talk: Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

Book Talk: Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayisha MalikSofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik
Series: Sofia Khan #2
Published by twenty7 on September 3, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Humor
Pages: 464
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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"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.

The internet is the best of times and the worst of times. One of the times that it is the absolute best is when you get book recommendations you’ve never heard of from Twitter. I only wish my memory was good enough that I could remember for sure who recommended Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged to me. (Initially, I forgot to turn italics off, so to me was in caps and part of the title, which made me laugh, and also she’s totes not obliged to me, so.) Despite the fact that I haven’t bought more than a handful of books over the past couple years that I was not immediately planning to read, I immediately bought this one, and that was such an amazing life choice. Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged has a very Bridget Jones vibe, only contemporary, with publishing tie-ins, more depth, and a delightful Muslim heroine.

Sofia Khan‘s written in diary snippets, which surprised me for a little bit because I haven’t read a diary book in eons, but within a couple of days of entries, I could not put this book down. Sofe has a big personality, and she’s got enough contradictions and flaws that she feels incredibly real. I highlighted so many lines in this book from the beginning to the end, because Sofia is so freaking funny and also sometimes so insightful it hurts.

“I’ll happily stop saying shit to people as soon as they stop saying shit to me.”

Sofia Khan is a kindred spirit. She’s fierce and grumpy, and I love her. Like, literally all of her friends comment on what a negative grump she is at some point or another, and I relate to her so hard. But she’s also a fierce protective lioness who will totally have your back. Love Sofe.

The issue, of course, is keeping the words you should be saying out loud in the confines of your overwhelmed brain. But you have to be careful: these words can either pierce the tension and release it, or inject and inflame it, until the tension swells so mightily everyone is bogged down with the weight of it.

That’s the thing with words. Whatever you do with them—in or out—you’ll have to live with the consequences.

Sometimes Sofia can be quite silly that you might want to dismiss her as a bit of an airhead, but she’s one of those people who disguises insecurity in humor and snark (not at all relatable). There’s so much more to Sofia than what she necessarily shows to everyone. Girl is deep and clever, and she drops some serious knowledge.

Of course it’s not important whether someone’s read Harry Potter or not. Except that they must’ve been asleep for the better part of this century. Also, one shouldn’t off-handedly disparage something they’ve not read.

PREACH.

Always be around the people that see the best in you. Gives you a fighting chance of maybe one day being that person.

As a reader, I’m all about voice and the relationships between characters. I’m primarily drawn to romantic relationships, because that’s just how I do, but any well-drawn and dynamic relationship between two characters makes me happy. The cast of Sofia Khan is so well-drawn. I love Sofe’s friend group, with their dramas and mini-fights and their endless love for each other throughout. They all have lives and problems of their own, and they do not exist just to give Sofe advice. I also like that the friends totally ignore each other’s good advice sometimes, which is also so realistic; if you’re in the middle of big feelings, you don’t want to listen to anyone with their logic and their cynicism.

Sofia’s family charmed me early on. Her parents argue and nag and stick their noses into everyone’s business, and, though they’re incredibly different from my family, they totally reminded me of my family. There’s so much love between Sofia and her parents and her sister, but they all drive each other mad constantly, which is kind of what family is to me tbh. They’re not always healthy but they are always loving, and ultimately they learn and support one another. My heaaaaaaart. View Spoiler »

Though I won’t spoil the romance, I will say this book has the honor of being one of the rare ones where I wasn’t totally positive what the ship would be at the outset. I had my theory, and it did turn out to be right, but I wasn’t positive it was right. View Spoiler » The dating app messages were hilarious, and there’s a lot to relate to there for any reader who has tried online dating.

What I would not have expected to find so powerful was Sofia’s relationship with God, which I normally wouldn’t capitalize but will out of respect for her faith. I have very little tolerance for religion in books as a general rule, but sometimes it works, and this is one of those cases. Sofia’s deeply faithful, constantly battling with her mother about wearing a hijab and praying at the office in the middle of the day even when it’s really awkward. She chose everything and defends her right to do so. But, Sofia’s also open-minded. She knows what she believes and stands by it, but she doesn’t demean anyone else for making a different choice, which is one of the many reasons I love her so much. Our culture has such a shitty, one-sided, inaccurate view of Islam, and this book is a breath of fresh air and different perspective. It’s a reminder that there’s no one way to be Islamic, and that a Muslim might not think or act in the way that people assume.

Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged made me both laugh and cry as I was reading, which is a rare feat. It’s not the only book to do it, but that immediately pushes it onto my top favorites list with such fantastic company as Becky Albertalli. I know we children of the internet age (listen, I know I barely used the internet as a kid, but whatever I am a millenial let me have this) use the phrase “all the feels” a lot, but this time I really, truly did have all the feels.

I thoroughly one hundred percent loved this book, and I want to push it on all of you. However, I did read the sequel, The Other Half of Happiness, and I’ll just say that it wasn’t as much my thing, and to pick it up with caution. View Spoiler »

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

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