Thank you to NetGalley for my free review copy. All opinions are my own. I was glued to this story to start with. It is such a heart-warming story, showing a woman’s fight for survival. That said, I closed the book and asked myself ‘what was missing?’ Let’s get into the full review.
When a Muslim woman in an arranged marriage is discovered having an illicit affair with an American man, violent, fatal consequences ensue, catapulting her into the epicenter of a political firestorm fueled by anti-Muslim hysteria.
“A gorgeously written book with a protagonist I’ll never forget.”
—Lily Brooks-Dalton, author of Good Morning, Midnight– Now a Major Motion Picture: The Midnight Sky
Zuleikha arrives in Texas via arranged marriage from Pakistan, and soon realizes how different life in America is from the portrayals in the confiscated contraband books and movies her father trafficked in to pay for her education and dowry. Having trained as a pianist without ever owning a real piano, she finally has one—a wedding present from her husband. As Zuleikha learns to navigate her new role as suburban middle-class housewife, she begins to feel diminished by her seemingly kind husband’s regular dismissal. She offers piano lessons to the neighborhood kids, and in doing so begins to find her identity and independence.
Everything changes when Patrick—the father of her young son’s friend—signs up for lessons himself. Zuleihka and Patrick grow closer, and Zuleihka finds herself in love for the first time. Zuleihka is caught between being a good Muslim wife and obedient daughter, and following her heart.
Despite how careful she is, the affair is eventually discovered, and leads to horrific violence with gruesome and fatal consequences. The ensuing circumstances catapult Zuleihka into the glare of the public eye in a foreign land, where she finds herself at the epicenter of a political firestorm with both sides using her situation to advance their own agendas.
The blurb really pulled me in I felt like this would be such a good read, I could not wait to read it. I hate to give away some of the plot, but I need to to fully give my honest reading experience. We follow the story of a woman married off from Pakistan, to an Asian-American man. The struggles she had to adjust to the new environment were interesting to learn about. In the main story, an affair starts the husband finds out, sadly she is pregnant by her husband. However, she ends up in a legal battle with her husband, as she loses her child in a miscarriage due to his actions. The twist is was it an accident? Or intentional? She can’t remember, or finds it hard to make this call.
This is where the story really got interesting, but also the main part that lacked for me. It’s such a catch-22, I felt as I read as a female reader myself, the main character Zu lacked the real emotion and reactions a woman in her position may have expressed. As I placed myself in her shoes she seemed so ‘okay’ with it all. No mourning a child lost, no regret, nothing!
She loses a child late in pregnancy, due to her husband’s actions, and already has one child to fend for. The Muslim community looked down on her, (culture it’s her fault she had an affair). While the American community see her as the victim, ( she lost a child, he is a monster). This played out wonderfully, as I read the conflict. But what about Zu? There was no real emotion from her at all, her thoughts, feelings, anger, sadness at all. It appeared as though she just flowed with the motions of whether to prosecute her husband. At the end it was still not clear what she did. But she heads off into a new life, with her son and minus a husband. What happened to him? There was also no mention of her husband, during the actual legal parts either. It felt one sided to read.
Overall it is a wonderful story, heart-warming, and worth a read, I did enjoy many parts of it. I don’t know if it’s because the author (from my reading) missed out the key part– ‘a deep dive’ into Zu’s feelings and that of her husband’s I had many questions at the end. To me as a reader I felt like I never got the full, raw, reality of this story when you think about the fact that, these cases are very real in real life! This could have made it an outstanding 5 star read for me! Zu was in a very hard place, and so was her husband. I would have loved to read this part.
I would read another book by the author I do like their writing style, but this one here The Black Marketer’s Daughter is 3 stars from me.