Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
So this was everything I didn’t know I needed and more! We’ve got your Muslim rep, your desi rep, a retelling of a timeless story, and wonderful characters!
This is such a fun twist on the Elizabeth/Darcy story, especially because it was all too relatable with the rishta aunties and the family relationships (when you marry someone, you’re marrying their family too!)! Loads of drama and fun! There were scenes where I wished I had popcorn because it was just SO. ENTERTAINING.
Let’s talk about the characters: Ayesha is a young woman that wants to be a poet but is a substitute teacher. She’s afraid of moving forward, but won’t admit it. And she may have gotten herself into a little bit of a mishap with her cousin Hafsa leading to some very big miscommunications with a certain judgmental Muslim guy.
Hafsa is the “crazy” cousin that has tons of suitors but also can’t decide but also she wants to have this job—no! THIS job! Wait, oh my gosh, that guy? She’s loads of fun, and I enjoyed her story, especially because of the parallels with Lydia—with more character development and less runs-off-the-end.
Then there’s Khalid. He’s a very religious man that looks like the Muslim male that airport security thinks about (complete with beard and robe—perfect target for racism. It’s seriously such a great spin). He’s easily flustered, honestly clueless, and honestly adorable and so wonderful, though of course he has a few things to learn about himself and the people around him!
There are a few side characters, and I really LOVED the little side stories and how all of them connected! I don’t want to get into too much detail, but it was really fun to see the different spins on the story and the parallels! Some were obvious, while others were not! The conversations were fun and engaging. The relationships were really well written. And best of all…CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT! Y’all know development is my JAM! The story is neatly tied up in a bow and everything feels so perfectly done at the end! I loved the growth and realization that all the characters went through! I loved the happy ending! I loved the representation of all kinds of faith in the religion! I loved the drama and the love!
Obviously, five stars! I would recommend this to anyone who loves retellings (especially Pride and Prejudice), witty banter, self-actualizing characters, handsome misunderstood men, and some great Muslim/Desi representation!