by Sabaa Tahir
Publication Date: March 1st, 2022
Thank you to PenguinTeen for the ARC. My review is unbiased and honest.
This book discussed some incredibly intense topics of abuse and addiction as well as racism and Islamophobia and loss of a parent. Be mindful of these as you read!
This book follows three perspectives. Present day Noor and Salahuddin, and Misbah in the past. Sabaa did such a phenomenal job making each voice distinct. It was beautiful to see the past and present connect, especially after Misbah’s health suffers. Seeing the two characters grapple with their grief in different ways was heartbreaking and beautiful.
There were moments that were hard to read. Salahuddin has to struggle with his father’s alcoholism and the neglect he feels while also trying to grapple with his faith and the grief of possibly losing his mother’s hotel as her health fails. Noor has a controlling and manipulative uncle that won’t let her go to college and wants her to stay far away from Islam.
What I think truly touched me was that their relationship with Islam was complex and it never fell into the rhetoric of “Not like other Muslims” or shaming Muslims who practice differently. Did I relate to this book in terms of the way faith was practiced? Not really. And yet, this book spoke to my core in a way that other books haven’t. This explored turning to faith even when you don’t feel worthy of it. It explores grappling with guilt and sin and forgiveness. AND IT HURT.
What Sabaa Tahir does best, in my opinion, is show the unfathomable love a mother has for her children. We see that with Sabaa’s other books, but this one really focuses on the sacrifices parents make for their children. This book did such a good job of sharing how one life can shape countless others and how one moment can change everything.
I cried near the end because you can feel the struggle in all of these characters and it feels like it’s completely rock bottom, and then you see the little bit of hope. It’s just as much a story of loss as it is a story of recovery and love.