Genre: General Fiction
Series: Sofia Khan #2
Publication date: April 6th, 2017
Page Count: 448
Sofia Khan #1 Review:
Sofia Khan is Not Obliged
Sofia Khan is just married. But no-one told her life was going to be this way . . .
Her living situation is in dire straits, her husband Conall is distant, and his annoyingly attractive colleague is ringing all sorts of alarm bells.
When her mother forces them into a belated wedding ceremony (elopement: you can run, but you can’t hide), Sofia wonders if it might be a chance to bring them together. But when it forces Conall to confess his darkest secret, it might just tear them apart.
A book to make you smile, laugh and cry, this is the story of a mixed-race marriage and a mixed-up family, for anyone who’s ever struggled to balance their pride with their principles, or stuck around to try to mend a broken heart.
Spoilers included in this review if you haven’t read the first book in this series and some mild ones from the sequel.
Before I start this review, ISN’T THAT THE MOST GORGEOUS COVER YOU HAVE EVER SEEN??!
The Other Half of Happiness picks up where we last saw Sofia in Sofia Khan is Not Obliged: on a plane to Karachi, Pakistan with Conall, her ex-tattooed-neighbour-turned-Muslim-convert. They’re married! I was so happy for them and looked forward to how the interracial marriage is going to have an impact on Sofia’s family, namely her mother and relative’s reactions.
This book was such a roller coaster ride. There were so many things going on, from Sofia’s abrupt marriage to Conall, to moving back to London to pursue her ambition of writing a more serious Muslim-centered relationship book, to witnessing her marriage go through some pretty shitty stuff. Emotions were varied and all over the place for this one!
We’re also introduced to a wider variety of characters in this sequel and I thought that brought more colours into the book. The same set of girlfriends are involved here just like the first book, and it really made you feel like you’re welcomed back at home after a long time away.
This book met my expectations when it came to presenting Asian families’ reactions to interracial marriages and how they dealt with it. Similar to Pakistanis, Malay families don’t openly accept interracial marriages due to conflicts in religion and perception to future family upbringing. So to see Conall and Sofia receive the type of treatment, backlash, gossip and ‘advices’ after getting married was a realistic representation of how Asian families typically are. It’s not the best side of us, but it does happen all the time.
I loved how Sofia just grows more stronger and bolder in this book. She’s had some pretty rough times what with the death of her father in the first book that hit her hard. Even when she finally feels she’s found the right guy, his secrets are what almost made her go over the edge. But her resilience and faith in her religion barely manages to keep her life in check as she plans how best to move forward.
I love strong female characters, with a wonderful set of friends for backup, who eventually find a way to make the best out of everything. Everything Sofia felt and did throughout the book felt so emotionally raw and real that I am not surprised many Muslim women in her position has felt that way some point in her life.
We see her family grow as well what with her mom moving on in life, from being a widow to being engaged to her childhood sweetheart. And I thought it was such a brave thing for her mom to do, knowing that her relatives aren’t going to be supportive. But we see how her previous marriage was difficult and what she went through represented so many Asian wives: sacrificing their youth and dreams so they could bring up their children and give them a better chance of reaching their dreams.
“So many women are unhappy when they’re young. I think it’s great she’s finding happiness now”
We get to see more of Sakib, a fellow editor friend of Sofia, more in this book too. And as an Indian Muslim, he brought up some important issues when it comes to creating a successful career as a minority in London, all whilst having his own marital problems.
We get to see more of Sean, Conall’s brother, and the rest of his family as well. To see how his family reacted to Conall’s conversion and marriage to Sofia was interesting seeing how they were devout Catholics. But I loved how despite everything, they did accept Conall and Sofia as they are without much commotion.
Overall, I loved this sequel. It was a bit hard and depressing to read in the beginning. But by the middle of the book, we got to see Sofia grow into this resilient human being who, despite all her swearing and curses, manages to find strength within herself to accept the hand she’s been dealt with by God and not let those around her down.
I’d highly recommend this duology, for the sake of supporting Muslim authors, and also understanding the complex yet familiar human interaction that Muslims go through.