Review: The Other Half of Happiness

Review: The Other Half of Happiness

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

*Spoilers ahead for The Other Half and Sofia Khan*

The Other Half starts when Sofia Khan ends, Sofia marrying her next-door neighbour, Conall, in Pakistan and continues straight from there. I was hopeful after reading Sofia Khan, the first didn’t really do much for me, and I was hoping its sequel would improve the overall story much more.

What I liked most about this novel was seeing it transition from Single Sofia to Married Sofia, and how marriage brings about a whole new journey no one is really prepared for, and Sofia indeed isn’t. Sofia’s mother’s arc was interesting, and I was pleased to see her get engaged, and be happy again, but again even that fell through. The humour is still great, and it carries through the novel, even when the plot disappoints. And the writing style, the journal-type notes Sofia leaves for herself is really witty and fun to read.

Everything just felt off from the second it started. Sofia leaves London to help in Pakistan, once she’s there she’s stuck, and there’s little explanation as to why she’s no longer needed. Keeping her stuck gave way to her deciding to write another book, this time about her marriage with Conall, which she writes to his dissatisfaction. (How will anyone want to read a book on your marriage when your husband doesn’t even want it???) And from there, it’s a cycle of bad decisions that don’t make sense.

Miscommunication is critical in this novel, and it is so frustrating how a lot of this novel’s issues would be fixed if they just talked. Conall with his past, Sofia with her current frustrations, and just everyone in general, just sent like one text, they wouldn’t be in the issue they’re all currently in. The characters all seem to be somewhat different than in the first novel like, as a reader, I could barely recognise them from the first book. Conall, especially, after its revealed he was newly divorced after abandoning his first wife and child, who is suffering from cancer.

Overall, the (current) duology was a fun, quick, and easy read. The overall story was too frustrating for me to read since I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book, the second does a bit better to improve my mood of the entire series so far. I don’t want to sound so negative of this series, and  I can see so many other people loving it, but it wasn’t 100% for me.


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Review: Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged

Review: Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

Sofia Khan is single and ready to mingle, all in the name of her forthcoming Muslim dating book. Sofia is a Pakistani, hijabi Muslim working in the publishing industry. Age thirty and, to her parent’s exasperation, unmarried, Sofia finds herself writing a Muslim dating guide at the point in her life where she’s very much crossed it off forever.

Sofia Khan is neither a tragedy or a issues book which most books around Muslims tend to be about. Which I absolutely commend this book on, but this book just sits right on the middle for me. I didn’t actually hate it, but I didn’t love it either. I think what I liked about this book was how unlikeable Sofia was to me. She’s a witty protagonist who makes poor, poor decisions. Who finds herself in the worst situations that she works well to get out of. I liked how light-hearted it all was, yet critical of a culture that places women’s value on marriage. The moments of culture-clash were relatable and hilarious especially in her workplace which Sofia called  ‘the most white-centric, middle-class industry there is‘, and she’s not wrong.

I really enjoyed the way the book lays out, with its diary-like entries and text message. It’s somewhat choppy as some points, but Sofia’s voice really comes through this way.  I loved the family dynamics and the customs that I literally see every day.

I was certainly thrown off by the central romance, mainly because I hadn’t expected that to come. I was so fixed on a particular part that I hadn’t realised it was going in a completely opposite way. The surprise in the final pages was actually quite interesting. It literally took me until the last line to realise what was happening.

I think what I actually dispised about this book a lot was the microaggressions. And, in my opinion, it really ruined the book for me.  Sinead @ Huntress of Diverse Book put it to words more easily than I could ever, with specific examples that didn’t sit well with me either. She’s also quite hypocritical and narcissistic in a way that she doesn’t seem to realise and I was hoping it would kick in when she recognises the double standards that she holds.

Like Sofia’s mother, and her innocently asking ‘What is this click?’, Sofia Khan is not Obliged merely didn’t click with me. But I am interested in reading its sequel because of that last chapter actually surprised me.


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Content warning: colourism, ableist language, fatantagonistic language, aceantagonistic language, aroantagonistic language. (Credit to Sinead) Death of a parent. (more to be added)