Review: All-American Muslim Girl

Review: All-American Muslim Girl

Rating: 3 out of 5.

After diffusing what could have been an unfortunate situation on the plane with her father, Allie Abraham begins to question her own position as a Muslim girl. With her Circassian features and non-practising parents, Allie has grown up keeping her Islamic heritage to herself. But she’s done hiding and wants to embrace her faith, but with the growing Islamophobia in her small town, and hiding her interest in Islam away from her father, Allie is caught between two worlds and must figure her place within it.

I came across this book quite a while ago, and I’ve been sitting on this review for quite sometime. And that was due to the fact that I was analysing this book as part of my third-year dissertation in university. Now that dissertation is done and completed, I finally feel confident to write this review. This book has popped up quite a lot within the online communities I am in and the reaction is quite polarising. Some absolutely love this book, while the other despise it and to weigh in my own perspective, I found myself quite in the middle in terms of reaction. I did have high expectations since a lot of reviewers whose content I enjoy spoke very positively about this book, but the book didn’t exactly exceed or fail to meet them.

To start off positive, I really enjoyed the perspective we got from Allie, which is rooted in the author’s own experience. Her “reddish-blond hair, pale skin, hazel eyes” makes Allie feel like a “traitor dripping in white privilege.” No one thinks she’s Muslim because she doesn’t fit the popular stereotype. And she’s very much aware of the privilege while the rest of her family faces overt Islamophobia. But then again, to Allie, she’s “barely Muslim”. Upon arrival of her new school, her new friendship group has her questioning and speaking up a lot. She decides she wants to learn more about her faith and culture that has often left her disconnected from her family. Allie expresses her disappointment that she is unable to speak Arabic to her grandmother because her father refuses to teach her. So she reaches out to the other Muslims in her school community and finds herself joining a Qur’an class with other Muslim girls. Here is where I enjoy the novel the most, I really appreciated the way Allie and the other Muslim girls communicated with each other. It wasn’t always nice but it was refreshing to see different perspectives and to see an active discussion between these girls and their interpretation of faith. “Everyone’s on their own journey, at their own pace.” The final moments of the book were so heart-warming and truly my favourite part of the novel. I just felt a little underwhelmed by most of what came before it all.

One thing I found rather odd was that the story uses the discovery of Jack’s father as a sort of plot twist but within all the summaries online, it is told told outright to the readers who his father is which sort of defeat the purpose of setting it up as a shocking point in the story. No hate to the story, just an odd choice for whoever wrote the book’s blurb. Jack Henderson is our love interest. I didn’t find him particularly interesting as first, but I felt really bad for him because Allie talks about his father, an alt-right leader, a lot and makes him feel bad for having a pretty shitty dad. He’s very much aware of it, and it causes him quite a lot of distress, to the point where he has a full on panic attack after they have dinner. He does eventually stand up to his father, but the way Allie is so harsh on him felt a little unfair. Allie is right to argue that not speaking up is equal to upholding terrible values, and in most situations, she had a legitimate point, but she came across as being way too unfair to Wells. Especially since she discusses a lot about nobody realising she’s a Muslim and how she benefits from white privilege which makes her “safe for bigots”. Maybe it was my fault for assuming she would extend the same branch to Wells too. Considering their relationship is a major aspect in the novel, I didn’t feel for them, nor rooted for them to stay together. There was just a lack of communication that had me wanting to ask Allie why would she even continue dating Wells after learning his father’s identity. Also, this book also brings up many complex issues in terms of religion and I don’t think it really offered great advice. While I loved the introduction of Allie and her Qur’an circle, I feel like this book begins a discussion that it doesn’t want to continue. Like mentioning different things without pondering on it for a moment more.

Overall, All-American Muslim was okay, but I felt like it could’ve been more. I’m not writing off this story completely because it is based off the author’s own experiences and I am in no way invalidating that. I felt quite emotional involved and it’s a great perspective to share. There were parts that really resonated with me but so much of the book was very unfavourable that I couldn’t find myself fully invested in this story. 


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Review: American Panda

Review: American Panda

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

At seventeen, Mei is a freshman at MIT and on the road to complete her parent’s dreams for her: become a doctor, marry their preapproved suitor and continue their family line with children. Living in fear of being disowned like her older brother, Mei can’t seem to bring herself to tell her family her real dream lies with dance. Now she’s away from home and falling in love and learning the truth that could possibly shatter her future forever.

I’m not going to lie, I was surprised by how much I loved this book. I was genuinely thrown off by how much I ended up liking this. The narrative was so compelling as we watch Mei struggle with her overbearing parents and how cultural differences clash with what she wants to achieve – I really enjoyed the emphasis on the issue not being with cultural differences but how her parents use it to put their happiness over Mei’s. Even though Mei as a character and myself are worlds apart, I found her journey so relatable and it had me in tears at so many moments.

Honestly, Mei’s development was one of the best parts of this entire novel. We watch her try to struggle between being a good daughter while also wanting to follow her dreams and you get caught up very quickly in her emotions. She starts off as a sheltered kid who does her best to keep up with her parent’s expectation to slowly learning that it’s okay to not be the perfect image she’s expected to upkeep. And she slowly learns to get rid of the initial stereotypes she holds over other. Chao does an excellent job of portraying the drama between her and her family, which was so heartbreaking to read. Mei’s mother took a long time to grow on her, but you honestly develop a sense of appreciation for her, especially towards the end of the book and how the very same family issues and cultural values that affect Mei has had an impact on her.

The background characters all have my heart. And I loved how Mei’s personal development with all of them ended so happily. Especially with Darren and Nicolette.

Overall, Chao’s debut novel is a hit for me. It was such an emotional rollercoaster and a profoundly personal read that I recommend to anyone.


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Content warning: ableist language, fat-antagonism, the death of a family member and mentions of suicide. (If you’ve read the book and felt like I’ve missed something out, please tell me!)

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

[I found this review hidden in the pits of my drafts, how it managed to stay hidden is beyond me 😂]

Promised to each other by their parents, Dimple and Rishi finally meet at a programming course. Only, Dimple has no idea that she’s being set up while Rishi thinks he’s meeting his future wife.

I would say I was severely disappointed by When Dimple Met Rishi. I really wished the plot made sense. If it were just a little bit clearer, it would’ve improved this story so well. Dimple and Rishi both enter this programming course but the lack of them is doing what they came for is odd. The story is supposed to follow their romance, but I wished it was a bit more consistent in its background. Like there’s an app contest which later leads to a talent show which leads to even more confusion.

I think I’ve come to the decision that I liked these characters separately, but not together, they’re a damn mess that really doesn’t work well.

Dimple was a very irritating main lead. Just because the lines “Not like other girls” wasn’t used, doesn’t mean that wasn’t there. Dimple literally never fails to mention how different she is to other girls because she’s into STEM subjects and how she’s not like those art girls. I wished this book celebrated girls in STEM without throwing girls who don’t go into those subjects under the bus. Dimple is constantly putting down loads of the “mean girls” in this book, which is literally almost all the remaining girls in the book. Most of the time I really enjoyed her character, mainly because she’s ambitious and career-motivated, but the amount of girl hate indeed clashed for me, personally, about her character.

I feel bad for Rishi, he’s trying the most to be on his best behaviour and to get Dimple to fall in love with him. It was a bit creepy at first, and I didn’t enjoy the fact he ends up having to put up a lot with her behaviour. Especially in one scene, there’s an annoying invasion of Rishi’s privacy that’s immediately brushed away in the plot.

Overall, I would say When Dimple Met Rishi was a sweet read, despite my shortcomings about it. A fun, culturally diverse read but I wouldn’t really rush to recommend it.


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Book Review: Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout

23961611you can find the book at:
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my review:

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

In an attempt to escape her music royalty family, Grace Wilde transfers into a Korean boarding school and finds herself falling for a K-Pop star.

If you want a novel with proper representation of Korean culture mixed with likeable characters, I suggest you don’t even bother putting this book on your TBR list. Why? Because this has none of that.
Continue reading “Book Review: Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout”

Book Review: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

you can find the book at:

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Author Website

goodreads summary:

Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

my review:

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

~ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review~

I’ll start with what I did like so it’s not lost in whatever comes next. The style of writing made it easy to read, it’s light and fluffy, and serious when it needs to be. Mercedes was an interesting main character, I didn’t like her, but it was nice to read a YA contemporary that’s quite different. Firsts make a lot of promises, and the potential was so obvious.

I wanted this book to be so about empowerment but it was so bad how lacking the empathy was towards the females vs the amount of care was taken into sympathising with the boys she slept with, especially since they cheated on their girlfriends with Mercedes. But I felt so bad for her when she receives the brunt of the abuse from the girlfriends.

Mercedes logic behind why she’s provided her service is understandable, but again it lacks any proper exploration until the very end where it’s delivered in the biggest info dump ever. She never once tells her experience to the girlfriends or attempts to clear the air on why she did it. I get that they’re extremely mad at her, but considering how strong she was in her justification of her own actions to herself, I just thought she would try at least. Like her reasoning makes sense, but at the same time, I was sitting there thinking, you’re sleeping with people who are already dating other people.

Also, the character of Faye felt so forced and was such an obvious plot device to put Mercy and Zach together. (Mercy’s like oh this new girl is hotter than me, Zach is obvs going to like her better than me, despite Zach being so blatantly obvious about his feelings towards Mercy)

I think the biggest issue I had with this novel was the message it sent about consent. Twice Mercedes tells boys to disregard consent, and completely misrepresents consent and confuses what is a very clear case of rape. And it isn’t really addressed and questioned.

Overall, a novel that was filled with potential. This novel is set in our modern world where women are valued as object based solely on their sexual availability to men. I understand where Mercedes was coming from, but this book wasn’t for me. Don’t be bogged down by my low rating, it’s good because the book does point out an important double standard about sexually active girls and teen boys and does portray a realistic and challenge to slut-shaming and double standards.

BOOK REVIEW: Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine

you can find the book at:

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goodreads summary:

Iris’s father, Ernest, is at the end of his life and she hasn’t even met him. Her best friend, Thurston, is somewhere on the other side of the world. Everything she thought she knew is up in flames.

Now her mother has declared war and means to get her hands on Ernest’s priceless art collection. But Ernest has other ideas. There are things he wants Iris to know after he’s gone. And the truth has more than one way of coming to light.

my review:

Rating:★★★★☆

~ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review~

The title, Fire Colour One,  refers to the Yves Klein painting FC1, I googled it- it looks cool, but the book is Iris who lives with her mother, Hannah, and stepfather in America until Hannah announces one day that they are returning to the UK to see Iris’s father, Ernest, who is dying. Hannah is desperate to get her hands on Ernest’s art collection. Iris has no recollections of her Dad other than what her mother has told her. She has grown up with the knowledge her father wanted nothing to do with her. Gradually, Iris and Ernest start to bond and Iris hears Ernest’s side of the story, and the life he has lived ever since her mother left him years ago.

Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine”