Secrets of A Henna Girl by Sufiya Ahmed
A book about family honor and what it means to a girl who is not as separated from the horrors of arranged marriage as she believed. Zeba is a young girl whose family lives in Pakistan, but she has never considered the idea that, like her mother before her, she will have to marry out of obligation rather than love. While her mother grew to love her husband, Zeba cannot imagine leaving Britain behind, and when – on a family holiday- she is tricked, she will do anything to return home rather than marry her cousin Asif.
Wow. This book is one that was just… I know that I am going to have trouble describing it.
It was a short book, and usually I read longer novels, because when I get so involved in a story and it’s characters, I do not want it to end. However, this was not a problem here: this book was so elegantly written, there was not a single word that was not needed, so it was a perfect length. I found the intricate folding together of cultures and traditions in this book fabulous – the use of Urdu and other language’s words for titles (e.g rani for queen or beti for daughter) helped to make it feel even more real.
It was really interesting to see how people live, so close to us, but also separated – arranged marriage is an issue that affects people in Britain today. Zeba was a character who felt very real, and I felt very emotionally involved with her struggle, at one point I was actually crying (although I won’t reveal what point that is, it’s a pretty major spoiler).
There were times I was staring at the pages in shock, and others when I was close to tears, this book was an emotional roller coaster, and one that I could not fault in any way.