Mirza’s debut novel is slow paced with wonderful prose and a captivating story. It is about a devout Muslim family originally from India who settle in California. The father, Rafiq, travels often for business, loves his wife and three children but has high expectations for all of them. The mother, Layla, devotes herself to her family and never regrets it. The two daughters are obedient and hard working. The youngest member, a son, Amar, is the challenge. He does not do well in school, leaves the mosque when it is time to pray and is always arguing with his father.
The novel begins at the eldest sister’s wedding, but soon after jumps to Amar’s difficulty in first grade. At first it is a bit disconcerting that the years change so quickly, but soon the reader learns to go with the flow. Fatima Farheen Mirza is an excellent writer who has given us five unforgettable characters.