Welcome to my stop on the Sorry It’s a Girl blog tour! Huge thanks to Random Things Tours for giving me the opportunity to take part in this! I was provided a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.
CW: drug use, child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, suicide attempt
Set in Lahore, Pakistan in 2018 Maya and Arzoo are best friends and part of the country’s elite. As well as living a life of luxury, they are beautiful, smart and have gained entry to renowned Ivy League schools. However, their lives aren’t as perfect as they may seem. In fact none of the lives of the five women featured are as glamorous as they want their lives to be, or at least, appear to be…
There were a lot of characters in this novel, most of them unnamed and simply referred to by their initials (eg. Mrs S). Among these characters were also a handful of named characters who the novel focused on in some way. I only found a couple of the characters likeable, however that isn’t a bad thing at all as I was fascinated by so many problematic people. In fact by having so many problematic characters, this novel felt very refreshing. I liked seeing the inner conflicts that Arzoo and Maya both had of their culture and families against their freedom and the West. Khan did a great job in illustrating how complex the identity of a young Pakistani woman is and how they are often told they need to choose a single part of their identity, that both can’t coexist inside them. I also liked how she showed the many different ways this conflict can manifest and it isn’t just a straightforward choice.
Whilst there wasn’t as much focus on Fehranaz as Arzoo and Maya, I found that I was most drawn to her story and it was truly heartbreaking. I also thought that it was a brilliant contrast made by Khan to show someone a girl who also lives in this luxury world but in a completely different way to the rest of the characters. Although, this plotline was my favourite and I would have loved to have read more of it, the fact that Khan sprinkled it in amongst the main plots of the other two girls kept me hooked and eager to read the book.
Going into this novel I didn’t know a great deal about Pakistani culture, I know a little due to my friends and colleagues but this was still an eye opening read. As well as presenting an aspect of Pakistan that has long been absent from Western media; this novel also presented an interesting tale on feminism – how it isn’t always men that suppress women but that it is also other women forcing the societal ideas of a perfect wife and mother onto other women. Whilst this is presented in an extreme way in the novel (I will never be able to forgive Mrs. S’ cook), I never doubted that this wasn’t possible and it still felt realistic – instead I realised how little I considered this issue myself. One of the elements I really enjoyed about this novel was the narrator and how the novel was told: from the outset it is implied that this is a true story and identities have been hidden to protect those it’s about which immediately sucked me in.
Whilst the novel was a little confusing at times as it wasn’t always clear straight away which character the chapter was focussing on, or the timeline of events as it would occasionally jump back and forth; I felt that this could also reflect how these stories aren’t actually unique to these characters and, in fact, so many women are facing situations like these in reality everyday, which is heartbreaking to think about. However, at the same time it is also uplifting when you consider the outcomes for some of the characters. In fact, I found the last line of the novel to be one of the most uplifting that I have read.