Not a fluffy contemporary, but not one without hope. The story is told through three POVs; Misbah, Salahudin, and Noor. Misbah’s story moves from the past right up until the present, when she is married off and emigrates from Pakistan to America. Sal’s story begins with his concerns for his sick mother (Misbah) and alcoholic father who is constantly letting him down. Noor’s parents died and she lives with her uncle, who takes advantage of the fact that he saved her when she was little; she recently confessed her love for her best friend, Sal, upsetting their friendship during a time they both need it most. Noor desperately wants to go to college, even though her uncle expects her to help out more at his liquor shop instead. More drama unfolds when Sal gets mixed up in something he shouldn’t have.
“I’ll survive this. I’ll live. But there’s a hole in me, never to be filled. Maybe that’s why people die of old age. Maybe we could live forever if we didn’t love so completely. But we do. And by the time old age comes, we’re filled with holes, so many that it’s too hard to breathe. So many that our insides aren’t even ours anymore. We’re just one big empty space, waiting to be filled by the darkness. Waiting to be free.”
This was a good story. It’s wonderfully written; you can tell Tahir crafted it carefully with her whole heart in it. It’s a story with a strong focus on Islam and grief. Music is big in this book too, though I was admittedly not interested in this aspect. Whenever a song was named I was either like, Yeah, heard that one before, or, Haven’t heard that one before. I also never felt particularly attached to the characters. I felt like Noor’s uncle/Chahu was an unsubtle caricature of a supercilious, religion-hating atheist.