The Friday 56: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“Khalid didn’t feel like going home right away. His mother would ask about his day, and then he would have to lie. If he told her about the conversation with Sheila, she would demand that he go to the Human Rights commission, or that he be made director of Livertech.

Instead he headed to the only place he felt entirely comfortable: the mosque.”

Uzma Jalaluddin’s Ayesha at Last has been added to my growing list of favorite diverse P&P retellings (I’m always on the lookout for more, so give me your recs in the comments!). This one follows two very different Muslim, Indian-Canadians who clash with their first meeting, but who learn to appreciate one another and learn about themselves along the way. You can read my snapshot review here. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.
      Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.
      Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.”

Snapshot Review: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Title: Ayesha at Last
Author: Uzma Jalaluddin
Series: N/A
Pages: 368
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: June 4th 2019

      “A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.
      Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.
      Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.”

swirl (2)

“Because while it is a truth universally acknowledge that a single Muslim man must be in want of a wife, there’s an even greater truth: To his Indian mother, his own inclinations are of secondary importance.”

  • Diverse P&P retelling – I am currently on the hunt for more P&P and other Austen retellings by and about PoC. Ayesha and Khalid are both Indian-Canadian and Muslim. Both of these identities are essential to who they are as characters and how they move about the world.
  • Ayesha – Loved that this novel features an “older” young adult (Ayesha is 27) who hasn’t quite figured out what she wants out of life yet. She’s fallen back on teaching, but her true passion is her spoken-word poetry. Ayesha is opinionated, willing to go toe-to-toe with anyone who might disagree with her, and continuously pushes against conventional expectations.
  • Khalid – Khalid is incredibly pious, conservative in his beliefs, and feels a strong sense of obligation toward his family. He comes across as extremely judgmental, but he’s also incredibly honest, shy, and socially awkward. I loved every interaction between Ayesha and him, whether they were at odds or not.
  • Nana and Nani – Perhaps the best characters in the novel are Ayesha’s grandparents. These two made me laugh so much. I loved how recalcitrant Nana was, especially when it came to his health and how knowing, yet wise Nani was. Rather than interfering, they allowed the young people in their lives to make mistakes and grow from them.
  • P&P quotes sprinkled throughout – Jalaluddin sprinkles P&P quotes throughout her novel. Some of them are obvious like the quote above, but others you might not catch unless you are more familiar with the classic.

  • Certain aspects of the conflict – I might be a little vague here to avoid spoilers. I didn’t completely buy into the part of the conflict that required Ayesha to not only believe a rumor about Khalid’s family, but also somehow place blame on him when the alleged misdeed took place when he was barely a teen. I couldn’t reconcile what I knew of Ayesha and this sort of unfair judgement she had for what Khalid did or didn’t do when he was thirteen years old.

  • Uzma Jalaluddin’s Ayesha at Last pays homage to Pride and Prejudice without feeling confined by certain aspects. The characters’ struggles feel more relevant in a modern setting and Jalaluddin’s infuses just enough humor and romance to make this a must for P&P fans.

★★★★
(4/5)

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa @ Wishful Endings where bloggers share which upcoming releases they’re most looking forward to. I will be participating in this meme every couple of weeks. Join in every Wednesday and watch your TBR list multiply.

I have been dreaming of Uzma Jalaluddin’s Ayesha at Last since last year when I first heard about it, but then I discovered it didn’t have a U.S. release date until 2019. I feel like I’ve been waiting forever. Ayesha at Last is another diverse Pride and Prejudice retelling that I am excited for and all the reviews I’ve come across have been positive. Cover linked to Goodreads.

 width=Title: Ayesha at Last
Author: Uzma Jalaluddin
Series: N/A
Pages: 368
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: June 4, 2019

      “A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.
      Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.
      When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.”

Are you participating in Can’t-Wait Wednesday or Waiting on Wednesday? Is this book on your TBR? Be sure to leave a link to your post in the comments and I’ll visit!