Reading Challenge Series: May
A new month means new books and new reviews, and in this ninth reading challenge of the series, I have an exciting book coming up for you to start reading for May! Every month I review the book I read in the previous month and then I choose a theme or a genre for the current month in order to help us pick our next book to read. If this is your first time coming across this challenge series, then I encourage you to join in and either pick the same book that I choose at the end of this article or use the theme/genre to help you find a book that you would prefer reading in the next month.
This reading challenge is all about reading together every month to create a sense of community; that way, we can discover new books together that may or may not always be within our comfort zone. The best part about this challenge series is that you can join in whenever you want!
Good Intentions by Kasim Ali
“If love really is a choice, how do you decide where your loyalties lie? It’s the countdown to midnight on New Year’s Eve and Nur is steeling himself to tell his parents that he’s seeing someone. A young British Pakistani man, Nur has spent years omitting details about his personal life to maintain his image as the golden eldest child. And it’s come at a cost. Once, Nur was a restless and insecure college student, struggling to present himself after being transplanted from his hometown with only the vaguest sense of ambition. At a packed house party, he meets Yasmina, a beautiful and self-possessed aspiring journalist. They start a conversation–first awkward, then absorbing–that grabs Nur’s attention like never before. And as their relationship develops, moving from libraries and cramped coffee shops to an apartment they share together, so too does Nur’s self-destruction. He falls deeper into traps of his own making, attempting to please both Yasmina and his family until he no longer has a choice. He must finally be honest and reveal to those who raised him the truth he’s kept hidden: Yasmina is Black, and he loves her. Deftly transporting readers between that first night and the years beyond, Good Intentions exposes with unblinking authenticity the complexities of immigrant families and racial prejudice. It is a crackling, wryly clever depiction of standing on the precipice of adulthood, attempting to piece together who it is you’re meant to be.”
A lot of this book is a flick through the two main protagonists’ lives and their relationship together, jumping between past and present: between Nur, a British Pakistani man, and Yasmina, a British Sudanese woman. They have been together and in secret for four years, with Nur’s family not even knowing that Yasmina exists and that they live together. This obviously leads to some consequences and repercussions on both Yasmina and her family. It was fascinating to see how this part of the story unfolds over the many pages, as well as how they respond to each situation and the conversations that took place.
A downside for ‘Good Intentions’ was however that there was not a lot happening, there was only general conversations, some day-to-day life, and not much information on the character depth and family cultures. Fortunately, I did not lose interest as the book addressed many themes and topics such as anxiety, depression, colourism, racism, and homophobia through Nur and Yasmina without covering too much so that there is not enough space for everything to into the pages. I felt that the author Kasim Ali dealt with these issues well and gave enough room to discuss each of these topics.
The idea of an interracial couple torn apart by the burden of parental expectation and the heavy cultural pressures is a fantastic idea, though towards the end we realise that what was hurting Yasmina and their relationship the most was Nur himself. It is that conclusion that I found most satisfactory, therefore I would give this book a strong four stars out of five.
The next book I have picked up for May’s reading challenge is called ‘Book Lovers’ by Emily Henry. Described as an enemy-to-lovers bestselling hit, Emily Henry gives us something we all love if you are a romantic at heart!
“Nora Stephens’ life is books – she’s read them all – and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby. Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away – with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute. If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again – in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow – what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.”