God Smites and Other Muslim Girl Problems (Asiya Haque Mystery #1) – Ishara Deen

Paperback, 236 pages
Published January 15th 2017 by Deeya Publishing Inc.
Source: Author

  1. First, it is not often you get a WOC face forward on books meant for kids. Yes, even illustrated WOC are either in silhouette or turned away from the front for reasons I don’t know.
  2. And for Muslim women? Hell, being on a cover is an impossibility unless of course you want to discuss the seven billion ways in which we are oppressed and waiting for a white survivor to save us.
  3. What I’m saying is God Smites and Other Muslim Girl Problems is an important book for many reasons but mostly because…, well the dedication says it all:

    For all the girls who were never told someone like them could, not even in books.

  4. needed this book when I was a teen but sadly I didn’t have it. Not so sadly, other girls my age, well not my age but teenagers, current teenage Muslim girls I mean, gosh, other teenage Muslim girls  who are wondering why the heck they have to deal with all the hostility targeted toward them when all they are trying to figure out is whether to wear that orange shirt/hijab on Monday morning or not–they have this book to read.
  5. Asiya is the middle child of Bengali immigrant parents who are super conservative Muslims .
  6. Her mother is convinced even being in the presence of boys will somehow lead her to throwing off her clothes and having sex with them.
  7. So this means Asiya is crazily protected and sheltered, to the point that even going to volunteer requires hours of wheedling.
  8. Asiya’s mom should take a chill pill.
  9. She’s pretty cool however but I can’t say more without spoiling.
  10. Anyway, Asiya has a crush on this boy but she knows nothing will happen because dating in Islam is a no-no or well, it also depends on the family you live in and whether that boy is also Muslim. Family politics.
  11. Look, when I was an adolescent in Fiji, we had secret codes for secret relationships. You can’t put teenagers in one room and not expect things to happen.
  12. That’s silly.
  13. Anyway, Asiya’s hormones notwithstanding, or maybestanding, abort sentence, I don’t know what I’m saying. ANYWAY, Asiya and her crush are walking a forbidden walk in the woods behind the place she volunteers at when they come across the body of a woman.
  14. The crush tells Asiya to scoot and Asiya thinks “awww, he wants to protect me and keep my name out of the papers” or something. Only not.
  15. Turns out boy disappeared, he’s the main suspect and there’s a very unlikable policeman who is gunning for Asiya because of reasons.
  16. That policeman is a jerk. The jerkiest of a jerk and if I came across someone like him, I’d excoriate him from the safety of my house. Because I’m smart like that.
  17. Anyway, Asiya’s crush asks her for help while everyone is like “Girl. The boy has a police record. GIRL.”
  18. But Asiya’s got the feels. And she feels like God has told her to help because that’s what Good Muslims do. Help. And also her hormones.
  19. So Asiya is determined to find the murderer and help peoples.
  20. That, in 19 bullet points, is the plot of the novel. I might have missed something.
  21. I enjoyed the novel immensely. I felt like the book echoed my own (vastly different in some ways) experiences as a Muslim girl growing up.
  22. Because there is a tendency in media to either vilify Muslims or cast them in tragedies. We never get to see Muslim youth as simply being Muslim youth. While there is no denying that the stories of people in extenuating circumstances are important, the stories of kids who are simply trying to stay alive and prosper in a society determined to read them as evil personified are important.
  23. I empathized with Asiya’s experiences especially regarding the HORRIBLE men at the masjid who, true story, exist. Not all of the preachers are like the awesome Imam in Kamala Khan. I WISH. I’ve seen my fair share of preachers who are misogynistic as hell and who mistake tradition for religion, who are content to interpret scripture and hadith as it suits their needs.
  24. Nope.
  25. Also, the book is FUNNY. Asiya’s extreme fascination with sex (the easiest way is to not mention it at all for you to think about it) and then the horrified realization that her mother may be right because hormones is funny as heck.
  26. I don’t know if those from outside the community will be able to relate to the delicate balance (it is delicate) of being completely pure while still maintaining an allure that makes you happy. Ha, being a woman and being happy in your body and your sexual urges is entirely spoiled by the years of conditioning that even thinking about sex is wrong.
  27. Anyway, I’m saying that Asiya’s struggle is real.
  28. The only thing that felt discordant to me about this book was how Asiya didn’t throw a tantrum.
  29. Look, I know she’s a good girl but even good girls need to let out steam before they combust. Asiya’s parents though cool ultimately were insanely overbearing.
  30. Perhaps it’s because I am an island girl (South Pacific islander) but my parents are pretty darn conservative as well and even they didn’t treat us girls like the way Asiya’s parents do.
  31. I mean, they have reason to considering some of the things Asiya gets up to because dang that girl. She goes and does things she knows she shouldn’t and then ALWAYS gets caught.
  32. Girl.
  33. I would have appreciated a tantrum. But maybe it’s because my experience was different.
  34. I would have thrown a tantrum.
  35. But other than that, I LOVED this book. Cuz Asiya’s mom, man, she is so cool in the end that I forgave her (okay maybe not entirely).
  36. I wasn’t able to guess the perpetrator because the red herrings fooled me.
  37. Also, gangsters to give your mother something else to freak about.
  38. If you really want to be accepting and inclusive, you will realize that people who are marginalized can have mainstream stories where they are the heroes, the villains, the love interests and the One with the power.
  39. You will also get your hands on this book for your library/collection/children/self because it comes with my stamp of approval and have I let you guys down yet?
  40. (If I have, don’t tell me, I like my delusions.)
  41. Read this book.