Fatima, Farah, Bubblee and Mae, the four sisters of the Amir family, are sometimes tired of being the only Muslim young women in a rural British village, not helped by their eccentric neighbours, including the hippie nudists next door.
Oldest sister Fatima - or, as her family have always nicknamed her, Fatti (which, she worryingly suspects, has just as much to do with her inability to lose weight and guilty-pleasure love of Primula squeezy cheese as it does her birth name) - is having a particularly hard time finding her place in the world, especially when a family tragedy strikes and Fatima discovers that she was adopted. Her aunt in Bangladesh is her real mother, leaving Fatima questioning everything she thought she knew about her family.
As each sister struggles with life, love and faith, as Farah learns to cope when her husband has an accident, Bubblee learns to stop judging other people's lives and Mae faces burgeoning YouTube stardom, Fatima learns what it really means to be a big sister and to bring her family back together by organising a big village bake sale to help fund rebuilding the family business.
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- Lillian Rodriguez
Mae. Even though she was probably the most annoying at the start of the book, and even though she kept doing those same things that were just as annoying later on, seeing things from her point of view really changed the context over time. She held the family together behind the scenes, breaking rules, keeping in touch with people who were excommunicated and otherwise pulling strings to make things happen, and she sincerely didn't expect anything back.
I also thought her character was especially vividly written, she reminds me of a few people I know. The author was really good at turning around your perception of a character naturally, without making it seem forced or making anyone automatically the hero, their roles all shifted and just kind of fell into place.
Everything! This was a great performance, the characters came to life. The different narrators seemed natural with the different perspectives, they even smoothed over the chapter transitions that I normally find kind of jarring in books that have a lot of switching back and forth. I always knew which character was talking right away, and they all had a lot of personality.
Maybe not exactly a moment, but a situation, when Farah and Bubblee eventually reconciled with each other over sorting bills and tidying the house. There wasn't ever really a grand scene to resolve everything with "I'm so sorry I was wrong all along" or anything like that, they were still upset and annoyed with each other. But they just kept coming back time and again, and working together while they bickered over things, and gradually got close enough to talk to each other again.
Even though it was imperfect and messy, it eventually worked itself out with time and effort, and it felt very real. I wish there were more movies set up like this, then we might have less ridiculous expectations of our relationships.
I hope the author keeps writing, I really want to read more of her books!