The Other Half of Happiness is the sequel to Sofia Khan is Not Obliged. Therefore, parts of the blurb that follows could be construed as spoilers for the outcome of book one. My review for book one, Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged can be found by clicking here.
Blurb from Goodreads
Sofia Khan is just married. But no-one told her life was going to be this way . . .
Her living situation is in dire straits, her husband Conall is distant, and his annoyingly attractive colleague is ringing all sorts of alarm bells.
When her mother forces them into a belated wedding ceremony (elopement: you can run, but you can’t hide), Sofia wonders if it might be a chance to bring them together. But when it forces Conall to confess his darkest secret, it might just tear them apart.
A book to make you smile, laugh and cry, this is the story of a mixed-race marriage and a mixed-up family, for anyone who’s ever struggled to balance their pride with their principles, or stuck around to try to mend a broken heart.
AHHHHHHHHHHH I AM SO VERY CONFUSED AND CONFLICTED!!!!!!!
I both love and hate this book.
Do you know that wonderful song by Michael Kiwanuka called “Love and Hate”???? The whole time reading this book that song was playing in my head. I think the lyrics of it are perfect for this book because again, this book is more that your usual chick lit. It’s complicated and it’s messy. It’s about love and hate, trust and mistrust and the fine lines between such things. Check out the song on YouTube.
The remainder of this review should be considered a spoiler central zone because it would basically ruin the first Sofia Khan book and I would therefore urge you to go read that book before you even dream of reading what follows!!!!!!!
DON’T RUIN THE EPICNESS OF BOOK ONE BY READING FURTHER!!!!!! You have been warned lol!!!!!
******spoilers for book one ahead******
So at the start of this second book we find Sofia and Conall married and living in Karachi and from the get go it is clear that there is trouble in paradise. Did they ever truly understand and know each other? Did they ask those important questions that a couple should discuss with each other before marriage? Kids? Where to live? Etc etc. It seems that our favourite twosome were all spark and banter in book one but come book two once the banter dried up was there a solid relationship foundation underneath??
Things I loved:
- The messiness. Nothing was easy in this book. Okay maybe the drama was a little too heavy handed at times but life is inherently messy and people invariably mess up.
- The complications of marriage. And they all lived happily ever after is such a cop out. This book didn’t do that. AT ALL.
- The suddenly trying to make your life include this whole other person and whole other set of opinions and viewpoints. Understanding the line between compromise for a marriage and compromising yourself. BRILLIANT!
- How this book didn’t shy away from showing the difficulties of love. How love sometimes isn’t enough.
- How an interracial marriage faces extra difficulties. Cultures WILL clash. Certain things will feel alien to one person or their family. It added a fascinating layer into a relationship just trying to find its feet.
- Complications and negative judgments arising from changing religion. (See later comment regarding fundamentalism)
- The same Sofia Khan wit was ever present. This book may have been heavy on the bittersweet but that humour and those laugh out loud moments were still there!!
- Sofia’s mum was a scene stealer again and her new life post the death of Sofia’s dad was expertly written. I love her mum. She’s just EPIC!!!!!
Things I am unsure about:
******spoilers for this book ahead******
- The dark secret. I don’t know. Was it too much???? I get the idea that we are supposed to truly know our partner before marriage but the arising guilt complex and self sacrifice that went on was so huge that it almost tarnished the whole read for me.
- Sofia. She was not quite as likeable in this book. I needed her to talk and open up more. She was very frustrating at times but conversely I guess you could say that’s what people are truly like when things get difficult. They shut down and don’t share their emotions.
- Ditto for Conall. His personality didn’t feel quite like the Conall of book one. I missed that Conall. This book 2 version broke my heart…. But I guess that was the point… I just didn’t want it broken.
- That last 25% of the book. I actually loved the path of difficulties the couple went through and I was prepared for the ending and approved wholeheartedly of it. But the journey from approximately 75% through the book to 95% was ridiculous. I thought it somehow cheapened the reading experience. I was all set to rate this a very high four star rating but that last journey towards the conclusion just felt too much. I do however very much appreciate the thinking behind having Conall’s brother believing that Conall had somehow become a fundamentalist rather than just a man of religion and faith. I think that was a very strong message of how the world so frequently wrongly perceives Islam. Islam is at its core a peaceful religion and I love that Ayisha Malik was very strong in her writing about getting that positive message across.
- The overall sense of sadness. I get that sadness is the other side of happiness. But my girlish heart wanted a little more happiness for her favourite couple. I guess that’s just natural.
On the whole, this was a really great read and another brave piece of writing. The book certainly didn’t fall into too many *chick-lit/rom-com* cliches and because of the overall personal journeys that the characters took in the book it felt quite gritty and real.
There was much to enjoy in this book and much to cry about…but also much to feel hopeful for too. It really felt like a coming of age tale for marriage and adult relationships and though it does somewhat take the gloss off the shiny, happy ending of book one this book does make for a satisfying read…
A very mixed up but ultimately positive recommendation.