The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters by Nadiya Hussain – Book Review

Title: The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters

Author: Nadiya Hussain

Series: Amir Sisters #1

Genre: Light Fiction, Comedic Fiction, Family Drama

Blurb from Goodreads

The four Amir sisters – Fatima, Farah, Bubblee and Mae – are the only young Muslims in the quaint English village of Wyvernage.

On the outside, despite not quite fitting in with their neighbours, the Amirs are happy. But on the inside, each sister is secretly struggling.

Fatima is trying to find out who she really is – and after fifteen attempts, finally pass her driving test. Farah is happy being a wife but longs to be a mother. Bubblee is determined to be an artist in London, away from family tradition, and Mae is coping with burgeoning Youtube stardom.

Yet when family tragedy strikes, it brings the Amir sisters closer together and forces them to learn more about life, love, faith and each other than they ever thought possible.

My Review

When Nadiya Hussain entered the BBC television competition The Great British Bake Off in 2015 she not only won the top prize but also stole the hearts of everyone who watched that series. The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters is her first foray into light fiction and what a debut it is! That same warmth and humanity that she showed on T.V. shines through in this novel.

However!!!

It must be noted that at the beginning of the book it states that this was written by Nadiya with Ayisha Malik, and Nadiya thanks her in her acknowledgements for “helping (her) through (her) writing process”.

So we don’t know exactly how much of this is pure Nadiya and how much is from the brilliance that is Ayisha Malik. I’ve actually read two novels by Malik in the past, both from her Sofia Khan series, and they were really very good; I would say they were somewhat edgier than this novel in writing style and definitely funnier so that tells me that The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters can’t all be written by Malik.

The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters follows the story of four sisters living in a small English village who, like Nadiya herself, have Bangladeshi roots.

And what makes this a refreshing change from so many other light fiction reads is that this one focuses more on familial love than on romantic love. Each chapter follows the view point of each of the four sisters and, though at times it felt somewhat formulaic, there was plenty of wit and heart in the story to keep me interested.

Each sister had both good and bad points making them feel more real and well rounded, and therefore each felt like individual characters with no one sister feeling like she was written to make up the numbers. It was quite fun trying to decide which of the sisters I was most like myself and it was also very enjoyable reading about Bangladeshi culture in an English setting.

There were no great surprises or twists to the plot and at times the characters did feel a little bit clichéd in their actions but I can say I was never bored!

The storyline was gentle but always entertaining with the Amir family dynamic providing chapters of hilarity interspersed with moments of great emotion.

Overall I very much enjoyed reading about all the different relationships between each of the sisters and their struggles to find their own way in this world. In a marketplace chock-full of light entertainment reads this one is quite a strong debut; no doubt hugely helped by Malik’s presence. And I do think that Nadiya has a bright future ahead of her in this genre as hopefully she will blossom into becoming a fully fledged author in her own right.

If you’re interested in reading Ayisha Malik’s novels for yourself, and you really should be interested, then you can check out my reviews for Sofia Khan is not Obliged here and The Other Half of Happiness here.

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