I have always been a little weary of sequels as I feel my expectations are always greater if the first book has been a great read. ‘The Other Half of Happiness’ by Ayisha Malik is a sequel to ‘Sofia Khan is Not Obliged’ and Malik doesn’t disappoint. Through this book, Malik has attempted to address not just the challenges of a cross-cultural marriage but marriage as a whole. She has also brought to light the issues faced by diverse writers in the publishing world though I would have liked to read more about this.
This time round, the protagonist Sofia Khan is tasked with writing a book about Muslim marriage and the story is interspersed with Sofia’s notes for this book. One note that I found to be truly heart warming is “Count every lucky star you have – they will come in the shape of friends you love”. The reader is also privy to excerpts from the draft of her book so these combined with the notes provide an effective parallel to the plot.
Malik’s characteristic humorous style of writing is prominent throughout the narrative. Take for example this scene at Sofia’s wedding “Aunty number thirty three was putting an envelope in Conall’s hands before walking to me and asking the cameraman to take a photo. ‘Congratulations, Beta’, she said. Then she looked over at Conall and said ‘Goray jism ka maza lena’ What is wrong with aunties?. Having had a big South Asian wedding myself and dealing with a cackle of aunties, I found myself keeling over in uncontrollable laughter!
Sofia’s friends and sister Maria continue to remain her strong support system and I was really pleased to see Sofia’s mum’s character really standing out in this sequel. I must say that I was a bit miffed with one of the characters, as I had found him really endearing in the first book. Perhaps his role towards the end of the story didn’t cut it for me. Having said that, Sofia’s character development and her resilience more than made up for it. A few new characters i.e. Uncle Mouch, Hamida and Sakib provide the sequel with refreshing angles.
It has been a pleasure to read and review this book, which is set for release on 6th April 2017. I would like to extend my genuine gratitude to both the author and publisher. Using the author’s words, ‘Thanks to God’ also!