The child of a forbidden marriage, Maha grows up happily in Cape Town until her world changes forever when her parents are killed at a political rally. At the age of eight, Maha is reclaimed by her loving but staid Indian grandparents and taken to live in Durban. Growing up in the claustrophobia of the suburbs what she dubs Slumurbia Maha reveals a love for the outrageous as she clashes with the conventions of her community. Always a free spirit, she soon learns how to weave around the strict boundaries of Muslim life and as a rebellious teenager, nothing holds her back from experiencing first love, a bit of partying and a tantalising romance (all between prayers, of course). But when it counts the most, rules must be obeyed and as she heads towards her twentieth birthday, there is no way Maha can avoid Marriage to a Suitable Boy. With refreshing energy, Maha treats us to the ups and downs of her passionate (though sometimes quite vulnerable) young heart, and a life in which she’s not quite in charge.
I like how the story incorporates slang and Gujarati into the book without really bothering to explain what the words mean and letting you infer from the context of it (but there’s an appendix at the back). Will Maha ever find true love, or will she take after her rebel mother and chart her own path? Aren’t all Suitable Boys boring, or old, or fat, anyway? And what’s with her evil aunty next door?
- Abigail Arunga
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