The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters – Nadiya Hussain

“It’s not as if we get to like everything in life, but we accept it and get on with it.”

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Blurb: “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.”

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This book is the debut from Nadiya Hussain – the winner of Great British Bake Off 2015. I’ve noticed that Nadiya has dipped into creative writing before with her Bake Me A Story which is a recipe book accompanied by original stories but this is her first full-length novel.

The story is centred around the Amir Sisters, living in a small English village. Fatima is in her thirties and has failed her driving test fifteen times and gains her income from being a hand model, Mae is a teenager with a YouTube channel that has gained over 11,000 subscribers, Bubblee is an artist living in London and Farah is married to her cousin. There is also a brother in the family called Jay though he’s difficult to get hold of. When Farah’s husband is involved in a serious car accident, secrets start to reveal themselves causing severe tension within the family.

I really liked the diverse aspects of this book as Nadiya has ties to Bangladesh and this is something she translates over to this story. It was nice to learn something about a different culture. The story is told in multiple perspectives, alternating between each of the sisters. However, the narratives of each sister weren’t obvious meaning I had to go back several times mid-chapter to clarify which sister I was currently following. As Farah is more of the central character plot-wise it would’ve made more sense if everything was from her perspective but I understand the need to split the story in the way it is.

The first half of the book was very bland. It seemed to take a very long time to establish some kind of path the story was going to take and once it reached that point, the story improved greatly and the second half was much better. The book overall just felt very empty. It wasn’t clear where they characters were based and when Bangladesh was introduced there wasn’t much distinction between the two made. It was hard to picture what the characters looked like either as there were barely any descriptions given.  It just feels like it needed more adding to it.

Having said that, it is Nadiya’s debut and the only thing she can do with her next book is keep writing and as she continues to do so, her writing will get better and better.

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