Book Club Response 2

I have read Ayesha at Last to completion.

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Ayesha finally revealed who she really is to Khalid at his and Hafsa’s engagement party, who he thought was Ayesha. They had the conference/singles mixer, and it went well. Farzana’s (Khalid’s mother) reputation was essentially ruined and Khalid moved out of her home. The engagement was broken off, and Hafsa went missing, but she came back, as did Zareena (Khalid’s sister). Then, Khalid got engaged to Ayesha, at last.

The book is strongly focused on family, loving and caring for them but also knowing when they’ve gone too far. Khalid was way too trusting of his mother, Farzana, and Ayesha was too forgiving of her cousin, Hafsa. By the end of the book, everyone matured and learned to care for themselves as well. Another theme in the book is about communication. So many simple issues could be fixed if people just talked to each other. If Ayesha never posed as Hafsa, if Farzana and Hafsa didn’t go behind Khalid’s back, if Khalid understood the situation with Zareena. So many things.

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Uzma Jalaluddin, the author of Ayesha at Last.

There were many powerful scenes and messages in the book, including the scenes my group and I shared shared for our podcast. The first scene sets off all the events in the book. It’s when Ayesha (as Hafsa) and Khalid first meet at the council meeting. Scene two is when Sheila tries to sabotage Khalid’s career but instead screws herself over. It’s a great moment where Khalid is pushed out of his comfort zone and Sheila gets what she deserves. The third scene is when Khalid visits Ayesha’s house and her grandmother teaches him how to cook. They bond and fall even further in love. Scene four is the when Farzana manipulates Khalid into thinking he’s marrying the girl of his dreams, all because of the misunderstanding Hafsa and and Ayesha created. In the final scene we chose to reflect on, Hafsa runs away after Khalid breaks off their engagement, planning to elope with Tarek (the conference organizer), but he breaks her heart.

This book is set in modern day Canada, in a community of mainly South Asian Muslims. An interview of three Canadian Muslim women by Canadian Living revealed one woman’s observation that people often overlook that veiled Muslims can come from Africa and not just South Asia or the Middle East. Another woman shared her experience of when she moved to Canada and was appalled that a bill which would prohibit religious symbols at work was being discussed in Quebec. This actually closely relates to a point in the book where Khalid is discriminated against by Sheila for his religion. The last woman’s belief may not be clear at first sight, but it is deeply rooted, so when she heard news about a shooting at a mosque in Quebec, she was heartbroken to think about all the families it tore apart.

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One of the women interviewed by Canadian Living.

Lastly, there is a surprisingly (at least for me) amount of Muslims living in Canada – over one million and 3.2% of Canada’s total population. The population of Muslims really started to grow in the 1960’s, when Canada adopted a new immigration policy. Now, the population is growing faster than ever. These statistics from A New Life show the significance of this community of Muslims.

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Bye!

Book Club Response 1

Hi!

I’m reading Ayesha at Last, a book about a very traditional Muslim man, Khalid, who wants a wife and a more modern Muslim woman, Ayesha, who doesn’t care about marriage. At first they hate each other, but slowly they start to fall in love. Also there’s a huge misunderstanding where Khalid thinks Ayesha is her cousin, Hafsa. It’s honestly kind of hard to read.

Khalid has known all his life that he wants his mother to pick his wife for him. He trusts her judgement and believes in arranged marriages. So, when his mother finds out about Ayesha and tricks him into believing he’s going to marry her, he gets so excited. Really, he’s now engaged to Hafsa, Ayesha’s cousin, but he doesn’t know her real name.

I’m not sure what the themes or messages of the book are. Maybe tell people the truth from the start? Or don’t blindly trust people, even if they’re family. Or maybe the message is to do these things to make your life more interesting. I guess I’ll find out as I read more of the book.

Ayesha at Last is the debut novel of author Uzma Jalaluddin. As a Canadian Muslim school teacher, she shares a lot in common with the protagonist of the story. She never saw much Muslim representation in books, so she decided to write her own book. According to an article by She Does The City, Jalaluddin adores the way Pride and Prejudice, the book Ayesha at Last was based on, was written. The wit, comedy, and warmth of Jane Austen’s storytelling brings Jalaluddin back time and time again for every adaptation of the story she can find. So naturally she decided to write her own story that was so unique and interesting as an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

The novel introduces the reader to a Muslim community which many have never experienced before. I know I’ve learned a lot about their culture just from reading the book. Clearly the author knows what she’s talking about.

I’ve never actually read Pride and Prejudice so prediction what will happen next is tough. The truth will probably reveal itself in a dramatic way, Khalid finding out with shock who Ayesha actually is. There will be fallout and drama, but eventually they’ll end up together. it is a love story, after all. that’s my prediction, but I’m sure there will be some other curveball, Something about Khalid’s sister maybe.

Overall, though I am kind of annoyed by the misunderstandings, I have enjoyed reading the book and I’m excited to finish it!

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