Everyone has a place they call home. But who gets to decide where you belong?
For years Bilal Hasham and his wife Mariam have lived contented, quiet lives in the sleepy rural village of Babbel’s End. Now all that is about to change.
On her deathbed, Bilal’s mother reaches for his hand. Instead of whispering her final prayers, she gives him a task: build a mosque in his country village. Mariam is horrified by Bilal’s plan. His friends and neighbours are unnerved. As outrage sweeps Babbel’s End, battle lines are drawn. His mother’s dying wish reveals deeper divisions in their village than Bilal had ever imagined. Soon Bilal is forced to choose between community and identity, between faith and friendship, between honouring his beloved mother’s last wish and preserving what is held dear in the place that he calls home.
This is the story of Bilal, who mothers dying wish was for him to build a mosque. A once central and included member of the community, Bilal becomes ostrisized and the target or hate crimes by people he thought were his friends. Spurred on by his wife he becomes more determined to for-fill his mothers dream despite the negativity from the community.
This is a great story of a community that on the surface appears inclusive but actually only wants to be inclusive if it works out in the direction they have planned. This is a very clever story and once I wish didn’t ring true but after all I have seen this year I fear is truer than ever and it makes me so angry.
I did feel the first half was a little slow as it set the scene but Malik really knows how to write to get you emotionally invested so be prepared!
My favourite character was definitely Rukhsana, she warmed my heart throughout and I just wanted to give her a great big cuddle! I loved that the most unlikely of characters brought them all together.
Thank you to Compulsive Reads Blog Tours and Zaffre Books for my #gifted copy in exchange for review.
Ayisha Malik is a writer and editor, living in South London. She holds a BA in English Literature and a First Class MA in Creative Writing. Her novels Sofia Khan is Not Obliged and The Other Half of Happiness, starring ‘the Muslim Bridget Jones’, were met with great critical acclaim, and Sofia Khan is Not Obliged was chosen as 2019’s Cityread book. Ayisha was a WHSmith Fresh Talent Pick, shortlisted for the Asian Women of Achievement Award and Marie Claire’s Future Shapers Awards. Ayisha is also the ghost writer for The Great British Bake Off winner, Nadiya Hussain.