THE MARRIAGE CLOCK by Zara Raheem

In Zara Raheem’s fresh, funny, smart debut, a young, Muslim-American woman is given three months to find the right husband or else her traditional Indian parents will find one for her–a novel with a universal story that everyone can relate to about the challenges of falling in love.

To Leila Abid’s traditional Indian parents, finding a husband in their South Asian-Muslim American community is as easy as match, meet, marry. But for Leila, a marriage of arrangement clashes with her lifelong dreams of a Bollywood romance which has her convinced that real love happens before marriage, not the other way around.

Finding the right husband was always part of her life-plan, but after 26 years of singledom, even Leila is starting to get nervous. And to make matters worse, her parents are panicking, the neighbors are talking, and she’s wondering, are her expectations just too high? So Leila decides it’s time to stop dreaming and start dating.

She makes a deal with her parents: they’ll give her three months, until their 30th wedding anniversary, to find a husband on her own terms. But if she fails, they’ll take over and arrange her marriage for her.

With the stakes set, Leila succumbs to the impossible mission of satisfying her parents’ expectations, while also fulfilling her own western ideals of love. But after a series of speed dates, blind dates, online dates and even ambush dates, the sparks just don’t fly! And now, with the marriage clock ticking, and her 3-month deadline looming in the horizon, Leila must face the consequences of what might happen if she doesn’t find “the one…”


Title :  The Marriage Clock
Author :  Zara Raheem
Format : eARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : William Morrow
Release Date : July 23, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


THE MARRIAGE CLOCK is a witty insight into the pressure for marriage to take place on parents’ timescale for an American, South Asian, Muslim woman. Leila was a free-spirited protagonist with a desire not to hurt her parents but also with a strong feminist streak. She was also a big Bollywood fan and this fandom had influenced how she imagined her falling in love to play out.

“He’s a nice guy, but we just didn’t connect,” I said.
“Connect? What is this, a Wi-Fi signal?” My mother glared at me.

What ensued was a series of cringe-worthy, parent-chosen potential spouses. What was even more hilarious was Leila’s attempt to go solo on this husband-finding project and I laughed many times at her attempts. The speed dating scene was particularly hilarious.

“This was definitely not how I pictured my Indian fairy tale panning out. I had imagined me + Shah Rukj Kahn + villa in the mountains + romantic song + dancing penguins. Instead, I got guy with too much gel + weirded-out looks + tone-deaf singer + lifeteime ban from ever stepping foot into this bistro again.”

The parent nightmare was pressurising and real. I couldn’t imagine having to conform and losing my choice in that way and in reality, this was Leila’s biggest difficulty. She was working as a teacher, she’d lived away from home previously and she sought autonomy, empowerment and freedom. So whilst this was a humourous tale, there was a constant streak of poignancy in Leila’s situation that just got me in the gut. At least she had some great friends around her.

The story went from the US to India and back. There were some short but unexpected heart breaks along the way and they really did have a kick. The story completed in a way that stung my romantic heart but made my feminist heart soar, so I can’t be unhappy about that.

This is a debut by Zara Raheem and she wrote engagingly and with wit. I will definitely be searching out any future releases she has; I would say she’s one to watch.

Thank you to William Morrow and Edelweiss for this review copy.

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