I cannot tell you how excited I was to find this book on my doorstep. I had request an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of this book from Harper Collins (Harper360YA) and was pleasantly surprised to find this package waiting on my doorstep. Can you imagine my surprise when I opened up the package and an ARC was nestled inside, along with a tote bag (which is all I wear these days) and their Young Adult 2021 catalogue— I’ve briefly flicked through and added a couple new titles to the wish list.
(As always, I assure you that being given an advanced reader’s copy will not affect my review of a book. Everything I mention in this review is my own opinion.)
The Marvelous Mirza Girls
Format: 391 pages, Paperback
Published: May 18, 2021 by Quill Tree Books
ISBN: 9780062845481 (ISBN10: 0062845489)
To cure her post–senior year slump, made worse by the loss of her aunt Sonia, Noreen is ready to follow her mom on a gap year trip to New Delhi, hoping India can lessen her grief and bring her voice back.
In the world’s most polluted city, Noreen soon meets kind, handsome Kabir, who introduces her to the wonders of this magical, complicated place. With Kabir’s help—plus Bollywood celebrities, fourteenth-century ruins, karaoke parties, and Sufi saints—Noreen begins to rediscover her joyful voice.
But when a family scandal erupts, Noreen and Kabir must face complicated questions in their own relationship: What does it mean to truly stand by someone—and what are the boundaries of love?
‘The Marvelous Mirza Girls’ tells the story of the incredible bond between a mother and daughter as they embark on an adventure of grief, love and new beginnings. We are transported to India where Noreen meets the handsome Kabir, and we watch them fall in love with Delhi and each other. Sheba Karim has this fantastic ability to immerse readers into the depth of Indian culture using words and imagery alone. I have never been to India before, but it felt like I was right there with the characters, walking side by side as they explore Delhi.
One thing I really appreciated about this book is the weaving of relevant social issues. There was one quite memorable scene where a western tourist on a yoga excursion was overheard speaking on the phone about how “inspirational” India is. This tourist was then confronted by one of the characters who then proceed to tell her how “India does not need saving”. This scene in particular plays on the idea of the “white saviour complex” where white, western tourists provide help to non-white people in a self-serving manner. These people often believe they have a responsibility to “save” those less fortunate then them. It was a relevant scene that I was glad to see addressed in this book. However, one I was not on board with how the #MeToo movement was addressed in this book. It seemed like the author wanted to convey neutrality which in itself is quite problematic considering there is no neutral ground in such a polarising issue. In addition to this, it seemed lack depth— the problem wasn’t addressed properly and was passed on as advocating for the victims (which I beg to differ). It would’ve been fine to leave it out of the book.
The romance was fun. It was a bit “insta-love” right from the beginning but I will admit I did enjoy their connection. Fair warning, there is a surprisingly graphic-ish scene that I was bit surprised to see in a Young Adult novel but I’m sure if you’re over the age of 16 you will be fine.
Overall, ‘The Marvelous Mirza Girls’ takes us along Noreen’s journey of grief and self-discovery. There’s a charming love story, an interesting relationship between mother and daughter, and a peek into India’s multicultural atmosphere. This is the kind of book you read when you want a book to transport you somewhere unexpected, but right.
P.s This book makes me want to book a plane ticket to somewhere and just live.
Thank you to Harper360YA for providing me with an Advanced Reader’s copy (ARC) of ‘The Marvelous Mirza Girls’ by Sheeba Karim in exchange for an honest review!
Have you read ‘The Marvelous Mirza Girls’ by Sheeba Karim? Let me know in the comments below!
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