Review by Karen
Author: Sabina Khan
The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan is a moving story about a young lesbian girl who lives in a very traditional Muslim family. One day her mother catches her kissing her girlfriend and Rukhsana’s life changes forever. The only people in her family who accept her for who she is are her cousin, her brother, and her grandmother, who she turns to for guidance along the way. I loved this book for many reasons, but the largest one is it features a lesbian protagonist and reflects the journey of coming out. Battling with wanting to be yourself around the people you love, but being afraid to tell anyone because you don’t know what they’ll say, or if their opinions of you will change. In pop culture lesbians are portrayed very stereo-typically, if at all. This book did not stereotype any of their LGBTQ+ characters in any way, and I found that very special.
The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali also portrays Rukhsana’s conflict of identity. As a Muslim woman she loves her culture and wants to be completely immersed, but she grew up in America and also feels that the American culture is part of her identity. She struggles to bridge the gap between the two pieces of her life. She wants her family to understand and accept her as a lesbian, and she wants her friends to understand how strict her family and her culture is.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community will be able to connect with Rukhsana and her dilemma of coming out, and her frustration of having to hide her identity around family and in public for fear of being judged. I absolutely loved going on this journey with Rukhsana and I learned a lot about Muslim culture in the process. Khan is able to beautifully depict the many Muslim ceremonies Rukhsana attends, and her writing will make you fall in love with her characters and their stories.
There is a quote on the cover of the book by Sandhya Menon that says “This book will break your heart and piece it back together again”. That quote depicts the book beautifully. I went from smiling to crying to laughing at the end. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone! I’d say it’s targeted more towards females and members of the LGBTQ+ community, but I think everyone should read this book!
Buy it here: https://www.bookpeople.com/book/9781338227017