Rabi-II 1442 Book Club Recap
Updated: Nov 22, 2020
Bismillahi ar-rahmani ar-rahim
Assalamu aleikum waramatulahi wabarakatuhu everyone!
Welcome to this month's book club edition. We have many books on the roster today alhamdullilah. So, grab your snacks and let's get started!
The Rooster Bar
Summary: Mark, Todd, and Zola came to law school to change the world, to make it a better place. But now, as third-year students, these close friends realize they have been duped. They all borrowed heavily to attend a third-tier for-profit law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specializing in student loans, the three know they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam.
But maybe there’s a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they would first have to quit school. And leaving law school a few short months before graduation would be completely crazy, right? Well, yes and no . . .
Review: This novel was absolutely an eye-opener. Zola is a Senegalese-American while her friends are White Americans. Her family is illegal. On top of that, her classmates and her are heavily indebted with school loans causing mental health tragedies and this is where the book starts.
Grisham has always been a favorite. And this book didn't disappoint.
In all, the thriller was mischievous, touched on immigration, on diploma mills and mental health just to name a few. We guessed the end, and that was the best part. Why? Because it was simply genuis.
The Royal We - Book I & II
American Bex Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister Lacey was always the romantic, the one who daydreamed of being a princess. But it's adventure-seeking Bex who goes to Oxford and meets dreamy Nick across the hall - and Bex who finds herself accidentally in love with the heir to the British throne.
Nick is wonderful, but he comes with unimaginable baggage: a complicated family, hysterical tabloids tracking his every move, and a public that expected its future king to marry a Brit. On the eve of the most talked-about wedding of the century, Bex looks back on how much she's had to give up for true love... and exactly whose heart she may yet have to break...
Thoughts: This book is reminiscent of the current British royals. The authors imagine a monarchy if a different branch of the current British era had the crown.
An Orchestra of Minorities
Summary: ...Bonded by this night on the bridge, Chinonso and Ndali fall in love. But Ndali is from a wealthy family and struggles to imagine a future near a chicken coop. When her family objects to the union because he is uneducated, Chinonso sells most of his possessions to attend a college in Cyprus. But when he arrives he discovers there is no place at the school for him, and that he has been utterly duped by the young Nigerian who has made the arrangements... Penniless, homeless, and furious at a world which continues to relegate him to the sidelines, Chinonso gets further away from his dream, from Ndali and the farm he called home...
Review: The book touched on the struggles of Black students in Eastern Europe; Turkey and Greece to be exact. It also touched on Nigerian scams, domestic violence, and the unseen. Overall, it has many great African proverbs.
Girl, Woman, Other
Summary: ...The twelve central characters of this multi-voiced novel lead vastly different lives: Amma is a newly acclaimed playwright whose work often explores her Black lesbian identity; her old friend Shirley is a teacher, jaded after decades of work in London’s funding-deprived schools; Carole, one of Shirley’s former students, is a successful investment banker; Carole’s mother Bummi works as a cleaner and worries about her daughter’s lack of rootedness despite her obvious achievements. From a nonbinary social media influencer to a 93-year-old woman living on a farm in Northern England, these unforgettable characters also intersect in shared aspects of their identities, from age to race to sexuality to class...
Review: The book was both amazing and frustrating. The only Muslim in the book tells her friends that hijab is cultural and not a faith order. That's not true. But that's the thing, many people in the ummah believe that just because we have free will, hijab is not an order from Allah.
Anyway, the book was witty and depicted the plurality of Black minds. We don't all agree. If we could rename this book, it would be titled "Heads of the Colored People."
Book 2 of The Abernathy & Crane Series takes us on a mystery crime spun an unusual and fun way. The reader quickly finds out the suspects but how do our Devoted Friends connect the dots to restore order? That's the question.
Now, while the book is fun, it also shares the hard reality of people living with Alzheimer's disease. We really liked this book for the little dose of drama, romance and thrill sprinkled here and there.
The Jealous — Book Two in the Sufi Mysteries Series
Baghdad 295 hijri/907 CE
A woman’s howl of pain echoed through the courtyard. “She’s killed him!” Her husband’s face was twisted with terror, staring at something that was not there, looking at the space just over his chest, grasping at his left arm as if to wrest some unseen force away. Saliha gasped, “A jinn! God protect us from evil things!”
When a distinguished scholar dies at the Barmakid hospital in Baghdad, nearly everyone points the finger at his slave Mu’mina, as the one who called a demon to kill him. Tein, a former frontier fighter turned investigator with the Grave Crimes Section, has no time for religion, let alone jinn, and sets out to prove her innocent. But Ammar, Tein’s superior and old wartime friend, has already pushed her case before the Police Chief’s court where she’s sure to be executed or condemned to rot in the prisons built into the damp walls of Baghdad’s Round City.
With the help of his twin sister, Zaytuna, his childhood friend, Mustafa, and Zaytuna’s friend, the untamable Saliha, Tein plunges into a dangerous investigation that takes them into the world of talisman-makers and seers, houses of prostitution and gambling, and the fractious secular and religious court systems, all in an effort to turn back the tragic circumstances set in motion by Ammar’s destructive fear of a girl horribly wronged.
Review: We appreciated the mysticism surrounding the Turkwomen. Moreover, one thing this book does well is the non-judgmental stand of the narrator when a character misbehaves. The narrator tells you what's happening and the reader draws the conclusions. Is the character blamable or not? Or should you just lower your gaze? That was brilliant.
The Vanishing Half
Summary: The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect?
Review: The Vignes twin sisters are light-skinned and they live in a small town in Louisinia where everybody is light-skin. They are not white to the White man's standard, and they are not totally negros to many Black people's standards either. That said, many can pass as white to onlookers that are Blacks and White alike because they are very fair skin.
We already know that we are all from Adam and Eve and books like these just remind us that we are all related regardless of the color of our skin even if the first humans are not expounded upon in the book.
The Matchmaker's List
Summary: Raina Anand may have finally given in to family pressure and agreed to let her grandmother play matchmaker, but that doesn't mean she has to like it--or that she has to play by the rules. Nani always took Raina's side when she tried to push past the traditional expectations of their tight-knit Indian-immigrant community, but now she's ambushing Raina with a list of suitable bachelors. Is it too much to ask for a little space? Besides, what Nani doesn't know won't hurt her...
As Raina's life spirals into a parade of Nani-approved bachelors and disastrous blind dates, she must find a way out of this modern-day arranged-marriage trap without shattering her beloved grandmother's dreams.
Thoughts: Many parts of the book can be relatable to almost any immigrant. That's great.
That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story
Summary: Chaperones, suitors, and arranged marriages aren't only reserved for the heroines of a Jane Austen novel. They're just another walk in the park for this leading lady, who is on a mission to find her leading lad. From the brilliant comics Yes, I'm Hot in This, Huda Fahmy tells the hilarious story of how she met and married her husband. Navigating mismatched suitors, gossiping aunties, and societal expectations for Muslim women...
Summary: Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion . . . she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.
Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo.
Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is . . . Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be.
Review: Olive's Spanish family often calls her Acetuna which is the same as Zaytuna. This is a trivial detail that only book nerds appreciate. So, we have two protagonists with the same name in this recap; one in The Jealous by Laury Silvers and one in this book.
The Seaside Café (The Book Club 1)
Summary: For three decades, the Seaside Café has served delicious meals to locals and island tourists alike. Kayana Johnson has moved home to help her brother run the café—and to nurse her wounds following a deep betrayal. Between cooking favorite recipes—creole chicken with buttermilk waffles, her grandmother’s famous mac and cheese—and spending time reading, Kayana is trying to embrace a life free of entanglements, while staying open to new connections . . .
After striking up conversation with two customers, Kayana suggests a summer book club. Each week, they’ll meet on the patio to talk about their favorite novels. But there are plot twists awaiting them in real life too. For schoolteacher Leah, this two-month sojourn is the first taste of freedom she’s had in her unhappy marriage. Cherie, filled with regret about her long-term affair with a married politician, discovers a powerful new passion. And Kayana finds a kindred spirit in a reclusive visitor who’s ready to make his true identity known, and fill this summer with new possibilities . . .
Thoughts: Romantic and no-nonsensical.
American Like Me
Summary: ...Now, in American Like Me, America invites 31 of her friends, peers, and heroes to share their stories about life between cultures. We know them as actors, comedians, athletes, politicians, artists, and writers. However, they are also immigrants, children or grandchildren of immigrants, indigenous people, or people who otherwise grew up with deep and personal connections to more than one culture. Each of them struggled to establish a sense of self, find belonging, and feel seen. And they call themselves American enthusiastically, reluctantly, or not at all.
Ranging from the heartfelt to the hilarious, their stories shine a light on a quintessentially American experience and will appeal to anyone with a complicated relationship to family, culture, and growing up...
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl
Summary: ...Being an introvert in a world that glorifies cool isn't easy. But when Issa Rae, the creator of the Shorty Award-winning hit series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, is that introvert--whether she's navigating love, work, friendships, or rapping-- it sure is entertaining. Now, in this debut collection of essays written in her witty and self-deprecating voice, Rae covers everything from cybersexing in the early days of the Internet to deflecting unsolicited comments on weight gain, from navigating the perils of eating out alone and public displays of affection to learning to accept yourself --natural hair and all ...
Review: Issa is funny but she can be so frustrating. Her father is a Senegalese Doctor and her mother is African-American French Teacher. Through her tales we see that she gets a lot of her behavior from her heritage. Overall, it's a quirky tale.
Thank you for tuning in and reading. Dear Readers & Members, see you in
Jumada-I 1442 AH insha'Allah.
Our Usual Book Club Questions Are:
1. What did you like most?
2. What gave you pause?
3. What didn't you like?
4. What are your other thoughts?
5. What question (s) do you have for the author(s)?
6. What questions about the book(s) do you have for the moderator or other members of the discussion(s)?
We look forward to hearing from you.
G E T I N T O U C H !
Books, Teas & Coffees
Until next time, subhanaka Allahumma wa-bihamdika ash-hadu anla ilaha illa anta as-taghfiruka wa atoobu ilayka. (O Allah, You are free from every imperfection; praise be to You. I testify that there is no true god except You; I ask Your Pardon and turn to You in repentance.) Aameen.
The Fofky's Book Club