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Safar 1441 / October 2019's Book Club Pick — Unlikely Friends by Sahar Abdulaziz

Peace and Blessings everyone!

Welcome to this month's book club discussion about Unlikely Friends by Sahar Abdulaziz. On the discussion panel, we have Author Melanie.S and Book Blogger and Reviewer Lydia. H. And I'm Papatia Feauxzar, your host and moderator as usual.

Book Summary : Irwin is not only the local Librarian; he’s also a book snob and an all-around grouch. There’s nothing he values more than his privacy. As a loner, he’s happy to be surrounded by books instead of subjected to the incessant blathering of dysfunctional people. The one thing Irwin despises more than people is change. He’s content in his predictable, routine existence…until a young girl barrels her way into his dreary life and turns it upside down. Harper is witty, smart, free-spirited—but most of all, stubborn. Baffled by her need to gain his friendship, Irwin does his best to brush her off, but Harper refuses to budge. In fact, it only makes her latch onto him even more. Friendship, after all, can be found in the most unusual places. Read our brief review here.

1. What did you like most?

LH : Honestly, I liked the characters. I loved how they were easy to relate to and understand. Plus, I loved how they were very realistic. They’re the kind of characters that stay with a reader long after their book has been read.

MS : I liked the relationship between Irwin and Cornelia. She just didn't put up with his crap and balanced him so well.

PF : Yes! These characters are so realistic and Cornelia and Irwin were an oddly and friendly pair; totally opposite mindsets that fit together. I also really liked that Unlikely Friends is one of those books that literally heals and comforts you; especially when you're going through a rough time. And I was...

2. Did Irwin or anything in the book often give you pause?

LH : Nothing! I simply loved it.

MS : Irwin's "eew gross" dialogue gave me pause. It didn't strike me as age appropriate, and it took me a little while to get a handle on who he was.

PF : Haha! Melanie, that part actually made me laugh because a mini sassy version of the character who said it flashed in my mind. Like I said, these things are often polarized but I can see your point Melanie.

In my case, I am with Lydia. Unlikely Friends was one of those rare books I had no complaints about because I also loved the characters and the realness of their struggles. It's a true story set in a fictional world. You will find many Harpers in real life. You will find many Irwins and Cornelias in real life. You will also find many people in your daily life who it have hard and harder like all the other characters in the books.

3. What didn't you like about the book or the characters?

LH : Nothing! I would love to get another book though, LOL!

MS : I hate to say it, but I didn't like the Gilly Storyline. I felt like it was put in for emotional drama. I totally understand how someone else would disagree and maybe enjoy this portion the best ... But like when he talked to her graveside and all, I felt like I was being forced to feel something.

PF : Well, Lydia, I'm a sucker for Abdulaziz's works, so I completely understand you. Melanie, I'm glad that you're confirming my previous comment about polarization by saying that while Gilly's storyline is not your cup of tea, it might be somebody's else cup of tea.

I actually reached out to the author after I read the book and wondered if she was a bit ascetic. I actually didn't tell her why I asked this question because of this part actually. Since, I pay more attention to the "unseen," I believe it weirds people out when I explain, I kept quiet on the reasoning behind the question for that reason.

Now, since you brought it up, Harper's Mom, Olivia, actually funnily surprised me toward the end of the book with her response to the customer looking for posthumous books. She has claws! Rofl! And you have to expect that with people who work retail. But, I was still shocked. Sometimes, the kind of reaction she had is for self-preservation and sometimes, you straight up get fired!

4. What are your other thoughts?

MS : Overall, the story was uplifting -- so good to see characters who seem too different to interact become friends. People aren't always the way they seem, and it would be lovely to see such acceptance -- such non-judgement -- in real life.

LH : This book needs to be turned into a movie. It would be perfect for the Hallmark Channel or the Lifetime Movie Network.

PF : I agree with both of you! I felt awesome and healed somewhat after reading Unlikely Friends, alhamdullilah.

5. What question (s) do you have for the author?

LH : I saw on Facebook that you’d written a follow-up. I’m so excited!!! Any updates on that?

MS : Do you enjoy writing with a lighter tone (like this book), or do you prefer the darker/more serious?

6. Do you think Darren can be trusted?

MS : From personal experience, sometimes people seem like they're going to change, but they generally stay the same. I don't trust him right now, but he's at least showing promise. I'd give him a guarded chance.

LH : I think he has redeemable qualities. At first, I did not trust him at all and thought he would only stir things up and cause issues. As the story went on, I realized he was just trying to find his way again. He maybe didn’t go about it the “right way” but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy. He’s made mistakes, yes, but everyone deserves a second chance.

PF : After talking to the author about it, I think Darren can be trusted again. I personally think he adapts rather quickly! Cornelia picked a good name for him, haha! And, it's wrap! Thanks guys for answering our questions and thank you readers for tuning in for another episode of this book club saga! Lots of love to y'all <3!

Rabi-I 1441 AH / November 2019's Book Club Pick will be A RECAP POST!

This is your chance to send in answers about past books we've discussed.

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.



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). Aaameen.


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