Book Review: The Mis-Arrangement of Sana Saeed by Noreen Mughees

The Blurb:

Thirty-three-year-old hijabi Sana Saeed has put away her childhood dream of ishq—an all-consuming, sweeping love. The arranged dates she’s agreed to have failed time after time, and she has responsibilities to consider—namely her sweet, autistic younger brother, Zia. Sana and Zia are a package deal, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. But their traditional mother won’t allow Sana to be named as his future guardian… unless she’s married.

When Daniel Malik walks into Sana’s office at the Department of Environmental Conservation, she’s astonished—their childhood friendship has been a cherished memory ever since a feud between their families put an end to it eighteen years ago. But there’s no chance of them becoming close again; Daniel may be as hot as a Bollywood heartthrob, but not only is he Sana’s new boss, her mother would disown her if she ever brought him home.

With the clock ticking, Sana agrees to a marriage arranged by her family. She’s seen plenty of arranged marriages grow into love; maybe that will happen for her too. But when a high-stakes case at work forces Sana and Daniel to team up, they find themselves less able—and willing—to play their parts of “good desi children.”

Now Sana must make a choice: family and security, or the one man who claimed her heart long ago…

My Rating: ★★★

My Review:

This story had so much promise and I was so excited to receive this ARC, pushing aside other books for this one as soon as I downloaded it. So it’s with a bit of sadness that I say I really struggled reading it.

I had so much difficulty following along as the author switched from English to Urdu and back again repeatedly throughout the novel. I found the names of the multitude of characters so confusing being that they were all so similar,. Then there were all the Urdu ‘pet’ names as well – I felt I needed a cheat sheet to just to keep on track.

The story line also gave me no small amount of trouble. Often reading like a Bollywood drama, the story seemed over the top with arranged marriages, familial pressure, family feuding and friendships that didn’t seem like friendships but more like competitions. The story chopped and changed directions multiple times with many gaps in dialogue and character development, making it hard to connect with any of the characters. It often felt like the author had the idea in her head and thought she’d put it down on paper but hadn’t, with big chunks missing. Like when you read a text message and reply in your head but don’t actually reply…I felt like I was missing important aspects of the story. This was particularly true when it came to the main characters, Sana and Daniel’s emotional states – there was no clear movement from emotion to another, leaving me flicking through the pages searching for what I had missed.

More like a 2.5 star read, I’ve bumped it up to a three because it had/has so much potential. If this were my novel, I would have a bit of a re-edit, looking at the little stuff that doesn’t support the much larger story and building the connections that have been lost along the way.

With thanks to the publisher via NetGalley for this advanced copy in return for an honest review.

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