This post is part of a blog tour organised by Random Things Blog Tours. I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.
‘Multan, Pakistan. A conservative city where an unmarried woman over the age of twenty-five is considered a curse by her family.
‘Ayesha is twenty-seven. Independent and happily single, she has evaded an arranged marriage because of her family’s reduced circumstances.
‘When she catches the eye of powerful, wealthy Raza, it seems like the answer to her parents’ prayers. But Ayesha is in love with someone else, and when she refuses to give up on him, Raza resorts to unthinkable revenge…
‘Ayesha travels to London to rebuild her life and there she meets Kamil, an emotionally damaged man who has demons of his own.
‘They embark on a friendship that could mean salvation for both of them, but danger stalks Ayesha in London, too. With her life thrown into turmoil, she is forced to make a decision that could change her and everyone she loves forever.’
In Someone Like Her, by Awais Khan, 27-year-old Pakistani accountant Ayesha Safdar Khakwani is in a secret relationship with old schoolfriend Saqib when she meets local playboy Raza Masood.
Raza is from one of Multan’s richest and most influential families, and used to getting whatever he wants, so he doesn’t like it when Ayesha rejects his advances.
It’s not just that she’d rather be with Saqib – Raza has an odious personality and Ayesha would have a restricted, miserable life as his wife.
When Raza reaches boiling point and commits a horrible crime against Ayesha, she has no chance of getting justice, due to victim-blaming and corruption – and it’s obvious he’s not finished with her yet.
She therefore flees to London, where she stays with her mum’s friend Jamila and becomes friends with Jamila’s kind, sensitive son Kamil, who has a traumatic past of his own.
But Raza has eyes everywhere, and it’s not long before he tracks Ayesha down for a second round of horror she might not survive…
Someone Like Her certainly puts you through the emotional wringer! I immediately warmed to strong-minded, independent Ayesha, so I felt a great deal of sympathy for her throughout the book.
Not only does she have to deal with the frustration caused by Raza refusing to take no for an answer, but she’s also trying to fight the traditional values impressed upon her by her family (including her mum’s nasty sister, Neelam) and Pakistan’s patriarchal society at large.
These tensions are also evident in what Ayesha’s parents say and do. You can see that they love her and want her to be happy, and are ultimately on her side. However, at the same time, they’re also subject to social pressures, and have imbibed the conservative attitudes that Ayesha rejects.
And that’s to say nothing of the shocking, heinous things Raza does to Ayesha, or how people speak to and treat her following the first incident.
The author does a good job of making it clear how impossible Ayesha’s situation becomes: Raza and his family are so powerful, they can ruin Ayesha’s parents financially or even have them killed, and they have the police in their pockets. It’s very much not just a case of continuing to refuse Raza until he gets the message.
But there are moments of joy, too. It’s heart-warming to see Ayesha find purpose and friendship in London, with the relationship that builds up between her and Kamil – a really sweet, considerate guy – being particularly lovely and realistic.
I loved the interactions between Jamila and her British-born children (Kamil has a sister, Sharmeela), who are often lovingly exasperated with her, as well as the perennial, trans-national joke that Neelam’s husband was once a roadside shoe-shiner (Neelam is always quick to clarify that he actually owned a shoe polish factory on the Bosan Road).
I found this book a very quick read, as events move fast. While this frenetic pace makes it highly compulsive, it does sometimes come at the expense of depth and character development.
For example, I’d have liked to have seen more about the effects of trauma (both in terms of immediate response to threatening situations, and long-term effects) on Ayesha and Kamil, as well as perhaps some of the people in Kamil’s support group.
This could also have enabled the details of Kamil’s experience to emerge more organically through disjointed thoughts and behaviour, rather than as a well-organised and cohesive story he tells in one sitting.
Someone Like Her is compulsive, fast-paced and emotive.