Good Intentions

Holt. Mar. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9781250809605. $26.99. F
DEBUT New Year’s Eve 2018: Nur is back home in Birmingham to celebrate the holidays with his Pakistani family and to tell them about the Black Sudanese girlfriend he has kept secret from them for four years. Nur first met Yasmina at a party hosted by his ex-girlfriend when both were in university—he studying English literature and aspiring to become a writer, she taking journalism. Over the next four years, they move in together in Nottingham for Yasmina’s PhD. But tensions mount as Yasmina is open with her family about their relationship while Nur keeps her a secret from his. After disappointing his parents by leaving home for university, he anticipates a greater clash with his family’s values over his choice of girlfriend.
VERDICT There is something of a Sally Rooney vibe to this story about twentysomethings navigating adult waters (the snappy dialogue, the conflicted emotions, the relationship dramas), but Ali’s novel veers off on a darker course as questions of race and culture threaten to undermine a once solid love. This timely, savvy novel is recommended.
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