(How gorgeous is that cover!?)
Mysteries are my comfort reads, but the genre tends to be super white at first and often at second glance, too, so I’m always on the lookout for diverse mysteries. I was thrilled that I was given the opportunity to read God Smites, starring a Muslim teen girl detective and let me tell you, I know I’ll reread it often. Also, so happy to hear that there will be a sequel called Mutaweenies and Other Muslim Girl Problems!
In her debut novel, Ishara Deen introduces us to Asiya Haque, a Bengali-Canadian teen who tries juggling high-school, interning, crushes and family. Oh, and a murder mystery. God Smites opens with Asiya’s mother warning her daughter about boys, and Asiya’s internal monologue where she considers her religion and what she owes her mother is hilarious and sweet. Probably most people with Muslim, or even other religious, family will find these situations familiar ones. I also loved her loyal father and I have a cheeky but supportive younger brother myself. And Asiya’s best friend is such a great character who we’ll hopefully meet again, and I’m sure the gossiping aunties will return as well. It was so wonderful to read of close family ties and see complex, positive Muslim representation. Asiya is a fantastic and extremely likable protagonist, and I really appreciated the way she strove to be independent but in a way that spoke of respect and love for her family.
While out walking with her crush Michael, they stumble over a dead body and Asiya finds herself in the middle of the investigation. And just how is Michael involved in all of this? I’ve read a lot of mysteries and this one is so much more, but I really enjoyed guessing whodunnit and kinda-but-not figured it out. That cliffhanger though! I may be a mystery fan, but I feel confident in recommending God Smites to people who not usually go for mysteries. Still, this book gets a prime spot on my growing #DiverseDetectives shelf!
What I love is how Deen manages to make this a cozy crime, a coming-of-age story with a hilarious protagonist and also a book of social commentary on Islamophobia. That’s not an easy feat. I can only hope book like this will reach a wider audience, there’s so much unpacking of stereotypes and fears to do. But most of all, I hope Muslim teens will find Asiya. So make sure to review, buy and request God Smites at your library!
Disclaimer: I received a free e-copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.