Review of "Mandy Marries a Muslim," short story by Aliya Anjum
Summary:Mandy 22, breaks the news to her mother that a Muslim from Pakistan has asked her to marry him. Carol, 46, is a strong Baptist woman who has raised Mandy by herself, after her husband's untimely death. She is dead against the idea of her only daughter marrying a Muzlim man. She tells Mandy to stay away from those terrorist Muzlims. Zafar's family also opposes the match, since his mother had already chosen a bride for him in Pakistan.
Mandy and Zafar met during college in her home state of Texas, where he had come to study from Pakistan. The two get married, ignoring their families protests.
When both set of parents meet for the first time, it leads to surprising discoveries for everyone.
This is the second story I have reviewed for this author. Both times I read her work I was left with a feeling that the story was unpolished and and possibly unfinished.
Anjum's clear strength as an author is presenting compelling protagonist concepts. For example, in this story we have Mandy, a Baptist, who is in love with Zafar, a Muslim. Both families are, of course, against the match due to stereotypes and misconceptions they have formed about each others' cultures. So it's kind of a modern-day Romeo and Juliet. Interesting, right?
So there's this set up that's ripe for conflict and emotional exploration but none of that really happens. Every single barrier is surpassed a little too easily which makes it feel like there's no character development even though you know that's not what the author wanted to come across. Anjum frequently throws in lines to announce large passages of time ("four months went by") and I couldn't help but feel like she missed out on some prime opportunities to play up the distress Mandy and Zafar feel over their families not getting along.
There are significant grammatical errors in the story and the redeeming factors being the potential for extremely charming characters. And what's frustrating is that a story like this is the kind that needs to be told because there's a powerful message underneath.
Reviewed by Alain Gomez