Oh Faiza! What a tangled web you got yourself stuck in. She seems like a typical yummy mummy but it’s been a struggle for her to fit in with her friends (well, if you can call most of them that). She’s just about cracked it but then her husband, Tom, loses his job in the city and all of a sudden they’re reliant on the emergency fund, the one that Faiza has been dipping into for years. The account is empty! It was a hand over the mouth moment for me when I read how she had frittered away £75,000.

Rather than confess all, Faiza tries her damnedest to replace the money but at every turn she seems to face setback after setback. It’s a pretty horrendous situation and I kept wondering what I would have said and done if I was her. I have no idea, by the way!

I thought this was a brilliantly addictive read. There were so many of those shocking moments when I felt like shouting out “no Faiza, don’t do it”. I loved all the scenarios the author created for her and whilst this is a relatively light book in many ways, there are also some serious issues of race, judgement, background and culture differences, prejudice, money worries and harassment at play.

I was punching the air every time I thought Faiza was going to get back on her feet and disappointed for her when things went wrong. For a debut novel this is one accomplished piece of writing. I really cared about Faiza and her family and wanted everything to work out for them. There are so many twists and turns in the story, so many ups and downs, and I just loved reading them. I thought the author plotted it all brilliantly, keeping the momentum going constantly and keeping me completely hooked. It’s a fantastic novel and I’m really excited to see what Aliya Ali-Afzal does next.

Review by Nicola Smith, Short Book and Scribes

Published by Head of Zeus (8 July 2021)
Hardback, ISBN 978-1800245662