The Marriage Clock by Zara Raheem is a perfect light and get-your-mind-distracted read to help you get ready for summer and for wedding season(or to just take a break from life). Even though summer is over, I still found this book to be a delightfully fresh debut from a new author.
The Marriage Clock is Raheem’s discussion of traditional vs. modern marriage customs in Indian families told as one woman’s struggle to keep everyone in her life happy. 26-year-old Leila Abid has always imagined getting married. Her parents want her to get married too and the fact that Leila isn’t married yet is something that they find very concerning. You see, as an East Indian/East Euro-Asian woman, Leila’s parents believe that marriage is half of their religious duty. Arranged marriages happen all the time, but growing up in America, Leila has slightly more give in terms of how early she was married.
At her 26th birthday party, Leila’s parents sit her down and tell her that she has three months to find a husband before they will arrange a marriage for her. Shocked and not happy with this news, Leila agrees as long as her mother backs off from the set-ups. Leila goes on blind dates, online dates, speed dates, ambush dates, and other dates in those three months, but sadly no great love comes to sweep her off her feet.
Leila has great expectations for love. She has always imagined a Bollywood romance with seven pages of what she’s expecting from her future husband. One of her biggest requests: she wants real love before she’s married. This deviates from the norm as with most traditional Indian arranged marriages, love does not happen until after marriage. Leila knows she doesn’t want that.
As her three month deadline looms closer, Leila finds herself wondering what her parents have in store for her. The longer she searches for a husband, the more Leila realizes that an arranged marriage is not for her. But if she doesn’t go through with one, how will her parents ever forgive her? Leila must find a solution that will keep her parents happy and will let her find a man to fall in love with.
What Was I Thinking?: 58 Bad Boyfriend Stories was edited by Barbara Davilman and Liz Dubelman as a way for people to talk about the point in their relationship where they realized that their dealings with that person were doomed and over. Sometimes the relationship may not actually end for weeks or even years later, but there is usually that one defining moment where it suddenly hits you that you don’t like that person as much as you thought you did. Out of the hundreds of submissions that Davilman and Dubelman received, they were only able to pick out 58 to put together into this collection.
As I was reading this book, I came across many themes: 1) sometimes the reasons for our break-ups may seem like nothing at all to other people(he plucked his uni-brow, I dyed my hair, he didn’t like to read), but they can be deal-breakers to the person who ultimately calls it quits, 2) that A-HA relationship-ending moment may not be so obvious to us right when it happens, but in hindsight, we definitely recognize that moment as the “start of impending doom”, 3) that blast of clarity when we know that the relationship was over was sometimes more vivid and easier to remember than the entire relationship itself, and 4) no matter how many times our friends tell us our significant other may be just a little too weird, we will not actually break-up with that person ourselves until we burst out of the happiness bubble and honeymoon phase of the new relationship and see the person for who they really are.
Check out this book to commiserate with these women about the moments when they knew their relationships were just over and it became clear that that relationship was not going to work out. Be prepared to look back out your own relationships as you read this book because the women sharing their personal stories are not afraid to dig deep into their pasts to talk about their moments of clarity, no matter how foggy those moments have been right in the midst of the happiness.
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby starts off with the first of many top five lists. Rob Fleming, the owner of a vintage record shop in London, has just been dumped by his longtime girlfriend Laura and is assuring himself that it will be okay because he’s been through at least five breakups in the past that were more earth-shattering than this one. This leads to a sort of odyssey as Rob decides to track down these five women and figure out what exactly went wrong and what the meaning of it all is. Along the way he finds a new friend (and maybe a bit more) in a sexy American singer, deals with his financially-struggling business, and generally spends a lot of time joking around with his friends in the record shop.
Hornby is great at writing about people who are passionate about music. I’ve read two of his other books, About A Boy and Juliet Naked, and in each you can really feel how much music means to the characters, and it makes you care a little more about music as well. There is a lot of witty banter between the guys in the record shop, and Rob has a very sarcastic sense of humor, so it’s definitely good for a laugh even if it has a lot of serious moments as well. I found myself becoming very frustrated with Rob while reading this book because as he meets each ex-girlfriend to figure out why they broke up, it becomes increasingly appalling that he just doesn’t get it. Nevertheless, you’ll be rooting for something to go right for him in the end. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, and I’m planning to take home the movie starring John Cusack tonight!