Rummanah Aasi
Description: When Huda meets Hadi, the boy she will ultimately marry, she is six years old. Both are the American-born children of Iraqi immigrants, who grew up on opposite ends of California.

Hadi considers Huda his childhood sweetheart, the first and only girl he's ever loved, but Huda needs proof that she is more than just the girl Hadi's mother has chosen for her son. She wants what the American girls have--the entertainment culture's almost singular tale of chance meetings, defying the odds, and falling in love. She wants stolen kisses, romantic dates, and a surprise proposal. As long as she has a grand love story, Huda believes no one will question if her marriage has been arranged.

But when Huda and Hadi's conservative Muslim families forbid them to go out alone before their wedding, Huda must navigate her way through the despair of unmet expectations and dashed happily-ever-after ideals. Eventually she comes to understand the toll of straddling two cultures in a marriage and the importance of reconciling what you dreamed of with the life you eventually live.

Review: First Come Marriage is a heartfelt, engaging story about culture expectations clashing with reality. Huda Al-Marashi is a Shia Iraqi American who grew up in America and with the the romantic, impractical, Americanized belief that rings and proposals and wedding-day highs laid the foundation for a loving marriage, which she encountered time after time in television and movies. These romantic notions often collided with her conservative Islamic family values. Before marriage, Al-Marashi believed that a traditional, family-sanctioned union to a boy from her same background would lay the foundation for a happy life. Her lived experience, however, requires Al-Marashi to unlearn both of sets of beliefs.She often felt that her marriage to Hadi, a childhood friend and fellow Iraqi American, did not live up to her high expectations. Hadi's lack of romantic gestures before and after her marriage was often a source of contention in their relationship. For years, she struggles to explain her marriage angst to her husband and wants him to figure it out on his own. This resentment grows to a boiling point when Hadi is accepted to medical school in Mexico, forcing Al-Marashi to move to Mexico; suspend her own graduate work; and struggle to fill large blocks of empty, lonely time. The pair is constantly fighting until the brink of divorce. By self reflection and exposing a long list of what she got wrong, including her own beliefs and the idea that her husband is an extension of herself rather than his own person, Al-Marashi finally gets to what’s right.
  I found this memoir to be an easy read. The author's high school and college experiences were highly relatable. There were many moments where I understood her frustration, having too grown-up with the rituals of attending prom (which I never did nor did I resent not attending) and wondering about a happily ever after that everyone seems to get in books, television, and movies. I wished there was a bit more insight towards the last half of the book. Regardless, I enjoyed it and read it in one sitting.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There are brief mentions of sex and some language. Recommended for older teens and adults.

If you like this book try: Love in a Headscarf by Shelina Zahra Janmohamed
3 Responses
  1. I didn't realize this is a memoir at first. It sounds interesting.

  2. Kindlemom Says:

    I never would have guessed this was a memoir from that cover! Wonderful review and glad this was good, it sounds fun!

  3. Kindlemom Says:

    Despite some of the issues, this does sound like it was a good read. Glad you enjoyed it!

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