I was initially skeptical of this book, firstly it being a romance novel and secondly the author's very young age, also the Amazon sampler before downloading the book did not impress me so much. The first chapter or 2 that you can read as part of the free preview slightly disappointed me with a slightly under developed use of good quality vocabulary, there were moments when it felt the English language wasn't freely flowing as it should. But then again it is the author's debut novel and unlike her fellow Anglo Pakistani writers does not come from a back ground where she holds a degree in English or Creative writing so I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and downloaded the book.
The book is about a young early 20's something girl named "Zarish" who hails from an upper middle class business owning family in Lahore. She is no different from any other girl in her age group, living a laid back care free life style that involves going to University, socializing with friends and just taking life easy. We are introduced early in the novel to her childhood best friend, a young man by the name of Haroon, who she has grown up with and has spent the most time. Their parents always assume, that their close friendship will blossom into love and eventually marriage.
It seems everything is going according to a standard scrip, this is until one evening while she is out with her friends for dinner, she has a by chance bumping into some one who unknowingly to her would change her life in the weeks and months that were to follow. That person being "Ahmer Murad", a young man in his late 20's who has returned to Pakistan leaving behind a life abroad to be with his ageing father. Little did Zarish know that the man she had an brief interaction with at the restaurant would be one of her professors and mentors at the university in the coming semester.
Considering the embarrassing nature of their first interaction, Zarish is shown as some one who is drawn to her professor's good looks as well as engulfed in a sense of discomfort whenever she sees Ahmer Murad around. It doesn't take Ahmer long to develop a good bond with his students, as he becomes a much loved instructor at the university with students showing significant interest in the finance class taught him. As the semester goes by, circumstances move in such a way that the amount off out of close interaction between Zarish and Ahmer increases and they see a side to each other beyond the teacher-student relationship, they start seeing each as the other person behind the curtains with a glimpse into their lives and how their families have crossed paths in the past.
As their paths cross more and more, they start developing a friendship that involves a trusting relationship as well, which blossoms into love with Zarish being the first one to confess her unconditional love to Ahmer and the 2 are left with hard choices, some moral self questioning about going beyond a student-teacher relationship and the challenges, some expected and some unexpected that will test them and tear them apart.
There are many beautiful moments in the book, many intimate moments shared by Zarish and Ahmer, such as the first time Ahmer confesses her love for Zarish, and the first time they kiss. The chemistry and bond shown in the book between Zarish and Ahmer reflects the innocent nature of our two characters which if you ask most people is a dying trait one rarely finds, that makes it the book's unique differentiating point that it is a simple innocent love story with innocent characters whose love is tested by norms, limitations and tragedy. Saying anything further would be spoiling the book for would be readers, I highly recommend it, especially if you are under the age of 25. For her debut novel Miss Naveed has done a very good job and I look forward to reading her next book.
I am giving the book 4 stars, because of some minor short comings in the book, such as the quality of English used in some of the earlier chapters is not off a very high standard, secondly the writer has not made use of the odd humour that some writers use to keep their audiences engaged in the book this may bore some readers though personally I did not experience boredom while reading this book and thirdly the length of the book was almost 400 pages, an ideal book in South Asian literature should be under 300 pages, their were some things that seemed like repetitive in the book and could have been left out, while some minor characters were not given their due justice and coverage. It would have been nice to know a bit more about Ahmer's past in particular especially his youth.
I wish Sara Naveed all the best in her future works, I am already eagerly awaiting her next book. For those in Pakistan this book has not been officially launched nationwide, it is available on the Amazon Kindle if you are a Kindle user, alternatively you could contact the writer on her Facebook page and order a paper back (In Pakistan) with an option of Cash on delivery. For readers in Karachi, not yet available at Liberty books.