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Sofia Khan #2

The Other Half of Happiness

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Sofia Khan is just married. But no-one told her life was going to be this way . . .

Her living situation is in dire straits, her husband Conall is distant, and his annoyingly attractive colleague is ringing all sorts of alarm bells.

When her mother forces them into a belated wedding ceremony ( you can run, but you can't hide), Sofia wonders if it might be a chance to bring them together. But when it forces Conall to confess his darkest secret, it might just tear them apart.

A book to make you smile, laugh and cry, this is the story of a mixed-race marriage and a mixed-up family, for anyone who's ever struggled to balance their pride with their principles, or stuck around to try to mend a broken heart.


'Snort-diet-Coke-out-of-your-nostrils funny . . . will resonate with any woman who's looking for love' Red

'Funny and sparky . . . huge fun.' Jenny Colgan

'The feminist romantic comedy you've been waiting for' Elle

'Fun, fresh and funny' Mhairi McFarlane

'The perfect blend of comedy and romance' Independent

448 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 17, 2017

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About the author

Ayisha Malik

10 books512 followers
Ayisha is a British Muslim, lifelong Londoner, and lover of books. She read English Literature and went on to complete an MA in Creative Writing (though told most of her family it was an MA in English Literature – Creative Writing is not a subject, after all.) She has spent various spells teaching, photocopying, volunteering and being a publicist. Now, when she isn’t searching for a jar of Nutella in her cupboards, she divides her time between writing and being managing editor at Cornerstones Literary Consultancy.

Ayisha is one of WH Smith's Fresh Talent picks, Winter 2016.

'Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged' is her first novel and will be published by Bonnier in Jan 2016.

'Fun, Fresh and Funny' – MHAIRI MCFARLANE, bestselling author of 'You Had Me At Hello.'

'Malik achieves the perfect balance of romance and humour' – INDEPENDENT

'In creating a host of characters that are normal in their abnormality, relatable yet individual, Malik is undoubtedly making a difference.' – NEW STATESMAN

'Thoroughly engaging and laugh-out-loud funny from the off, this witty, unapologetic, honest, fun and feisty tale fully deserves the buzz it's getting' – HEAT MAGAZINE

'Feisty, funny and relatable it’s the feminist romantic comedy you’ve been waiting for' – ELLE MAGAZINE

'This fictional diary of the dating travails of one righteous romantic is snort-diet-Coke-out-of-your-nostrils funny and will resonate with any woman who’s looking for love' – RED MAGAZINE

'...an entertaining debut with laugh-out-loud moments – a contemporary love story you won't want to miss' – CANDIS MAGAZINE

'Refreshing and funny' – SUNDAY MIRROR

'Fun, feisty and addictive. It deserves to be read' – IRISH EXAMINER

'A courageous, revealing, fiendishly funny and important book. Genuinely ground-breaking” – VASEEM KHAN, bestselling author of 'The Unexpected Inheritance of Mr Chopra'

'...everything about this novel challenges expectations...a sharp, funny but ultimately very normal portrait of life as a British Muslim' THE NATIONAL

'Must-read... Liven up your daily commute or boost your bedtime routine with [this] page-turner' – MARIE CLAIRE

'Best of the New Books Hot List... For fans of Bridget Jones’s Diary' – GRAZIA

Part of 'a new wave of female-focussed fiction... Bridget Jones-esque' – STYLIST

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 213 reviews
Profile Image for Warda.
1,154 reviews18.4k followers
April 6, 2017

Oh gosh, oh gosh, oh gosh.

Before I discuss the spoilery aspects of the story, I believe this duology has to be picked up and read, purely for the sake that it's by a Muslim author. Not only must we support authors that are in the minority, but it's incumbent upon publishers to realise (and publish) that more stories such as this (#ownvoices) have to become popularised, normalised and not be such a rarity. Kudos to Ayisha Malik for mentioning this in the book. The fact that even when diversity in books is shown in some sense, it is still controlled.

Plus, you'll die laughing. There's a heartwarming showcase of female friendship, and flawed, but great family.

Did I mention you'll die laughing?

Initial review:

Is it because of the fact that it's an arc that the ending didn't feel complete?

Anyway, great continuation of the story. I'm in love with these characters, how diverse this, its portrayal, the humour that had me dying with laughter.

Review to come!
Profile Image for Malia.
Author 6 books549 followers
August 28, 2017
Hm... on the one hand, I really zipped through The Other Side of Happiness and it is very readable largely due to its chatty nature. On the other hand I am left feeling quite disappointed. This book had none of the lightness and much less of the clever humor that made Sofia Khan is Not Obliged (the first book in the series) such a treat. I had really been looking forward to something lighter and Bridget Jones-ey without being predictable and silly, and what I got was a slightly disjointed and rather glum story that never felt satisfying to me, even at the end. I don't like to write a negative review, and Sofia was still a likable character, but I really hated her romantic relationship (if it can be called that). Conall drove me bonkers with his moodiness and misplaced self-righteousness. They don't communicate and I really feel that is the central conflict of the story, which makes it a fairly boring one. The one bright spot in this novel is Sofia's mother, who is such a character!
Again, I hate to be negative, especially because I really enjoyed the previous book in this series, but I was just quite disappointed, and I am not sure I would rush to return to this series when the next book is published.

Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com
Profile Image for K..
3,689 reviews1,007 followers
July 7, 2017
Trigger warnings: Some bombings during the sections set in Pakistan, though they don't impact on the main characters. Discussions of radicalisation.

So here's the thing. I really REALLY loved Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged. Sped through it. Loved the characters. Laughed a lot. Was super excited to read this one.

But pretty much from the get go, I knew I wasn't going to like this one NEARLY as much as I liked the first one. A lot of the plot revolves around poor communication, which annoyed the shit out of me. JUST USE YOUR WOOOOOOOOORDS OMG. This applies not only between Sofia and her new husband, but between her and her mother, her and various other family members, her and a colleague, her and one of her husband's colleagues. I just..........uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh. USE. YOUR. WORDS.

The plot twist around Sofia's husband ALSO involved a lot of shitty communication and Not Using Your Words, and GAH. Just stop.

Anyway. I liked that this book solidly acknowledges that a happy ending doesn't necessarily mean a happily ever after ending. I liked that it acknowledges that marriage is difficult and full of challenges. But the pacing was super wonky for me (there was all this build up and then it just...ended?) and basically? There was a lot about this that annoyed me.
Profile Image for Bookread2day.
2,237 reviews63 followers
July 4, 2022
After reading This Green And Pleasant Land by this author, I decided to read The Other Half of Happiness. I really do have to confess I absolutely enjoyed this novel. The one thing is I didn't expect The Other Half Of Happiness to be so funny. This perfect romance is one of those books to put the kettle on and read with nice a cuppa.

I loved how the story opens up with Oh my actual God, there’s a man in my bed! A real man. And what are the rules on Pakistani daughter swearing?

Sofia Khan is like a Muslim Bridget Jones. It does seem that Sofia had to fight that little bit harder to find her place in the world.

This book hasn't been written with an agenda to educate readers about people about modern Muslim women. The story does ends up with a happy ending, which is great because there is enough misery in the world and that makes me appreciate a happy ending. I would definitely read more novels by this author.
Profile Image for Aoife.
1,293 reviews550 followers
April 2, 2017
I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

I’m not even sure where to start with this book because I just feel so disappointed in it and I’m still working through my feelings and trying to accept how flat and downright depressed I was after finishing this book.

The Other Half of Happiness is the second book in the Sofia Khan series and starts off with Sofia in Karachi, Pakistan, and dealing with a whole load of new changes in her life.

This book started to feel off to me from the very start when we find out that Sofia is staying around a dingy apartment all day while Conall is off doing humanitarian work. At the end of the first book, Sofia left to get involved in this and I couldn’t figure out why she no longer helped out, or had she ever helped out with this or when she reconnected with Conall, all those plans fell to the wayside.

Then immediately, things start becoming really tense and frustrating. I was frustrated with multiple characters in this book for about 98% of it, mostly Sofia for just NOT USING HER WORDS. She lets people make decisions for her all the time, and then she will let others let her make the wrong decisions for herself and dictate her life at times and I hate it. She was guilty of this in the first book but I felt by the end she had grown but she went five steps backwards in this book.

The tension between Conall and Sofia from the start was just forced and annoying. There seemed to be a lot of problems for them made up in thin air. Conall not taking time off to attend his own damn wedding was just insane, and I couldn’t figure out his logical reasons for being so obstinate and infuriating. I also hated the Hamida thing thrown in, and there was obvious tension between her and Conall and then of course she ends up being gay?! But she still follows him around, butts into his business with his wife and acts like she’s in love with him and wants Sofia out of the picture. AND then she has the tenacity to blackmail Sofia into divorcing Conall? This is not a nice person people.

In book one, there was a few mentions of Muslim radicals and ‘fundos’ but they were often brought up in a humorous way and in a way that made it clear that this is something an average, normal Muslim family worry about and discuss. I liked the honesty about this but i liked that Ayisha Malik was also able to include it in a comedic way. However, in this book there was so much emphasis on the possibility of Conall becoming a “fundo”and while part of this was used to show how people can misunderstand what it is to be openly religious and talk about your faith and still be a normal person, I just felt like it was brought up way too much and it just became irritating. As was the times Sofia was told that Conall only converted for her - because she never asked him to do that, and she shouldn’t have to deal with guilt of ‘changing’ someone when all he did was find a faith he could connect with and something that could help heal him.

Conall’s character was just completely off for me. He was not the Conall I fell in love with in the first book. Nothing in the first book about him made the fact he had a secret family make sense. And come on, the kid having cancer? Total overload.

When Sakib entered the story in literally the first chapter, I knew what was coming down the road. It was so predictable and annoying. While he wasn’t necessarily a bad character and perhaps in the long run he would be good for Sofia, he’s not Conall. And he’s so serious too. I also didn’t like the way he was so quick to tell Sofia she had to give up the business if she was thinking of finding Conall.

The few things I did like in this book: Her mom’s storyline was great and I loved how she shrugged off people’s opinions and finally focused on her own happiness. Sofia’s interactions with Conall’s dad, particularly when he walked in on her ablutions and was very concerned that she dry her feet properly. I also like that Sofia helped create a publishing company that was focused on publishing Muslim authors.

Side note: Would have liked to have had some kind of detail about how Sofia’s first book did in sales? It was published and then we literally heard nothing about it.

The end of this book just felt like a bit of a kick in the teeth to be honest.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jane (It'sJaneLindsey).
446 reviews516 followers
April 26, 2017
I need to start this review by saying that I loved Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged, and fully expected to love this sequel. Sadly, The Other Half of Happiness fell somewhere between disappointing and infuriating. Everything that I loved about Sophia and her story (and her family/friends) was gone in this second book. I didn’t like anyone or their choices, and I realized that I should stay away from marriage novels in the future because I find them boring at best. I did, however, really enjoy Sophia’s mom and her storyline.

The central conflict in this novel was frustrating, because every character I fell in love with in the first book continued to make completely out of character choices and NO ONE USES THEIR WORDS. Throw in some unnecessarily new characters as potential romantic interests and I was done. The constant conversations about whether a certain character was becoming a “fundo” were relentless and irritating, since it made no sense. So much of this book, for that matter, made no sense.

The Other Half of Happiness ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, or at least is far too open ended, and there is currently no third book in sight. I was so excited for this sequel, and now I wish Ayisha Malik hadn’t bothered. This was just so completely disappointing.

Rating: 2 stars

I received an eARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a free and honest review.
Profile Image for Aaliyah.
73 reviews44 followers
May 28, 2017
even better than the first. an emotional rollercoaster. i am not ok.


having slept on it... WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT ENDING?!!! very frustrating :(
Profile Image for Juwi.
422 reviews87 followers
June 11, 2017
2.5 stars

I really enjoyed Sofia Khan is Not Obliged so i was really excited to start the sequel...especially after that ending!

but wow...was i disappointed.

the characters were all over the place. the writing is all over the place. i was confused most of the time...who is speaking? why are they saying this? WHY CAN'T PEOPLE JUST COMMUNICATE?! smh


the song 'The Story of Us' by Taylor Swift is relevant here:

'Oh, a simple complication
Miscommunications lead to fall out
So many things that I wish you knew
So many walls up I can't break through'

Sofia and Conall's relationship:

i felt like the editing was also rather poor in this book as the book just felt like it was too all over the place...i get it's a diary and sofia's life is a mess but urgh it just annoyed me.

i wanted to finish it though to see what happened to all the characters but we didnt really get closure about anything.

Sakib was such an annoyingly irrelevant character that came out of nowhere and WOW how AMAZINGLY CONVENIENT THAT THEY MANAGED TO
tbh i'm glad

the plot twist was so dumb honestly...like??????? 🙄

SOFIA'S FRIENDS WERE ALSO SUCH A LET DOWN IN THIS BOOK...i felt like their characters were so bland and we didnt even find out about their lives at the end... did hannah adopt a child???? is foz happily married???? why did

also i really hate the amount of abbreviations she uses like...i tend to forget their actual names since she usually uses nicknames and also ramadan to rammers is just a no from me omg why would ANYONE SAY RAMMERS?????????!!!!!!!


sofia is so selfish and annoying i can't with this grown ass woman who still can't even cook for herself.

also the end was ambiguous so like one minute

there were plenty of funny LOL moments and i love how this book is basically saying 'muslims are normal people what is there to be afraid of' etc but also it was so meh.


anyways, read it for yourself if you enjoyed the first book!

Happy Reading!

Profile Image for naomi.
32 reviews10 followers
April 28, 2017
Rating this really isn't easy. I mean, I read it in a day and I enjoyed it a LOT, but WTF was that ending? What did Ayisha Malik think? And why isn't she writing another Sofia Khan book? I need more closure!! And a less frustrating ending to a story I was very, very invested in.
Profile Image for Emily.
451 reviews48 followers
July 26, 2017
When I first found out about The Other Half of Happiness, I was lowkey scared I wouldn't like it as much as I loved Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged. But Ayisha Malik knows what's up and as soon as I started reading it I was HOOKED. I didn't want to stop reading it and when I actually did it I wanted to pick it back up as soon as possible.

Sofia is still a great narrator and I LOVE HER!! I loved her friends, her sister, her mother, her family, EVERYONE. All relationships are amazing and I loved every single thing about them all - and how the women here are always there for each other, doesn't matter what happens. I'm a sucker for families and friendships and this is a thing that Ayisha delivers wonderfully.

But at the same time WHAT WAS HAPPENING?? ON MY GOD??????? I was yelling all the time to be honest because there's SO MUCH DRAMA and I was SO WORRIED ALL THE TIME??? I was worried about Sofia and Connall and his parents and her mother and her friends and the irish kid and EVERYTHING. Poor communication was the main villain here and it drove me insane. Just. Please. Talk with each other. Tell them stuff. Stop making me suffer.

So, even though the ending and the whole not-dealing-with-stuff were terrible and made me want to scream, I loved the relationships and Sofia's love for Connall, her sister and her mother and her friends. I really wish we had another Sofia Khan book to know what happens next, but so far, so good.
Profile Image for Amena.
243 reviews91 followers
August 14, 2017
Not as good as the first one but a great continuation of characters and plot. The ending was okay. Just that. Okay. I can see why readers may have had a problem with it but it kinda worked. It's difficult to review this without giving any spoilers away!

I wasn't laughing out loud as much and I did think parts of the story line were a bit far fetched as well as reactions to it. for example, I can't see any parent let alone a Muslim one just taking it Conall's story in her stride. I expected more from Sofia too in the same regard.

But still. I finished it in a few days. I love how relatable it is and how Muslim women are portrayed in it I.e. we are not all victimised or oppressed. In fact, we are pretty normal and just your average female. I also thought it was very accurate how marriage has peaks and troughs, some make it and some don't, it's not always a bed of roses etc. So much more than YA rom-com!
Profile Image for Hussaina Gambo.
22 reviews
April 14, 2020
I am so angry, I could hit something. I absolutely saw no point in writing this sequel. It was very annoying and frustrating.
First off, from the beginning, all we saw about Sofia and Conall’s new life was problems lurking ahead, unanswered questions and just a reluctant dose of romance. I wish we had been given the good stuff first before the problems reared their ugly heads.
Now, the lightness and fun in the first book was visibly nowhere to be found in this book. It was too heavy and serious all the way. The marriage guide book she wrote in this book, I actually feel sorry for the publishers if it were a real book. They actually commissioned a funny book, there was nothing funny about the excerpts we saw.
All the characters that made the first book special only conspired to make this book annoying. The mum kept butting in at inappropriate times. The friends always surfaced at the most inappropriate times. It was bit too much and all over the place. Times were when she would send text message upon text message to the girls and no one would respond. In fact she spent days after returning to London but none of them visited her. I thought that was her queue to learn that other people had actual lives to live not just attend to her and her problems. The mother appeared progressive, getting engaged nine months after her husband’s passing.. The author had to spoil even that one by making the mother break the engagement. All of a sudden she began to care what other people thought. So so exhausting.
Every good story must have a conflict. The conflict here was contrived. It was like they had to search for a problem to pin on Conall. So it turns out that he had a family, I wish the problem was that he had not divorced the wife which means he was married when he married Sofia. That would have been a problem. I sincerely don’t get how Conall couldn’t just have mentioned that he abandoned his family. But she forgave him and they moved on. But they had to manufacture another problem again. A stupid one at that.
I feel cheated having read the book. My rational self was telling me to steer clear of a sequel, they usually end badly but Sofia Khan was so nice and funny I thought this one couldn’t go wrong. How wrong I was.
I don’t even have the energy to discuss the ending. Where is it written that if you are going to divorce someone, you don't care about him anymore even though people have been calling you that he is doing badly? And just as if Sofia woke up from a slumber, she then decided she cared enough to go to Karachi. One would think nearly losing him would make her revaluate her choices, but she was hell bent on the divorce. I think the author just wanted to say Sofia got a divorce so as to give Sakib a chance. I don’t know why the insistence on the divorce. Is that how people get divorced? You talk about it once and then it’s over? As if London was half way across the world from Ireland.
Why were there only two choices, either to go to Ireland with Conall or get divorced? Couldn’t she work from Ireland? Or even continue with the relationship while she was still in London? What is this conflict, please?
This book is badly written because the author is coming out with a third book. A bit like milking the first story for all it is worth. I already know how it is going to end. Sofia will marry Sakib and Sakib will die or they will get a divorce and she will marry Conall again. Unfortunately I am not sticking around to confirm this.
My sisters are all waiting for me to read the book but I won’t give it to them. Won’t want them to waste their time as I did.
Before I sign off, that Hamida bit was so so so so annoying and unnecessary.
And I also did not appreciate her extreme awareness of Sakib when she was still married and heartbroken. That didn’t seem like the behaviour of someone who was heartbroken.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for booksofallkinds.
1,013 reviews157 followers
March 31, 2017
I was absolutely delighted when I got the opportunity to review THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPINESS by Ayisha Malik, even though it was my first encounter with the beloved character of Sofia Khan. Although I had not read the first book in this series, it did not remotely take away from this beautifully emotional and entertaining story as the author effortlessly filled in any gaps I may have had. But when you find an author as good as Ayisha Malik, I would recommend buying all of her books!!

Sofia Khan is married to Conall, her Irish next-door neighbour who converted so they could be together, and she loves him beyond measure. But married life is not exactly turning out as she planned. Firstly Sofia finds herself back in London alone, dealing with the fallout of her elopement with her overbearing, over-involved family, while her husband is across the world working on his own personal crusade with the very attractive Hamida. And then she finds herself writing a book on marriage for her new editor, while she begins to realise that she doesn't really know her husband that well. Add in an impromptu wedding organised by her mother, an unexpected engagement, and many hilarious escapades with her friends, and Sofia's life is like a rollercoaster. But when Conall returns he tells her something that will change her life forever. Finally, Sofia begins to understand why Conall travels the world in search of peace and absolution, but while she can understand his reasons, it changes who she thought he was, and at the same time her life is changing as she starts to build something purely for herself without Conall - can there be any way back for both of them?

I laughed, I cried, and I learned about another culture in this wonderful story of love, family, friendship, and facing your past. All of the characters in this book are compelling in their own ways, and I felt completely immersed in all of their emotions and needs as the story developed. Well-paced and interesting throughout, I read this book in one sitting and I really didn't want it to end (fingers crossed this will not be the last we see of Sofia Khan). THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPINESS by Ayisha Malik is more than a romantic comedy, it is a relatable tale about the heart and soul of what makes us love, laugh, and cry, our mistakes, our dreams, and our faults. THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPINESS is just one of those special books that make your whole body hum, and I cannot recommend it highly enough!!!

*I voluntarily reviewed this book from the Publisher
172 reviews
October 12, 2017
Judging from the first book I was expecting a book where the couple are married and ofcourse have problems with the parents and I thought his secret would be something workable and then they would have funny pregnancy problems.... this really wasn't what I wanted it just seemed a bit too far fetched for me... I really just wanted a funny sequel of the ups and downs of marriage with racial differences but that had a happy ending with cute babies... not this vague ending *sigh*
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Shelley.
333 reviews6 followers
June 6, 2017
The writing was fine. I liked the day/month structure of the book; made it really easy to get through (and easy to convince yourself you'll read just one more chapter before bed). I do think it was necessary for Malik to re-introduce Sofia's friends better. It's been a year since I'd read the first book and it was a bit difficult remembering which friend had which personality and which friend ended up with which guy. Strangely, being unable to remember her friends well, their personalities/lives in this book seemed to blend into one, which doesn't say really promising things about the characterisation.

Anyway. If I sound a bit short it's because I mainly want to get all that out of the way to say: what the fuck. What is the utter depressing madness that is the whole plot of this book?! I was so excited to read more about Sofia's life, but now I just feel robbed of the joy I was promised from the first book.

This is a romantic comedy. Sorry Ayisha Malik, but no, you are not writing the next Pulitzer novel. Frankly, I would not have picked this book up if it was marketed as a depressing family drama -- especially when .

But you know, I was mostly fine getting to that ending. I didn't like the ultimatum handed to Sofia at the end, but when I found myself unable to root for a woman I realised I could make peace with that ending.

Then I turned the page. That "dear reader" author's note is what has shifted my view of this book. I feel entirely disrespected by Malik after reading that. Two parts in particular:

1) "I wanted to tackle the idea of a happily ever after (because happy endings are all good and well, but let's have a bit of reality too.)"

2) "I'm ready to move on from Sofia Khan for now."

It's one thing to write a disappointing book. It's another entirely to have set out with the deliberate intention of wrecking every happiness granted to the characters from the first book. In context, this quote read worse. It gave me the impression Malik thought herself "above" the romantic comedy genre; that those books are shallow and unrealistic but Malik, on the other hand, has written a nuanced and sophisticated reflection of the complexities of real relationships (hence my sour Pulitzer quip). It's so disrespectful. It's an insult to me, as a romantic comedy reader. It's an insult to all the best romantic comedy writers. And I am so tired of people looking down on the romantic comedy genre because (for once) it's unapologetically female orientated; I don't need it from within its authors too (oh, but Malik doesn't consider herself a romantic comedy writer -- excuse me while my eyes fall out of my head from the excessive rolling).

And then. She runs away. Absconding all responsibility to her readers, especially after the bait-and-switch that is this second book, Ayisha Malik has decided she's done with the series. I feel disrespected. I feel like my time has not been valued by Malik and her editorial team. They asked us to root for and invest in these characters. And when we did -- they dropped them off a cliff. "For now", Malik dangles like a carrot, but why would I bother to wait around? Who knows what sort of Eat, Pray, Love crap the next book is going to turn into.

I'm just reading that author's note again. "While Sofia Khan is Not Obliged was dubbed a rom-com, to me it was really the story of a struggle; the internal one, pitted against the external one". I'm shaking my head at the pretentiousness of it all. It's okay to write a fun book. It's important for Muslim women, WOC to get a fun book where good things happen to them -- for once.

The thing that gets to me: Someone sat Malik down and told her this was a good idea. Editors, agents, support persons. Someone told her this was bold and honest and daring. You know what this book reminds me of? There's always that manufactured pop star. The one that gives the interview saying, "I don't sing pop music. I'm a real artist." And you just feel a bit sorry for them.
Profile Image for Ilhaam.
329 reviews244 followers
April 29, 2021
The Other Half of Happiness took me through a range of emotions. i was laughing and crying and just losing my mind in general, and i loved every second of it.

‼️Spoiler coming next‼️

the end broke me. i was so angry at him for most of the book, but i was still rooting for him. but god. the end.
Profile Image for halfirishgrin.
288 reviews177 followers
May 19, 2017
There were a lot of things that I liked about this book, but unfortunately, it wasn't exactly what I had hoped it would be.

So Sofia Khan is now married - great! And this sequel to Sofia Khan is Not Obliged look into the other side of marriage, once you get past the whole fairy-tale idealism of it. That marriage is not just falling in love and living happily after, it is much much more.

And I was really glad for it - honestly - but I don't understand why being faced with the reality that marriage is not just about fairy tale idealism led to

Ultimately, I felt like the book was very linear. None of the characters really grew, and I feel like Sofia is essentially at the same place that she was at the end of the last book - with hopeful idealism.
Profile Image for Robin Stevens.
Author 52 books2,100 followers
April 27, 2017
I love Ayisha's writing and I love Sofia Khan. There's so much brilliant, funny stuff here about British Muslim life, both the good bits and the bad, and about how tough it can be when you fall in love with someone from another culture than your own. Unexpectedly heartbreaking and expectedly well-observed, I'm looking forward to seeing what Ayisha does next. 14+

*Please note: this review is for recommendation purposes only. Please do not reuse online or in print without my permission. Thank you!*
Profile Image for Mani.
644 reviews
May 10, 2020
Having read the first book “Sofia Khan is not Obliged” last year for book club I couldn’t wait to pick this follow up book.

The Other Half of Happiness continues to follow Sofia as she moves to Karachi, Pakistan with her new husband Conall, who is currently on a work assignment out there. From the very beginning I knew this was going to be a very different read and basically the whole book revolved around the poor communication, hidden feelings and family secrets between Sofia and Conall. To me the direction in which this plot was going was quite obvious and the only reason I read to the end was to see if I was right, and I was.

In the first book I really liked Sofia’s character, but in this one I didn’t like her as much. She seemed to be a totally different character and I didn’t like the way she handled some of the situations at arose in this book. It wasn’t how Sofia in the first book would have handled things.

The writing in this book was also not as good as the first, it felt very simplistic and a little disorganised. It also wasn’t as entertaining. And for the ending, well that was a little disappointing too especially as this is yet another book I’ve read which ends with an open ending. I really prefer my books to end with a conclusion whether it’s a happy one or not.

Although I have a lot of negative things to say about this book I feel overall it was worth the read and it definitely made a nice change, as I didn’t really need to use my brain to understand what was going on.

I would recommend this one to those who are looking for a bit of light drama and quick read. But, I recommend you read Sofia Khan is not Obliged first.
Profile Image for Joanne.
1,026 reviews148 followers
June 25, 2017
Originally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.

I absolutely adored Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik - so much so that I bought the sequel, The Other Half of Happiness before I was even half way through the first. I opened the second book looking forward to visiting these incredible characters again, and the humour that is a huge part of Sofia's personality. And although there is some humour, The Other Half of Happiness is a very different book. Where the first was a romcom, The Other Half is more of a drama. And it was absolutely incredible.

Where Sofia Khan is Not Obliged was lighthearted and humorous for the most part, The Other Half is a lot more emotional. I think it would be unfair to say, "Don't pick up this book expecting the first," because the characters are still the same people - there's Sofia's mum making hilarious but inappropriate comments, there are Sofia's friends being absolutely incredible, wonderful women, and there's Sofia being Sofia, who who I just love and so wish I could be friends with - but Sofia soon finds herself in completely different circumstances, and levity is hard to find.

I spent most of the book with a heavy heart. Not only is she finding it difficult to deal with the revelation of Conall's secret, but she's still grieving her father's death, plus feeling upset and kind of betrayed that her mother has decided to marry her childhood sweetheart, when her dad hasn't been dead a year yet. I got to a point where I was thinking, "What?!", gobsmacked and angry and upset on Sofia's behalf, wondering how Sofia was meant to get past this roadblock, but as the story continues, things just spirals more and more out of control. I was reading with a feeling of desperation, so emotionally involved in the story, and hoping so much that things would go a certain way, but then the story takes a turn that filled me with a differnt kind of desperation, one of fear and uncertainty.

The Other Half of Happiness had a surprising ending, and yet maybe it shouldn't have been surprising, because it was realistic. I have thoughts, but they will be spoil the story, so don't click the button if you have yet to read the novel and don't want it spoilt for you.

The Other Half of Happiness isn't the book I was expecting. It was hugely emotional and heart-wrenching, but all the better for it. I may have adored Sofia Khan is Not Obliged, but I love The Other Half of Happiness more. It's real, it's raw, and it's beautiful. And I will absolutely read everything Malik writes in the future. I cannot recommend these two books enough.
Profile Image for bibliophoenix.
359 reviews15 followers
March 17, 2021
This was very disappointing. The first book had me laughing and was just a light hearted read that I loved. This. Well, it wasn't light hearted and I just didn't care about them anymore. I managed to read halfway but didn't want to waste anymore of my time.
Profile Image for Clair Sharpe.
520 reviews41 followers
November 10, 2017
Following on from the novel Sofia Khan is not Obliged, we join Sofia and her newly converted husband in Karachi, as they start married life together, as a Muslim couple. Told in the form of diary entries over the course of a year, it's very much like Bridget Jones (which the author readily admits was an influence) but with a Muslim protagonist, family and friends. I love Sofia's voice and I find the whole immersion into the Muslim culture fascinating. I lookibg forward to seeing what Ayisha Malik does next.
Profile Image for Safiyya.
164 reviews2 followers
October 28, 2022
Filled with heart, heartbreak and humour. Far exceeded the first book in the series, Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged, with its mature writing and storyline. I was drawn in from beginning to the end. Really well done.
January 15, 2022
Can anybody kindly tell me the summary of this novel. I have wadded through the Novel but failed to understand the story yet. Your five minutes can save my 2-3 months. Gratitude in advance. obliged to you.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jess.
512 reviews80 followers
March 24, 2017
Check out this review and more on my blog!

I received an ARC of The Other Half of Happiness from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Check out my review of Sofia Khan is Not Obliged here!

3.5 Stars

Last year I read Ayisha Malik's debut, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged, and really enjoyed it, so I was thrilled when I was approached by the publisher and offered the chance to receive an ARC of the sequel, The Other Half of Happiness. If you haven't read Sofia Khan is Not Obliged and you're planning to then I suggest you stop reading this review now; I try to keep my reviews spoiler-free, but as this book is a sequel there will be spoilers for the end of the first book here.

One of the things I mentioned in my review of the first book was that it felt like two different books in one; the first half of the book was very much a Muslim Bridget Jones's Diary while the second half took a more serious turn, leaving me a little unsure as to the kind of tone the book was trying to hit. The Other Half of Happiness felt much more like the latter half of the first book, but Malik has still littered the story with a great sense of humour and Sofia is still such a fun protagonist to follow.

Honestly, I found this book difficult to rate and see-sawed between 3 and 4 stars for a long time before I finally compromised and settled on 3.5. I loved the relationship between Sofia and Conall in the first book - the end of Sofia Khan is Not Obliged definitely gave me the warm fuzzies - and I'm still not sure how I feel about what happens to their relationship in this book. As the blurb suggests, Sofia discovers that Conall has a pretty big secret and that secret turned Conall into someone I wasn't sure I liked anymore. I appreciated that Conall became more complex, that he's definitely not perfect despite Sofia's idolisation of him in the first book, but the secret he keeps from Sofia is not okay (the keeping it from her that is, not the secret itself) and I got a little frustrated by the way he seemed to look down on Sofia's writing career in this book while expecting her to put up with his own passion project. This was especially confusing considering he was so supportive of her in the first book.

What Sofia was lacking in romance in this book, however, she certainly made up for in the relationships with the other women in her life. I loved that Malik chose to explore the relationship Sofia has with her mother, in particular, as well as her sister and her friends. They're all incredibly supportive of Sofia, and it was nice to see this focus when so much of the first book was focused on Sofia's romantic life. So much of Sofia's life seems to have been focused on romance and marriage that, in this book, it felt as though she was finally able to pour more of her energy into the other areas of her life, such as her career.

Unfortunately, I didn't quite enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the first one. I loved the themes that Malik chose to explore, but so much of the book was Sofia being sad and moping; this is completely justified considering what happens, but it didn't make for particularly thrilling reading. In fact parts of this book felt like reading the first book again, with Sofia once again unsure where her life is going or what's going to become of her career - I desperately wanted her to use her own initiative more rather than simply jumping on the opportunities other people offered her. She's a bright woman, she just needed a bit of a kick up the backside from time to time.

I did still like this book, though, and I recommend both Sofia Khan books - particularly if you enjoy contemporary, and especially if you're interested in reading a Muslim protagonist written by a Muslim author.
Profile Image for Halima Cheryl Owen.
5 reviews7 followers
February 10, 2019
A cliff hanger throughout

Very different to the first book and not as optimistic and fun to read much more serious however enjoyed it but was hard work reading as had emotions all over the place. So many options available to end the book and think a better ending would be more satisfying. Maybe author is setting a lead to another book and if so get it written already.....
Profile Image for Kadidja May.
57 reviews25 followers
April 28, 2017
I really love the themes of this duology: the obsession of having a significant other by the time you're 30 (as a woman), the expectation that it has to be perfect once you do, the duty of pleasing your family, the stigma of separations and new beginnings, the challenges between mix-raced couples paired with the evolvement of conversion... As someone from a Muslim background, and as a woman today, I can't but be grateful for these topics being part of literature.

One of the things I love about Sofia is her no-BS, no lovey-dovey attitude. It's one of the same reasons I love Lizzie Bennet. They're not pining for a man or seeking validation through one, and their resolution to follow their heart (eventually) against mainstream expectations is a model of woman that should be much more present. Because even with a partner, what's right for you and your growth?

On to this volume specifically: A lot happens. I found large parts frustrating, which was justified as the characters themselves were frustrated too (and I was sitting there thinking, well great! because my life isn't frustrating enough already), but I can really appreciate it now. Sofia's focus goes beyond romance and she dedicates more time to understand her family, her friends and herself.

I also enjoyed reading more about his story too, finally! What are his motivations, where is he from, who is he??

There's a different feel to the characters, which might be due to it being a second volume, or maybe it's a result of new circumstances. It's easy to be annoyed at characters not communicating with each other properly, but let's be real, this happens all the time IRL.

Ultimately, the title sums it up pretty well. Was I rooting for how it developed? Of course not. Do I understand it? Yes. Loved this Quran verse being mentioned, "You may hate something that is good for you and you may love something that is bad for you." What are the solid things in Sofia's life? What's the sensible choice to stand strong on her own two feet? Who can support that, and are feelings enough to bridge priorities? Maybe yes, maybe no, but having a partner isn't the end of it all. Sometimes the other side of happiness can be the best place to grow, and who knows what greater things you could gain there?
Profile Image for Katherine Sunderland.
656 reviews21 followers
April 3, 2017
I was absolutely thrilled to receive a review copy of this novel as I have been eagerly anticipating it's arrival since finishing the last page of Ayisha Malik's first book a year ago. This novel is a continuation of Sofia's story. It is possible to enjoy as a stand alone, but probably makes more sense to read Sofia Khan is not Obliged first as this story continues to share with us the ups and downs and ins and outs of the relationship between Sofia and Conall who are now married.

I'm also absolutely thrilled that Malik decided to continue Sofia's story. Sofia is a great character and I really wanted to find out what would happen to her now she was married to her (hot) Irish next door neighbour! She is a lively, witty character and it was lovely to be back in her company, even if she still isn't sharing those chocolate digestives and KitKats. No doubt Malik felt under pressure to deliver an equally entertaining, light-hearted-yet-not-without-serious-issues novel, but deliver it she did. There is absolutely nothing disappointing about this book. I loved it.

In fact, as the character Sakib says, "I think it's better than the dating book.....It's more insightful - [there's] more depth." I totally agree. I think Malik is a great writer because her book feels like a conversation with a friend; it is honest, down to earth, sometimes raw, sometimes emotional and always humorous. But on top of that, her real skill is that although this is relatively lighthearted novel about marriage, families and relationships, it is actually layered with insightful, intelligent observations about people and society. Don't underestimate Malik. She is obviously fiercely intelligent and a great people watcher.

The Other Half of Happiness is over 430 pages long and I was very grateful for this. I would have read on. I was in no hurry to leave. I am invested in Sofia and her family however dysfunctional they may be and however claustrophobic it sometimes feels to Sofia, I relished the fact it was quite a long novel. Malik's writing is so accessible, fluent and funny that you really have no idea how many pages or how long you have been reading for.

The book is written as Sofia's diary; clearly organised into 12 months following her as she researches her "Muslim Marriage Book" and lives through the 12 months of her marriage with Conall. This in itself makes it a very immediate and informal story. It is also very easy for the reader to form a relationship with Sofia. Alongside that we have text messages, emails and "notes for book" which often come as a kind of postscript. Even though they are in italics, they are never to be skimmed over or their poignancy underestimated. All these techniques make it a very contemporary novel and a hugely engaging read.

So The Other Half Of Happiness is 'part 2' of Sofia's relationship guide - the marriage bit. She's been commissioned by her boss to tell all about 'Muslim Marriages'. This should be the happy ever after bit. It should be the easy bit. But it isn't that straight forward. For Conall and Sofia, marriage seems to have forgotten its promise of a happy ending and in fact brought along a whole host of issues that neither of them had thought they would be facing.

Note for book: Whatever you do- if writing a guide to marriage, don't end up penning your very own marital misery memoir.

Conall and Sofia's relationship is complex. At first what seems a bit of miscommunication, a slight drifting, a misconception that both are happy with their career choices - and a bit of jealousy - becomes something more tangled. The small cracks get bigger and then there are some revelations which threaten to destroy everything for them. I think it's a brave story and a brave angle for Malik to take; a newly wed couple who are clearly very fond of each other but run into difficulties very early on in their relationship. Sofia may appear a little chaotic at times but she is also strong and committed to her beliefs and values. She is a refreshing voice and quite a unique one. I liked this story because it is realistic, honest and at times very sad.

I was also pleased to rejoin Sofia's mother. She is a great creation. She is so easy to visualise and it is so easy to hear her voice. Any scenes with her guarantee a raised eyebrow or smile from the reader - although again, not a character to underestimate either. Malik evokes the mother / daughter relationship effortlessly and is able to convey the religious and cultural setting with a deft hand. Although many of the references and conversations will not be unfamiliar to any daughter!

"'We can only ask our children to give us happiness,' [mum] said, ' We can't expect it.'
Mum the martyr was so much worse than mum the despot."

Ayisha Malik is a Muslim and Sofia Khan is a Muslim. This book is about young Muslim women. As with Sofia Khan is not Obliged, The Other Half of Happiness gently challenges a few assumptions, it draws attention to a few generalisations but it is all done with a gentle touch. It is not educative or moralising, it's observational and authentic. And Kelly Bright's interview is so cleverly reported that despite the issues underlying the questions she asks, the focus remains the focus of the book - love and happiness. The Other Half of Happiness is a romantic comedy at heart (excuse the pun!). It's a book about realistic expectations, confronting truths and then finding happiness through coming to terms with what happiness means to you.

"Don't think about what you've lost. Think of the things you still have. And what, if you look for it, you might find."

Malik's first novel was compared to Bridget Jones and I'm sure this second novel will be too. There is same feel, tone of voice and similarity in dynamics between parents, friends and partners that we see in Bridget Jones. There are similarities in the style of the novel and the structure of the chapters. Perhaps there is a similarity in the protagonists' journeys. Whatever it is, I don't think this comparison is a bad thing for Malik at all - I think it shows that she has written a book that is going to be universally relevant and universally loved.

So boil the kettle, shut the door, curl up on the bed and break open that packed of chocolate digestives. Treat yourself to The Other Half of Happiness. You'll love it.

Oh, and if you are in still in any doubt of Sofia's wisdom, how's this........

"Count every lucky star you have- they will come in the shape of the friends you love."

If you like commercial women's fiction, if you like fiction about families, relationships and marriage you will enjoy this book. If you like a book which makes you laugh, cry and gain you unwanted attention on the train when you find yourself snorting into your coffee and spitting your biscuit on a fellow commuter, then you must read this book.

If you like a book which is very well written, well structured, well paced and actually digs a bit deeper - a book which makes you think about religion, women and society a bit more, then this is definitely a must read. Ayisha Malik is a funny, intelligent and insightful writer. I really hope that even if this is the end of Sofia Khan's adventure into writing books, it is by no means Malik's.
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