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A Good Wife: Escaping the Life I Never Chose

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  717 ratings  ·  102 reviews
She faced years of abuse after arriving in Canada as a teenage bride in a hastily arranged marriage, but nothing could stop Samra Zafar from pursuing her dreams

At 15, Samra Zafar had big dreams for herself. She was going to go to university, and forge her own path. Then with almost no warning, those dreams were pulled away from her when she was suddenly married to a
ebook, 352 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by HarperCollins Publishers
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Noor Grewal-Virk
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The fact that a girl from a “somewhat progressive” Pakistani family... a family in which the parents first priority was their daughters education, and yet they end up marrying her off at the age of 16 makes one realize the power of societal pressure on parents of daughters in a culture where girls/women are considered not worthy of respect or equality. It makes my heart bleed to imagine if this is what happened to a girl from a family like Samra’s, what must be happening to girls who do not have ...more
Diane B
Apr 12, 2019 rated it liked it
I first read Samra Zafar's story in the pages of Toronto Life magazine (Feb 2017) and was impressed with her courage and resilience. She went on to win a National Magazine Award, but also to inspire other women to leave abusive partners. This in turn inspired her to write a memoir. A contender for Canada Read, the Washington Post is calling this one of the top 10 books to read in 2019.

I heard the author speak at the Art of Leadership for Women conference in Toronto (April 2019) and was again
Brianna Benton
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, hcc-books
An inspiring, emotional memoir about how a fight for education became an escape from an abusive relationship. I couldn’t put the book down because I was desperate to find out the rest of Samra’s story. And, I must confess, I had runaway tears streaming down my face as I read the book on the subway. No shame.

This book is great for woman of all ages, especially the younger ones. Through Samra’s story, you are exposed to multiple forms of abuse but also the importance of an education.
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very bravely written and remarkable memoir about one woman escaping an abusive arranged marriage and her persistence to become empowered through a university education. Zafar's story transcends cultural differences and shows the reader how abuse festers within family and pours down from generation to generation. This was a book that was very hard to put down and I kept cheering for Zafar as she progressed along her arduous journey.
Shahtaj Shahid
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was an absolutely amazing read! I could not put the book down even for a second. I finished it in one sitting. The story hits home for me as Samra and I grew up in the same town and our dad's were friends. It reminded me of my own home during my high school years and the ridiculous amount of domestic abuse I was put through. It's so inspiring to see women make it so far while having so little. Samra is an awesome human being, and great author.
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant memoir by a powerful woman.

My own mother went through a more subdued version of these events and had the courage to break free. I am very lucky to have the kind of freedom and agency I have in my life and that is entirely due to her resilience and strength in face of marital abuse.
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the most deeply inspiring books I have ever read. Samra's courage to tell her story is incredible. A read for everyone.
thereadingowlvina (Elvina Ulrich)
A harrowing yet inspirational memoir of Samra Zafar, who at 17 immigrated to Canada as a teenage bride in an arranged marriage. Due to cultural expectations and practices, and the promise by her future husband that she will be allowed to further her studies in any universities in Canada, Samra finally acquiesced to her parents' wishes for the marriage. However, her dreams and hopes were shattered when the marriage turned abusive and she is living in constant fear - fear of her husband or leaving ...more
Colline Vinay Kook-Chun
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When I began reading this memoir, I did not know much about child brides, arranged marriages in Pakistan, or about the culture described in the book. I had seen women dressed to show their cultural background while walking the streets in Toronto, but had never really thought about the life they may lead behind closed doors. This memoir was an eye-opener for me. Zafar exposes not only her own experience and the loss of her dreams and innocence, but also the experience of so many women who have ...more
Lynn Vaillancourt
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Based upon the real life story of Samra Zafar who immigrated to Canada for an arranged marriage that turned abusive. Although heartbreaking it is also a story of resilience and courage.
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really appreciate Samra sharing her story
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm sort of embarrassed to admit that I had heard about this book and felt a little dismissive, partly because it was so "popular" (that was snobby) and partly because it would most likely be difficult to read. Then I realized that I should freaking well make myself read it, because reading it wouldn't be a millionth as difficult as living it, and having a reminder that this kind of thing still goes on far too often is no bad thing. It is hard to read, of course - you go from being gutted with ...more
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A huge decision is made for 16-year-old teenager Samra by her parents. They have chosen a man for her to marry that is 11 years her senior and she is very concerned that her wishes to go to university and find her independence will be dashed. She reluctantly agrees to go ahead with the marriage and finds herself in a stifling situation, with a very critical mother-in-law and father-in-law that hold her back from doing anything she wishes to do, and isolate her. Her husband is loving at the start ...more
Diwali L
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Such a necessary book, anyone who has experienced any kind of abuse can relate. The author's strength shines through - this must have been difficult work to write. A painful but incredibly necessary read in order to understand why we and others put up with all that we do - and an invitation to forgive ourselves and understand our past motivations. This is not a story that makes leaving abusive situations easy - it is a memoir about what leaving abusive situations is really like, and how ...more
Aly (Fantasy4eva)
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I haven’t read a book in a long time, much less reviewed one, so when I stumbled upon this author and her heartbreaking story I knew I just had to give it a go. Originally I was only supposed to read a few pages. These days my one year old munchkin keeps me and my hands full, but god knows I was hooked and somehow I read this book within two days. The more I read about Samra and her story the more I became sucked in.

As a Muslim with parents from Pakistan some of what I read wasn’t exactly
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
".. the fear of isolation can be positively debilitation. After all, we are in this world for connection. As human beings, that is our basic need."

In this memoir Samra eloquently shares with readers some of the most pivotal moments of her young adulthood. Samra doesn't shy away from sharing how her childhood and innocence was robbed from her due to circumstantial and cultural reasons. Her words are powerful as you read through the pages and try to understand the complexities of her story.
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A heartbreaking yet inspiring true story. Absolutely loved this book,and learnt important life lessons. Samra Zafar has penned a brutally honest memoir that will leave you feeling shaken as well as empowered in equal parts. She keeps back nothing ,and that makes her story all the more real and brave. Her story brings to light how a seemingly happy marriage can turn sour and dysfunctional within a matter of few months; how young girls are tricked into marriage with hollow promises and ...more
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was deeply moved by Samra's inspiring, courageous story. While her experiences may be those of millions of women, not everybody is able to escape the way she was able to.

The proximity of our lives is uncanny. I was growing up in Mississauga at the same time as Samra was living there, potentially even quite close to her based on her descriptions in the memoir. I too am of South Asian descent, a first generation immigrant. I too finished my undergraduate degree in Economics around the same time
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, canlit
Rating: 3.2 / 5

So far, there are two kinds of autobiographies that I've read, this one included: those that tell of things so shocking that they make me sad, and those that tell of something that feels so real that it pisses me off.

This autobiography was of that latter variety, in that everything that's happened to Samra makes me mad, as well it should any modern-day woman.

The fact that the places she's speaking of are places that I'm familiar with, real places that I can relate to, is even
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's hard to imagine being married at age 15, but Samra Zafar left her family and friends to be in an arranged marriage and eventually live in Canada, with the goal of attending university. This memoir explores the male-imposed tradition of arranged marriages and being asked to wear a hijab, while the author reveals her abusive relationship with a power-hungry husband and difficult in-laws. She also describes a heart-breaking discovery of her father dying suddenly. I also appreciated these words ...more
Tiana Kayemba
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was very eye opening. It followed the story of a young girl forced into marriage in hopes of achieving her dreams, but instead receiving abuse from her husband and in-laws. It was a book I would recommend for anyone, especially girls of all ages. The book showed how true injustice can happen to anyone, and no matter what happens, you always have to keep moving forward and follow your dreams. Samra Zafar bravely told her story to share with the world tramatising experiences. She is ...more
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Captivating. I thought about this book constantly when I wasn’t reading it! It was amazing. A display of willpower and resilience and endurance and forgiveness and the atrocities of a fallen, destroyed culture and world. Samra is an overcomer. She should be proud and feel confident in her decision. The book deserves its 5 stars as a memoir of a woman in an abusive relationship and how she overcame it. The only thing that could have made this story more powerful would be to see the healing power ...more
Darlene Stericker
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read that fully explores the dynamics of an abusive partnership. Zafar is brutally honest as she recounts her long struggle to break free of this relationship. Many times she is her own worst enemy as she returns yet again, but she never hesitates to divulge all of the struggles she encounters. My happiest moment when reading this book (and there were many) occurred in the epilogue when a Pakistani father wrote Zafar to say that he had cancelled the arranged marriage of his young ...more
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A gripping story of a young woman who overcame the social conditioning of a culture and family that rated her as a second rate citizen and a piece of property.

Samra finds her strength in love despite not receiving it in return. She uses education as a route to freedom and changes her life. Breaking the cycle of abuse in her own life and the lives of her daughter's.

This is such a inspirational tale of surviving abuse Teaching us all to be grateful for our basic freedoms and the transformational
Nancy Smith
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
An autobiography of a woman struggling to accept her arranged marriage that saw her married to an abusive man with domineering parents. Samra Zafar was only sixteen when she married her husband and moved from her parents to Canada. There she gave birth to her two daughters, worked and tried to complete her education. With determination she managed to save her life and that of her own daughters. I really enjoyed reading of her journey to freedom but was frustrated as well with her family's ...more
Sheila Illes
May 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I finished #agoodwife in two days! Such a great book and I totally empathize with @samra.zafar01 and through her words and story.
The book is about the Samra’s life in an abusive arranged marriage. However it is not as stereotypical as one would think. The book addresses the many complexities of #southasian culture and intricacies of family as part of a marriage.
I would honestly give this book 5.0/5.0 and it may be because I am also of South Asian background that I really felt I could connect
Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing book. I could not put it down. Its as personal as it gets and shows extreme courage in her life journey and the moments of triumph amidst the harshness of the abuse. I cannot help but admire how she changed her life around for her daughters and herself and how she gives hope to victims of domestic abuse which often is misunderstood not only by the victims but also by those who are not the victims.
Jane Mulkewich
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An important story to be told, and also a well-written one. Samra Zafar has already begun sharing her story prior to writing this book (in the media and by public speaking) and has already been an inspiration and a provider of support for many women who feel trapped in abusive marriages; showing them that it is possible to get out. I hope that as many Canadians as possible read this book; highly recommended.
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