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First Comes Marriage: My Not-So-Typical American Love Story

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  663 ratings  ·  141 reviews
A candid, heartfelt love story set in contemporary California that challenges the idea of what it means to be American, liberated, and in love

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 fir
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published November 13th 2018 by Prometheus Books
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Average rating 3.62  · 
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 ·  663 ratings  ·  141 reviews

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I'm not Muslim, but I grew up in a pretty conservative Orthodox Jewish community and there are SO many cultural similarities. The constant threat hanging over your head since your early teens that if you don't behave exactly the way they want, you won't get married or will only be offered low-quality men; the double standards for girls and boys; the attempt to marry girls off as soon as legally possible; the hypocrisy of preaching modesty in dress because our religion doesn't focus on superficia ...more
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Huda Al-Marashi’s memoir of her engagement, marriage and early married life shows how the pressures of religion, customs and family brought from a patriarchal homeland by immigrating parents bear down on their American offspring.

Marriage was a feature of her childhood play. Her mother and her religion spoke of its importance. A high academic achiever in high school, she easily absorbed the courtship rules for girls. Marriage was a given, an ideal. Without it her life was doomed. If a girl waite
Britta Böhler
It was very interesting (and educational) to read about the concept of love and marriage from the perspective of an Iraqi-American Muslim.
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: e-books, audiobook
This could have been a 4⭐ but the author was...something. I'm fasting so I'm going to be nice and not say any more right now. 😂 ...more
Apr 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting culture and religious clash memoir for an arranged Huda's "eyes" marriage.

The first 60% was a 4 star by my rating for depicting reality of her life cores and also for my reading enjoyment factors. Her type A personality energy and flamboyance in most everything she does in her earliest years, and her parental relationship stories- all of it was fun and easy read. Prose average and also at the same time brutally honest, IMHO. I give her a whole star for that aspect alone. Oh you can
This is one of those books that's hampered by its title. First DOESN'T come marriage; first comes the story of the author's childhood. Which is interesting, but not what I expected when I picked up the book.

And I'm not convinced it's a love story either. She seems to come to appreciate her husband, but I'm not sure she ends up liking him. Also in the acknowledgements, she says "This book has made him [her husband] privy to thoughts no spouse should ever have to see let alone share with the world
Allison Anderson Armstrong
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some words I came across in other people's reviews of this book are "witty, interesting, sweet, poignant, and honest," and all of them perfectly describe this book. It was nothing overly-dramatic (probably because it was real life) or metaphorical, but I loved the author's clear simplistic way of telling her story while seasoning her "not so typical" romance with her sense of humor. I did feel pretty bad for her husband and felt like my "romance story" with my husband had a few similarities - me ...more
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately alot of this book is about immature expectations of marriage and whinning about not having it your way. On the positive side I appreciate the facr he finally grows up at the end and sees all the blessings she really has and always had. I wish there had been more positivity but this is her memoir.
This is the story of Huda Al-Marashi's marriage. Who she married, how and why she got married, her expectations, her family's influence and culture and her decision to push through and try to fix things. I am impressed that she decided to open herself fully because she comes off as very unlikable and naive. And it's hard to blame her as the first part of the book she is actually a kid who is acting her age and is trying to juggle understand her Muslim and Arab identity while also being around so ...more
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books about love and marriage that I've ever read. Al-Marashi is so honest in revealing her true priorities and feelings that it's almost painful to read at times. As she dives into a marriage arrange by her Iraqi parents during her first year of college, she is more often than not swept off of her feet - not by her husband-to-be who is a tad lacking in the social skills department - by her own ideas of romance and the lore around love that she has absorbed from her mothe ...more
Mandy Copeland
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
Definitely rounded up. I was very interested in the subject and learning about an arranged marriage but this was not worth the time. It was like being stuck in a nail salon hearing some else complain about their life and being forced to listen because you just had to get a manicure. All she did was whine about evvvverything! I kept thinking a big revelation was coming but it never did.
DNF at about 90% but counting as complete because I suffered long enough
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Hilarious, adorable, honest account of a coming of age as a third culture Iraqi American girl. Al-Marashi is a brilliant writer -- whose congeniality shines through the a tale of of unrealistic and girlish expectations in a quest for love. Authentic, disarming, and relatable.
Shannon Davis
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Awful. Author was very whiny, immature, and selfish. It was hard to like her and so it was hard to like the book. Only reason I gave this two stars is because I enjoyed learning more about Muslim culture.
My review can be found here. ...more
Liz Breazeale
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in three days because I couldn’t put it down. It’s smart, honest, heartfelt, and deeply, deeply engrossing; I could list more positive adjectives, but truly, read this memoir.
The book is well written. I can't say I liked her too much. ...more
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written different kind of love story. ❤
Kathleen Helms
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this true story about an Iraqi first generation American (Californian) woman named Huda. I've worked with a few Indian people who have had arranged marriages, and have often wondered about that. A couple of them have left work for two weeks, gone back to India to get married, and then been back at work before you knew it. They seemingly had their whole lives changed in the blink of an eye. Little did I know they may have known the person they married since they were six years ol ...more
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it
I heard the author speak before reading her book and found her to be very engaging. I had mixed feelings on the book itself. Although I expected the challenges in her marriage to be directly caused by the cultural and religious basis of the marriage, the issues seemed to more directly related to the immaturity and overly romanticized expectations of the author when she entered the marriage. While she attributes the expectations to a Western pattern for courtship and marriage, her ideas seem to s ...more
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
"A memoirist must make countless trade-offs between what moments to include and exclude, and this very deliberate negotiation creates its own version of the truth."

"American culture extolled autonomy and personal power, but it accepted and even embraced complete helplessness when it came to love."

"I had no idea that growing up was not so much the process of accruing a career, spouse, home, and child, as it was this particular journey to reconcile what you dreamed of with what you got."

Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I know the author personally, as her husband was the best man at our wedding. He was roommates with my husband in college and they played hockey and went out for late night tacos together for years before marrying their respective spouses. Huda and he flew to Chicago from their temporary home in Mexico to be with us, and drove us from the reception to our hotel. Their kindnesses to us continued through the years as they hosted us and our children at their homes in New York City ...more
Mar 07, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I’m happy to see more Muslim authors writing about “real life.” However I feel like there’s still some ways to go before I find an engaging and well written book that covers this topic of real life. The only book so far that I felt did a very good job was A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza. My complaints about this book are similar to the ones I had for Amreekiya by Lena Mahmoud. Just like in that book, the main protagonist, Huda, was really hard to like. I understand that she got ...more
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I enjoyed the beginning a lot, and loved getting an inside look into a family and culture that are so different from my own. It became harder for me to relate to the narrator over the course of the book, though. I don't understand the search for the perfect date, the perfect moment, the perfect wedding. It was easier for me to sympathize with Hadi, because I am quiet in similar ways myself. I was so relieved when she began to see her family more as individuals and became more thoughtful about he ...more
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
An interesting and informative insight into a different culture's approach to marriage and love. I must admit though, given its description by many reviewers as "witty, charming, delightful" and the like, I expected something a little more lighthearted and involving a little more falling in love when I'm promised a love story (just one that starts rather than ends with the couple getting married) and not quite so much palpable frustration, disappointment, resentment and misery on the part of the ...more
Apr 23, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a brave book, what with it being a memoir as well. I got to have a peek into what unfolds in the life of a promising and bright girl's future because of incorrect messaging by parents and the wider culture. I did feel sorry for her, but also angry at her at so many points in this book. She has thrown herself a pity party through about 95% of this book. Regardless of how I felt, she lived through it, and being able to introspect and document that is not a small feat! ...more
Shalini Singh
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quest of an Islamic girl to have an American love story. A memoir about navigating Iraqi and American cultures when it comes to career, relationships, dating, and marriage.
A beautiful but not-so-typical American love story by the author.
Honoree Jeffers
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, empathetic rendering of a unique love story. I know it sounds cliché, but I truly could not put this down!
Amelia Ray
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this look into a culture and religion vastly different from my own. A memoir that reads like fiction is always appealing to me too!
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
I loved the idea of this book and found the concept of arranged marriage fascinating. But honestly, it felt like the entire book was just her complaining about how she was too good for her husband.
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
3.5 stars!
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Huda Al-Marashi is the Iraqi-American author of First Comes Marriage: My Not-So-Typical American Love Story. Excerpts from this memoir have also been anthologized in Love Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of Muslim American Women, Becoming: What Makes a Woman, and Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women and Extreme Religion.

Her other writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the LA Times, al Ja

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