I Am Thunder Review (Guest Post: Charlotte, Somewhere)

This post is from Charlotte, Somewhere, a contributor to nosaferplace. Charlotte is a wife, mother, cocker spaniel owner and someday Queen of the Universe. She can almost always be found with her face in a book and a coffee in her hand. She likes writing, knitting, crafty things, baking, eating, walking, taking photos and nurturing a close relationship with her sofa and blankets.

I Am Thunder is the highly anticpated #OwnVoices story of Muzna Saleem: British. Pakistani. Muslim. Her parents are strict in their traditions and moderate (but extremely opinionated) in their religion. They have very strong opinions on how Muzna should live her life. They want her to be modest and obedient like a traditional Pakistani woman, but educated well enough to be a doctor in a modern British society. Muzna is conflicted. She wants to be a writer, to bring stories of ordinary Muslims and Muslim heroes into the world: to show others what being Muslim means to her.

Her father was a very well-written and strong character in the novel. At times his strictness and his anger made for uncomfortable reading (when he forces her to stop talking to a close friend despite her own feelings, my swinging-brick heart nearly broke for her), but ultimately it is clear that he wants his daughter to have all the opportunities that he hasn’t had. He wants her to be a doctor so that her life can be comfortable, and she will be respected.

Then she meets Arif and they become involved. Arif and his brother Jameel have different views on what it is to be a Muslim, and Muzna is drawn into their world.

Muzna’s confusion about her own feelings is clear throughout the story. The pressure she is under throughout the novel to be the perfect daughter, student, friend, Muslim and partner is unbelievable and her strength in trying to be all these things whilst trying also to be true to herself and find her “own path to God” is admirable. She activated my mother instinct and I wanted so much to reach into the pages and give her a hug.

Muhammed has written a story with a really authentic and engaging voice. The plot is gripping, and you are drawn into Muzna’s world and find yourself worrying for her and hoping that everything will turn out alright. I read this in two sittings and it was almost impossible to put down.

I Am Thunder is one of those stories you can’t easily summarise, because to do so will give away the plot and ruin the story. I will say that there are themes of racism, grooming, radicalisation and terrorism, as these could be triggering for some. It is brilliantly written, engaging and thought-provoking. It is a novel that everyone needs to read.

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