Review by Layla Abdullah-Poulos
HIS OTHER WIFE
$25.99, 286 pp, Paper; $9.99, Kindle
Normally, I have a strict policy against reading books longer than 300-350pp, and an author is pushing it the further away from 300pp a book gets. I am a product of my society, and if you can’t tell me a story by 300pp, then I am not interested.
Umm Zakiyyah’s His other Wife is an exception. She kept me riveted to the development of main character Aliyah as well as her best friend/nemesis Deanna and love interest, Jacob. Each character was deliciously flawed, and I continually vacillated between loving them and just wanting to wring their necks.
A rare find in American Muslim romance, Umm Zakiyyah also conveyed layers of sexual tension in a love triangle full of ardent and dysfunctional desires. Although she could have let the bedroom door creak open a little further, she did an excellent job compared to other Muslim authors who write romantic scenes and often fall flat. Unfortunately, there is a lot of that in the genre, and His other Wife is a refreshing divergence from the fear of expressing sensual chemistry and sexual dialogue between romantic characters, which is something I am increasingly seeing from African American Muslim authors.
The spiritually reflective content and focus on Islam as a deen (as opposed to a cultural identity) with which the characters navigate their lives is another prominent feature in books written by African American Muslim authors. The characters embraced the varying influence that Islam had on their lives, and moments of internal and outward spiritual contemplation was refreshing, demonstrating how many American Muslims prioritize the faith.
His other Wife is a long book well worth the read!