BOOK REVIEW: Tried and Tested – When a Sistah Has One Man Too Many

Review by Layla Abdullah-Poulos
TRIED AND TESTED
By Umm Juwayriyah
$17.00, pp. 340, Paper
$ 3.99, Kindle

The Johnson family’s prodigal daughter Iman returns home. She has left  abusive husband Mateo and is ready to recommit to her faith, but things aren’t easy.  Although her mother and siblings welcome Iman, not all of the members of their Muslim community is ready to accept her.

Mateo is also not quick to let his bride go. He works every manipulative angle he can to bring her back into his arms. Add childhood crush and protector Jibril into the mix, and it’s easy to understand why Iman is so frazzled. As soon as she manages one of life’s “fires,” another one pops up, and while Jibril is a big help, his determination to simultaneously impress and infuriate her is sending her into a frenzy.

Iman has herself a nice little love triangle, complete with an ex she can’t get out of her system and an old flame clamoring to get into it. She shouldn’t have time for such nonsense, what with divorce papers, backbiting, a sick mother and a sister with a black eye, but, she manages to wedge it in there and divide readers as to which man should be hers.

I’m totally Team Mateo because Umm Juwayriyah created an antagonist who is smooth, endearing and has a glimmer of redemption, which makes him saveable—maybe.  Although Jibril is indicative of the noble Black Muslim man (btw we need more of ya’ll in real life) and quintessential literature hero, some readers will want to hang onto the hope that with a little da’wah, there’s hope for suave bad boy Mateo.

Umm Juwayriyyah manages to not only provide a riveting plot, she includes a couple of subplots with characters working like  parts of a clock, keeping Iman ticking. There were a couple of unnecessary side-stories, but I get why the author included them. In addition to the fascinating layered relationship stories in Tried and Tested, she revealed an important group in American Muslim culture—African American (AA) Muslims.

African American Muslims developed a rich heritage (fusing their racial American experiences and religion) and stabilized Islam as an American faith. Umm Juwayriyah created a terrific cast of characters highlighting the vibrant AA Muslim culture and paid homage to the identity.

Many NbA African American Muslim authors use literary genres to center their cultures and produce social commentary about issues affecting them. With Tried and Tested, Umm Juwayriyah contributes to the unique and burgeoning AA Muslim literary tradition.

I strongly recommend Tried and Tested as a celebration of American Muslim culture and story about reinventing one’s self and prevailing over hardships through faith and family.

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