Book Review: Someone Like Her, Awais Khan
Fiction: Someone Like Her, Awais Khan
Blog Tour August 30, 2023
Domestic violence is not an easy topic to talk about or to write about. Authors who tackle this subject are either brave or foolhardy. Fortunately, Someone Like Her came from the imagination of someone who treats the subject with grace. Never is the cruelty minimized, never is the victim blamed, never is the culture blamed (although its influence is acknowledged). This is a beautiful, powerful book that may not be for everyone given the nature of the subject.
Awais Khan has a marvelous talent for bringing both the horrors and the beauty of humanity to light. His writing is tense, suspenseful, and also deeply moving. His characters shine even in the midst of their darkest times. In Someone Like Her, we see a master working his craft. We feel an author deeply invested in people.
Ayesha is a young, single woman living in the Pakistani city of Multan, a city with almost 2 million residents. I say young, because she is in her late twenties. However, to be a single female at the ripe old age of 27 is considered an embarrassment to her family. She lives at home with her parents, commutes to her job with a non-profit supporting victims of domestic violence (the vast majority being women), and has a boyfriend she loves and intends to marry when he is more financially stable.
One day an extremely rich man, not much older than Ayesha, comes to the charity to offer a donation. Ayesha is forced to give him the tour and talk to him about the benefits his money would bring. She does not like Raza, but in order to secure the donation she agrees to meet him for a coffee later in the week.
Kamil is a British-born child of immigrant parents, who were also from Multan. He is suddenly dumped by his girlfriend of three years, She feels he is emotionally distant and unwilling to truly open up to her. She is right.
Ayesha and Raza meet for coffee. Then, Raza begins a campaign of terror against her, insisting that she marry him, threatening her family and her boyfriend’s family, then alternatively giving them large amounts of money when Ayesha agrees to see him. Although Ayesha makes it crystal clear that she wants nothing to do with Raza, he is not a man used to hearing the word “No.” If anything, her attempts at rejection make him that much more eager to win her. Finally, though, Raza commits an unspeakable crime against Ayesha, one that changes the course of her life.
Ayesha flees Pakistan for London. Her mother and Kamil’s mother are old friends, so she stays with Kamil’s family. However, Raza is not done with her. He has spies around the world, he can afford to travel anywhere, and he is not going to let his prize escape.
Awais Khan ratchets the tension up page after page. As soon as we meet Raza, we know he is bad news. Just how bad gets revealed during the course of the book. Raza is the epitome of entitlement. Raised as a prince in a culture where money is everything, he believes that anything he wants, anyone he wants, is available to him. That entitlement, combined with the economic power he wields, makes him an extremely dangerous enemy.
Ayesha has lived a sheltered life. She sees the victims in the charity, but assumes that it can’t happen to her. Her father is a man of influence–or was, before their own wealth vanished. Her boyfriend loves her and would never act violently toward her. Unfortunately, her naivety makes her vulnerable when someone decides the rules don’t apply to him.
Violence against women has probably been a problem since before the first humans made their way out of Africa. It is a problem worldwide, not limited by culture or race or geography. The Pakistani women speak in fear of being raped or robbed or attacked on the streets of London just as much as they do on the streets of Multan. Cruel men and their enablers, which are sometimes female, can be found everywhere.
Awais Khan treats Kamil and Ayesha with generosity and grace. Even in the midst of the worst times of their lives, they hold fast. I would hope to be half as strong were I to face any of the crimes committed in this book.
Our thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things for our copy of Someone Like Her, provided so we could write an honest review. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives, check out the other bloggers on this tour.
Book Review: Someone Like Her, Awais Khan