Book Club: Promising Azra

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Author: Helen Thurloe
ISBN: 978-1-76011-327-8
RRP: $19.99

Promising Azra is an interesting and insightful look at a completely different culture. I was a little apprehensive going in and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but what I got was a captivating tale of life for a Muslim family in Sydney.

Arranged and forced marriages seem like they should be things of the past, and I actually did think they were much less common in Australia now than they once were. I remember growing up we had neighbours who arranged marriages for their sons and even then I couldn’t completely grasp it, the partners were arranged though it was left to the couples when they actually married and for the younger son it was quite late. I still can’t quite get my head around having a husband chosen for me, especially while still at high school.

In Australia girls under 18 are still being forced into marriage, often being taken from the country for this to happen. Forced marriage is not practiced in a certain culture or religion, it affects many diverse backgrounds and to ensure the practice is stopped it needs to become more widely known and the true stories of those affected need to be heard.

Promising Azra is a work of fiction, the characters are all fictional but their experiences are based on true or possible events and I think this is important info to have going in.

Armed with all of this I was still a little unsure what I was getting myself into and I anticipated quite a heavy read, I thought it would be a book that took me quite a while to get through. I was wrong! I was quickly completely immersed in the story and read it in a couple of sittings.

It has been a VERY long time since I read Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta but this resonates with a similarity. Perhaps it is just because it focuses on a different culture and how difficult it can be for teens to be true to their heritage and culture while also trying to fit in at their Australian schools. That’s not what I’m trying to say but I can’t find the right words to express what’s in my head, it’s that general idea though.

Azra Ajmal is a smart and talented sixteen year old girl attending a diverse multi-cultural girls high school. Chemistry is her strong point and that shines through every aspect of the novel. The chapter headings are chemistry terms, with their meanings, and where possible everything is compared to chemical reactions. At one point she translates a phone number into elemental numbers and I thought it was just brilliant, but chemistry was never my strong suit.

Azra knows that there will come a time she will be promised and a marriage will be arranged for her, this is something she has expected her entire life. Her hope is that she will first be able to finish high school and hopefully even study at University before that time comes. She hopes that even if she is promised she can postpone the wedding until after her studies, and her parents have always seemed quite supportive of her academic achievements so she thinks she might be in with a shot.

Starting Year 11 Azra is looking forward to her last two years of high school and hoping for university to follow, little does she know that everything is about to change. Already there is a girl in her class planning her wedding with gusto but Azra just wants to focus on school.

An interschool science quiz sets into motion a series of events that may change the course of everything. Azra, Bassima and Vanessa receive awards at the school assembly for their results in the Smart Science test. Awards that see them entered into a national science competition, and Azra thinks her biggest challenge may be getting parental permission to participate.

Promising azra

Promising Azra is the story of Year 11 for Azra, but more than that it’s the story of her entire family. Mother and Father indebted to Uncle for all of his assistance getting them relocated, housed and employed in Australia and his ongoing support in family matters; Azra’s older brother Rashid who seems to be rebelling against his cultural expectations as well and often taking it out on Azra; and youngest in the family Soraya who is still only very young and innocent of all that is going on around her but still feels the tensions quite strongly. As well as the family we learn a little of Azra’s best friend Bassima, who is also muslim but whose family life is very different and also very similar to Azra’s.

Thurloe tells an insightful story of sixteen year old Azra’s desire for an education, her passion for chemistry and her reluctance to enter blindly into the arrangements her family have made. The strict familial restrictions and expectations placed on her to be a good daughter, always be obedient and to help out a lot around the house. She is studying Year 11 so she has lots of homework and study to do but she needs to pick up her sister from school every day and do a lot of the cooking and cleaning at home. Her social life is extremely limited, except where they are familial occasions.

I think one of the biggest things for me was the huge contrast between the expectations of Azra and the behaviour of her older brother Rashid.

Thurloe’s characters are well developed and her storyline is solid, the tension and the pacing were engrossing and Azra’s struggle was captivating. I was pretty blown away by the last third of the book and found it quite heartbreaking to think that girls actually go through this, I can not even begin to imagine. They were certainly not things on my radar in Year 11.

My only real issue with Promising Azra is the ending, I would love to know what happens next – for all of them.

Promising Azra is a stunning debut novel and if Thurloe’s work only gets better as she hones her craft then she will definitely be one to watch.

Helen Thurloe can be followed on her Website and Twitter.

Promising Azra is available now through Allen & Unwin and from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Allen & Unwin 25 of our Beauty and Lace club members will be reading and reviewing Promising Azra so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments. I can not wait to hear what our readers thought of this one.

26 thoughts on “Book Club: Promising Azra

  1. “Promising Azra” is, without doubt, one of the most brilliant books I’ve ever read. Helen Thurloe’s DEBUT novel has woven fictional characters with terrifying reality into a novel that forces you to think about issues most Australians can’t possibly imagine in this “enlightened” age.

    I have never personally encountered any traditions, which some people try to pass off as religion, which harm young women. I can though, relate completely to Azra, a highly intelligent girl from a Muslim family, through her love of learning and wish to continue her studies once she completes her HSC.

    Azra is in year 11, an excellent chemistry student, who wants to do what is right in her family. It is beyond belief that her older brother who is in trouble with the Law, is given more benefits than Azra at home. She is expected to do far more on the domestic scene and collect her younger sister from school daily. Her domestic duties, as far as her parents are concerned, far outweigh her studies and homework. Even a very prestigious award is not considered particularly important.

    Her Father’s brother rules the families and makes decisions without anyone being allowed to, or prepared, to question. With the help of other more liberated Muslim friends and the School Counsellor, Azra is given options which can stop the forced marriage planned for her.

    The way the story evolves and comes to conclusion is so sensitively written and handled. This is a book that will resonate with me for a very long time.

    Thank You, Beauty and Lace, for introducing me to this wonderful book. Thank You, Helen Thurloe, for this sensitive, beautifully and powerfully written work and Thank You, Allen and Unwin for having the courage to publish something potentially controversial. Very few novels have affected me as deeply and I feel incredibly privileged to have been introduced to such a brilliant work.

  2. Promising Azra is a must read as it sensitively deals with the difficult themes of arranged marriage, traditional cultural binds and the family expectations of second generation migrants growing up in Australia.
    Azra is a smart 16 year old girl who loves chemistry and just wants to be like any other Australian girl. She wants to go to University but in a second generation migrant family who is ruled by the Uncle who assisted in their relocation; she is just a Muslim girl who must do as the family asks and expects of her. The dynamics of the family are very well developed and it interesting but not surprising to find Azra responsible for looking after her younger sister and doing far more home duties than her older brother, who is allowed so much freedom.

    Although fiction the expectations, the restrictions and the struggles that Azra and her family face are very real for a Muslim family wanting to live a traditional life in Australia.

    It is one of those books similar to “Looking for Alibrandi” that opens your eyes and makes you stop and think about life. It should be on the school curriculum for all high school students.

    Helen Thurloe has written a sensitive powerful story and one that will stay with me for a long time.

  3. I absolutely loved “Promising Azra” by Helen Thurloe.
    It deals with the hard subject of arranged marriage and living a traditional Muslim lifestyle in modern Australia.
    It is a very current topic at the moment and this book gives a great insight into young Muslim women growing up in Australia today.
    16 year old Azra is an intelligent young women wanting to pursue a career , while her Uncle wants her to follow tradition and have an arranged marriage.
    To her family her place in in the household but she wants so much more from her life.
    I believe the book was written in a culturally sensitive way and we could all learn something from it .
    It makes me think of how hard it is for not just Muslim families but families from many different cultures , to adjust to our “Western” way of life .
    It is not for me to judge whether they should and I believe that “Promising Azra ” will make people think a lot more about the subject as well as enjoying a wonderful fiction novel.
    Thankyou Beauty and Lace and Allen and Unwin for allowing me to read and review this highly enjoyable novel.

  4. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Promising Azra is Helen Thurloe’s debut novel; it is written with such sensitivity, and told so well.
    The main character is 16-year-old Azra Ajmal. She is a Year 11 student of Muslim background, residing with her family in Sydney. She loves to study and is very passionate about chemistry, and dreams of attending university after completing high school.
    But her plans to further her education are thwarted when she learns that her family is arranging for Azra to be wed to a much older cousin in Pakistan.
    When Azra discovers this, she is understandably terrified and tries to find a way to fulfill both her dreams, and that of her family’s.
    But will that be possible?

    There were many times throughout the book that I felt so sorry for Azra, but I admired her determination and courage.
    Many times, Azra gets treated unjustly by her family.
    It’s totally different for her older brother Rashid though, who is still respected by his family after his many transgressions. Her younger sister Soraya is an adorable character, very innocent and a lovely addition to the story.
    Azra is responsible for picking her up every day after school, and for most of the cleaning and cooking too.

    To a certain extent, I felt for Azra’s parents. They wanted a better life for their children, and with the help of Azra’s Uncle Zarar, they were able to achieve that by coming to live in Australia. He arranged their visa’s, job opportunities, and accommodation. However, Zarar is controlling, and has the final say about all family matters. I wish they would’ve stood up to him a bit more, but their hesitation was warranted.

    Although it is a fictional book, there are many cases of arranged marriages still occurring in Australia presently.
    Helen Thurloe describes the Muslim culture well, and I enjoyed reading about their traditions in the story. I would’ve loved the ending to be a bit longer to answer a few more questions, but perhaps Helen can write a sequel?..

    This book is targeted at young adults, but many adults will enjoy it too. I highly recommend it as this book bought the topic of arranged marriages to light, in a respectful and entertaining way.

  5. I wasnt sure what to expect when I first started reading this book. However all in all it is a story about a young women who has such strength, courage and determination to live a good life that you bond quite quickly with her.

    I learnt so much about the concept of arranged marriages, the trials and tribulations, the process, the realities that until now just wasnt on my radar.

    In saying that, this book is so much more than the actual act of getting married. Family politics on so many levels is explored, and whilst I thought there was going to be some challenging of authority from Azra’s parents there wasnt. I am not sure if I am disappointed about this (would have been a predictable story line if they had) or applauding Helen Thurloe for ‘keeping it real’ – I am still working that one out.

    I enjoyed this book, it was a very easy book to read with understandable characters which were varied and stimulating. Helen Thurloe’s writing style has an easy flow to it and is colourful in its descriptions.

    Certainly a book that I would recommend for anyone wanting to explore life in a different culture or to share a similar experience with.

  6. Thank you for choosing me to read Promising Azra by Helen Thurloe,
    This book is beautifully written about the sensitive subject of arranged marriages which being Australian is a strange concept to me
    It made me realise how hard it must be for the children of other cultures who come to this country, whose parents still believe in their traditional ideas, as well as the extended family who have a huge influence on what decisions are made within the family group,
    This book is suitable to a wide range of ages and I will be passing on to my granddaughter to read, her father is from overseas but nothing like Azras family,
    I throughly enjoyed reading this book and I would highly recommend
    Thanks

  7. Promising Azra by Helen Thurloe,

    this book is well presented Helen has a unique style and has capture the raw essence of
    how hard it must be for the children of other cultures, whose parents still believe in their traditional ideas, how much the extended family has huge influence on what decisions are made within the family group,
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I will be sharing it with the book club at my local library so they to can enjoy it as well

  8. I was looking forward to reading this book, and it certainly did not let me down, in fact I was literally glued to it for the weekend…. It must be very difficult for other races to come and live in different cultures, and this book covers the story or actually stories if you stop and think about it, of how the tight knit part of a family can have the influence over the whole… we in australia, have not always been subject to this, in fact I am lucky that I was allowed free choice….. I can understand where in one part of the book it talks about the amount of divorces that occur with other races, and yes I do have to agree that is happening all the time…. but I would not lke to get into any argument, that having a husband picked out for you by your family, is more lasting… I think it depends on the people… My mother said to me the only advice she could give me on getting married, ….. remember you are two different people, coming from two different families, with probably different upbringing, and it is a lot of give and take to have it work…. I now have to agree that ….. that was very sound advice…. in my set of circumstances anyway… The book handles the problem, for one family set up, and was handled by the author, Helen Thurloe very delicately….. and fantastic reading about a young girl who is given a mighty difficult set of circumstances.

  9. HI,

    Promising Azra was not at all what I was expecting. I thought it was more about the life of a young girl after her forced marriage and was preparing myself for some thoughts/scenes that I would not be able to easily forget I usually shy away from uncomfortable topics but thought that this book would also broaden my horizons.

    . Instead I got the mind of a young,16 years old, who had the same ideals and dreams as any young 16 year old. Granted her life outside of school was different and what an insight that was. Brilliantly written , I am sure the writer must have lived that life or had someone close in such a situation to get such detail.

    I am very glad that I did read Promising Azra. I think any girl of any denomination should read this for a variety of reasons. To see that their life is not so hard, that others lead different lives, that there are other options to what you believe is your fate, that life can change by your choices alone, that you dont have to follow the norm, that you can be yourself, there are many life lessons you havent learnt.

    Thank you so much for the opportunity.

  10. “Promising Azra” is a very realistic young adult novel, set in Sydney. Azra is sixteen, a keen science student, and a dutiful daughter of Pakistani immigrants. She knows her family will eventually want to arrange a marriage for her, but she believes she will be allowed to choose from a number of candidates, and that it won’t be until after she has finished university. When it becomes clear that her family has a very different idea of her future, Azra is torn. She may or may not be willing to accept the marriage they have in mind for her, but she definitely doesn’t want it now. Neither does she want to lose her family.

    One of the things I really liked about this novel was that Azra herself wasn’t sure which path she wanted to take. So many books have heroines who are very sure of what they want and what path they want to take; I found it very realistic that Azra knew what she wanted in terms of her education, but was very conflicted about her broader path.

    Most young people will have a lot of sympathy for Azra. Who hasn’t felt forced to do things they don’t want to, because of family expectations? Who hasn’t chafed under unfairness, perceived or real? Who hasn’t found it hard to know when to dig in their heels and make a stand for what they want? Azra’s choices may be harder and more clearly life changing than most, but young readers will quickly empathise with her.

    This was both a really powerful novel about a young person facing tough choices, and a sensitive novel which highlights some of the cultural conflicts and differences experienced by immigrants and their children. It doesn’t make judgements about right or wrong, except in the suggestion that Azra should be given choices about her own life. It will, however, give a lot of readers a new appreciation of the challenges these cultural differences can create.

    This rang true to me – it reflected some of the conversations I’ve had with immigrant friends about the difficulties of reconciling their birth culture with the one they’re now living in. The characterisation is strong – Azra and her family are completely recognisable and understandable, regardless of the cultural trappings.

    Although aimed at young adults – and well written for that audience – this is also a novel which is likely to be enjoyed by an adult audience. Strong characterisation and an interesting plot are its’ main strengths, but the sensitive exploration of an important social issue is no small thing.

    I enjoyed this, and I’ll be recommending it to friends who ask me for suggestions for what their kids or teens might enjoy.

  11. Promising Azra is a book about torn loyalties told from the perspective of an amazing 16 year old girl. The story’s eponymous protagonist is an intelligent, ambitious and determined young woman who wants an education while her family feel indebted to her uncle and decide to adhere to an old cultural practice of arranged (and forced) marriage. This book is an important one that highlights an issue that most people would have thought was dormant but is in fact affecting many young people today.

    This novel is the debut one from the award-winning writer, Helen Thurloe. The story is fictional but it is based on real-life events. It is obvious that Thurloe has completed lots of research for this because the whole thing feels quite “real” and raw in parts. It will also leave you empathising with the main character.

    Azra has a few things in common with Josie Alibrandi in Melina Marchetta’s Looking For Alibrandi. Both girls are studying at high-school. The two girls are also searching for their identity in contemporary Australia while also negotiating the influence of their heritage and culture and its impact on their teenage lives. In Josephine’s case the stakes weren’t very high but Azra’s is a different story. The latter is faced with a forced marriage at the humble age of 17. If Azra agrees to this arrangement then she will not realise her academic dreams and the marriage will be one that makes her family happy. But if she refuses then she can receive an education but the cost will mean that she is cut off from the people that she loves.

    Promising Azra could have been a very intense and dry book. But Thurloe has done a fantastic job of telling a good story in an engaging way. She has also dealt with some tough issues in a sensitive and direct manner. Azra is an excellent character that you will instantly warm to and her conflict and struggle is utterly engrossing. This book is essential reading for anyone that wants to know about familial traditions and obligations and the hard choices that some of us are forced to make. In short, it can be quite heart-wrenching stuff.

  12. What an amazing book.
    From Beginning to end I really enjoyed this story. Set in Sydney, not far from my home is the story of Azra a high school student that is torn between being a good daughter and her own desires for her life. A fascinating insight into a culture I know so very little about. My heart broke for Azra and all the girls in her situation.

    I have passed this onto my mother who works at a school very similar to Azra’s and unfortunately this is too common an occurance.

    Such a thought provoking book and really quite sad in parts, it is an absolute must read.

  13. Firstly, Thank you to Beauty & Lace for choosing me to review this book.

    Promising Azra is a beautiful and well written book and about a teenage girl who struggles to live a “normal” teenager life in the new country she now resides in.

    She has moved from Pakistan to Australia and her family still want her raised in the true Pakistani way of life.
    She like many other young adults have dreams and ambitions and those close to her are adamant to stop her living the life she desires.
    This is a heart breaking novel which tests on many occasions bonds and relationships within religions.
    My heart went out to Azra on many occasions.
    I have also purchased a copy for our school library and the student and myself read it together and discussed many interesting aspects of customs, traditions and religious beliefs.

  14. Promising Azra is a wonderful novel which powerfully explores issues of religion, family, loyalty and arranged marriages in modern day Sydney. Azra is a wonderfully strong, caring and determined character who I warmed to easily. I was blown away and at times quite distressed by the stark contrast between the high expectations and limited freedom afforded to Azra compared to the complete free reign of her brother Rashid. And the thought of being forced to marry a stranger nearly twice my age? I can’t fathom such a concept. I found the difference between Azra’s family dynamics which were strongly influenced by their obligations and indebtedness to Uncle and those of Bassima’s being far more relaxed was fascinating also.

    I feel fortunate that my family has supported and encouraged my education and ambitions, as I will my own children. However, Promising Azra makes it clear that this is not always the case for young women. Let alone the freedom to choose your own life partner. An eye-opening story which will no doubt become popular young adult and adult fiction and a valuable addition to any school library.

    Thanks to Allen & Unwin and of course Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review Promising Azra, a wonderful, and I believe important, debut novel.

  15. Sometimes we forget that there are families in this World that operate in a totally different way to our own. We tend to think that everyone is raised pretty much the same way although some parents are a little more strict then others. Promising Azra reminds us that this is just not so. There are young girls out there that have to deal with the horrible battle of going against their family and most likely being cast aside and bringing shame upon their parents who they of course love and dont want to let down or they do as their family wish and by doing so they must cast their own hopes and dreams aside.
    Reading Promising Azra unearthed a memory that I had from my own childhood. I remembered a girl who I had gone through school with. She was very prim and proper. She was very smart and top of the class in almost every subject. At age 14 she announced that she had a boyfriend. A boy that her Mother had decided would be her future husband. She was to be married at age 16. I often wonder what happened to her and if she went along with her families wishes or did she break free?

    Promising Azra is a great read and one that is good to pass on to your young teens. Not only will they enjoy the book but it might also make them feel thankful for the life they have and the struggles they dont have to face.

    Very thought provoking and certainly worth a read.

  16. I read this wonderful book with my three daughters, each night. The girls and I absolutely loved it and it was a good eye opener for my teen to realise that not all kids are as lucky as her. We felt Azra’s emotion and passion throughout the book.
    Reminded me that even though as women we have come a long way, there are still cultures that are very far behind. It also showed there is a huge difference in what is cultural and what is religion.

  17. A beautiful book about raw emotions of a culture I knew little about. There were times I couldn’t put the book down and other times I didn’t want to read the next chapter. Azra, so young but so mature and learning the hard way that family ways are different. It opens your eyes to happenings and feelings of individuals in the same family, dominance of some and acceptance of others. Friends who try to help and systems in place when needed. I really felt for Azra and her parents, her younger sister and even perhaps in a way her brother. Didn’t like the arrogance of Uncle.
    I am saddened but glad the story evolved as it did and it has opened my eyes to what is still going on around us – of that I am sure.
    Please let there be a story of Azra moving on, how she has dealt with losing her family during this period of time, what transpires for her and her future.
    Thank you Helen Thurloe for this raw but amazing story.

  18. Promising Azra is a book that I found was quite quick and easy to read as it wasn’t particularly text heavy but it was very interesting. I liked that the chapters were short so I could easily fit them into my day, and I finished the book in a week which is very quick for me. While I thoroughly enjoyed the read as an adult, I also think this book would be perfectly suitable for young adults too.

    The story is fiction but based on true stories of Muslim girls. The main character Azra is a 16 year old girl who is striving to finish her college education and continue to university but her family’s expectations and plans for her life are quite the opposite. I thought it was very unfair that Azra’s older brother was treated so differently to her, and sad that it was only a matter of time until her younger sister is in the same situation she is in. I felt sad for her parents who were majorly driven by fear of her uncle who had control over all of them but I wished they could stand up to him as you could see deep down they didn’t fully agree with his decisions.

    As I read Azra’s story I was quite shocked by some of the cultural differences between Azra’s life and my own, and it’s astounding that girls in Australia actually go through these situations more often than we would ever imagine. I think this story is a real eye opener, and it’s an educational read that everyone would benefit from. My only criticism is that I found the ending was a little abrupt because I really wanted to know what happens next. There is quite a lot that could continue so my only hope is that there may be a sequel!

  19. ‘Promising Azra’ by Helen Thurloe is an amazing YA novel that is a fantastic read for everyone. The story is set in modern day Sydney about a 16 year old Pakistani girl, Azra, who moved to Australia with her family when she was 12. She is a great student who loves science and would love to continue her studies at university. Unfortunately her family, mainly her uncle, has other ideas. An arranged, (forced) marriage. ‘Promising Azra’ is a very powerful story that highlights some very contemporary issues many young girls from different cultures face. Forced marriage is a reality, even today.
    Helen Thurloe has definitely done her research here, not just with the issue presented but also with the title of the book as well as the chapter titles , all science/chemistry terms that also give us an idea of what’s to come in the chapter.
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book even though it was heartbreaking at times.
    Congratulations Helen Thurloe on a wonderful debut novel and thank you to Beauty and Lace and Allen & Unwin for giving me the opportunity to read such a wonderfully written novel.

  20. Promising Azra is by far the best novel I have read in a long time! Beautifully written by Helen Thurloe, I was drawn right from the beginning.

    It saddens me to think that forced marriages still happen – and in Australia!!

    The main character Azra, is a sweet and very bright young girl who is close with her family until the unthinkable happens. She is forced out of her own will to marry a cousin from Pakistan. Throughout the novel, we feel her pain and emotion over what is happening and she does what she can to stop the wedding – even at the expense of her own family. The ending is bittersweet (and I won’t say anymore!) but I wish I could keep reading more.

    I was on edge for most of the novel just wanting to know what was coming next. The characters overall were well developed and described and her Helen’s writing was so easy to follow and understand. A lot of research was done and I appreciated the author’s note at the back further explaining the stats behind forced marriages in Australia and the real impact it can have on young women.

    I’m still shocked to know that it still happens and my heart goes out to all the young women who have to go through this without their consent – even though families insist it is tradition and part of their culture.

    Beauty & Lace and Allen & Unwin, thank you so much for the opportunity to read this stunning novel. I immensely enjoyed and look forward to reading more of from Helen Thurloe.

  21. Thank you letting me review this book it is a book definitely worth reading. Helen Thurloe is a great author who writes creatively about a sensitive subject.

    The main character is Azra a 16 year old keen science student who is looking forward to going to uni one day. However Azra is living in Australia with her parents who are second generation migrants form Pakistan.

    Azra is a muslim girl who must obey traditional customs, Her family is ruled by an Uncle with no questions asked. Caught between wanting to continue her studies and living her life by family tradition.

    I found this book very powerful and thought provoking, it comes highly recommended.

  22. Promising Azra

    This book is very well written and I found myself thinking in a whole new way about teenage loyalties and the place of tradition in Modern Society

    The chapters are nice and short (not to say they are information lacking) so that helps keep focus on what is quite a compelling story that highlights many many cultural/social issues still in todays society without making you feel like you are reading a history book

    I currently have a “tweenage” step daughter, when She is a little older I would love her to read this book to gain perspective on how different her life is to how it would have been if she was born into another culture. I honestly think all teenagers should read this!

    I can only hope there is a sequel to this story, I hate not knowing what happens next and I found the ending to be quite sudden and too open ended for my liking

  23. Im sorry for late review Have been unwell did read book within 3 days of arriving > Written extremley well , very thought provoking and showing how hard it is for girls in particular of a different race and culture to have to live between 2 worlds.. I do love the fact that Azra shows respect for her parents but sad that still today arranged marriages are still done with not always the girls happy consent.Have to say that some marriages also happen within our own culture which are not always welcomed by the girl .The saying she had to get married is hurtful and is unfair as some girls are not ready for marriage should be able to make their own choice . I enjoyed the book and will pass onto my grandaughters as they need to know about other cultures and the reasons and thoughts of others

  24. I really enjoyed this book. It was so easy to read and I think the biggest take away I got was that no matter what our religion or culture we are all very much the same. I loved the characters and found it very relatable because it could have been a teenager of any high school in Australia. It definitely made me more tolerant of Muslims because I never understood them. I think that Australian’s can be racist but it stems from ignorance and not having education or awareness of how or why the dress and act differently. My favourite character was Azra”s friend Bassima who behaved like any boy crazy teenager from Australia. This would be a good book for younger people because it was very down to earth and made every person an individual no matter the colour, creed or background.

  25. An insight into a culture and traditions . Scary but true, Arranged marriages and this debut novel shows awareness about the struggle of culture and growing up within these.

    The story was not my type of contemporary but certainly was put forth well and given us insight.

    DNF.

  26. Even though it is well over 12 months since I read “Promising Azra,” it remains one of the most wonderful books I’ve read. So much to think about, I would love it to be on the compulsory English reading list for the HSC!!
    My review after reading is at the top of this review list. A wonderfully and sensitively written book that will remain in my top favourite reads for a long time. It is an exceptional book in my opinion.

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