First Comes Marriage: My Not-So-Typical American Love Story by Huda Al-Marashi [in Booklist]
Writer Huda Al-Marashi and narrator Jeed Saddy make their respective debuts in a captivating memoir about a marriage that’s not so much arranged but destined. Al-Marashi is 6 when she meets Hadi, the son of family friends. She’s 9 as she watches him pretend-wed her 4-year-old sister and decides that “this would be the moment I’d say I first fell in love with him.”
While upholding the cultural traditions in which she’s raised, Al-Marashi still dreams of Hollywood-indoctrinated romantic love. Devoted Hadi can’t possibly measure up. By 21, she’s “facing the monotony of married life without having known the wooing that was supposed to precede it.” And yet she perseveres – as does steadfast Hadi – until true love solidifies their union.
Saddy readily embodies Al-Marashi, navigating between giddy expectations, debilitating disappointment, and earnest determination. Her familiarity is no coincidence – Saddy is Hadi’s older sister, who officiated Hadi’s preteen mock wedding. Marriage, indeed, proves to be a family affair.