Author: Huda Fahmy
Publisher: Andrews McMeel
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 stars
Purchased or Received Copy: Recieved copy via netgalley
Huda Fahmy tells the story of her arranged marriage in That Can be Arranged. I didn’t know what to expect at all when I saw the title. Thankfully, Fahmy explains from the start the difference between an arranged marriage and a forced marriage. Islam prohibits the latter, not the former. Admittedly, I had an incredibly outdated notion of the concept of an arranged marriage. I pictured a pairing made without consulting the bride or groom, set up from childhood whether they like it or not. That was not what Fahmy describes when she described the process by which she married her husband. That was what drew me to That Can be Arranged: it’s a first-hand account from someone who had an arranged marriage and it went well. And as both someone interested in learning about other cultures and a hopeless romantic, I dove in.
The first thing that Fahmy makes sure the reader understands is that she had a say in her marriage every step of the way. She initiated contact with the man who would later be her husband, getting help from a sheik to get his family’s contact information. She hung out with him (with chaperones, as solo dating before marriage is not allowed in more traditional Muslim circles) until they realized that the match was a good one and that they should get married. Fahmy then proceeds to essentially write a gushing love letter to her husband. And I loved it.
If Fahmy was trying to get the reader to fall as deeply in love with Gehad as she clearly is, then she sure did it. I loved the Jane Austen-esque parallels to her own love life. I loved both her and Gehad’s unashamed geekiness. And despite the honey-coated sweetness of the love story, Fahmy’s message is this: if your idea of love is different than the norm, that’s fine. She met Gehad at an age when some in her circle would consider a woman beyond hope of marriage. She realized that she didn’t need to find a perfect man, she needed to find her companion. And there was something so refreshing about a love story so unashamed to talk about when love just doesn’t go like we expect.
That can be Arranged is full of heart and so much more than what it initially appears to be. The art style is simple and does what it needs to, but the writing is the book’s strength. It’s a sweet story that is good for a quick read and one that I’ve already re-read.