Aisha Rashid has always felt invisible, so no one is more surprised than her when Darren, the hot new boy in school, takes an interest. But Aisha is a devout Muslim and Darren is firmly off limits. Will she follow her heart even if it means losing her own identity? If only there was a way to keep the boy and her faith. Maybe there is… all it takes is ten steps…
Ten Steps To Us is a heartwarming coming-of-age story that follows sixteen-year-old Aisha, a Muslim girl who’s living in Kent. It explores Aisha’s identity, her religion and friendships.
I’ll be honest and say that I don’t tend to pick up books outside of British and American culture, so this was eye-opening for me learning about Muslim culture. Aisha is the only Muslim girl in attendance at her high school and I can’t begin to imagine how alienating that must be. Aisha wears a hijab to show the world that she’s proud of her religion, but it highlights how little people in the UK understand that, as Aisha has to deal with abusive comments on a daily basis. While some parts of the UK have embraced different cultures, Kent is not one of them, and this shows we still have a long way to go to accepting other religions.
Aisha also doesn’t have anyone her own age who she can confide in and no one to support her during fasting and I was shocked that her best friend, Isabelle, didn’t make an effort to understand her religion more. I didn’t understand why they were friends. Isabelle wasn’t very supportive or encouraging with Aisha, and she didn’t even know when she was fasting. Plus, when Aisha told her, she tried to get her to break her fasting by having a drink. I felt like someone who’s your best friend should make an effort to learn more about your religion and be more supportive of it. Those who Aisha could speak to about it were her parents and family friends, but it was hard for them to understand what Aisha was going through and I thought they were a little harsh at times. You have very different experiences compared to your parents and need someone your own age to confide in. I felt sad that Aisha didn’t have another Muslim friend she was close with.
The only one who made an effort to understand Aisha’s religion was Darren, which was probably one of the reasons why Aisha developed feelings for him. Aisha is a realistic and relatable teenager as she’s very naive and acts impulsively. When she becomes closer with Darren, she decides to set out ten steps to convert him to Islam, because that’s the only way they can be together. It shows how young she is and how you don’t quite understand the world when you’re that age.
There’s a lot of moments when Aisha’s questioning who she wants to be and she starts to question her own faith. Aisha’s struggle with her identity throughout felt very real and it was a very thought-provoking read at times. I’m sure in some situations I’d make the same or similar decisions. It was interesting to see Aisha learning more about her own religion and how proud she was to be Muslim. The ending of the story holds promise for her and you can tell how much she’s grown since the beginning of the story.
Ten Steps To Us is a compelling and thought-provoking read. It’s one I’ll be reaching for again and I look forward to reading more of Attiya Khan’s books.
A huge thank you to Literally PR and Hashtag BLAK for sending me a copy of this book for review and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour!