The Marvelous Mirza Girls / Sheba Karim / Book Review


Ever since the death of her aunt, Noreen Mirza has felt tetherless. She can't focus on graduation. She can't focus on college. Worst of all, she can't write.

When Noreen's mother Ruby gets offered a temporary position in New Delhi, the girls jump on the offer. A gap-year away from routine and grief may be just what Noreen and Ruby need--and it will allow them to fulfill Sonia Khala's dream of visiting Delhi, too.

In a vibrant and vibrantly-polluted city, Noreen meets a young and handsome artist named Kabir, who shows her the charm and magic of this ancient, complicated place. With Kabir's help, Noreen begins to see the joy in life again. She starts to find her voice. But when a family scandal erupts, Noreen and Kabir find their new relationship on rocky footing. What does it mean to love someone? What might happen if love vanishes?



Gilmore Girls Vibes Quick, sharp, and whip-like in delivery, this book reads exactly as you'd expect the script of The Gilmore Girls to read. Mother-and-daughter banter abounds, but the similarity doesn't end just with witty dialogue. The worldbuilding and writing style match pace-for-pace. While this type of writing is bound to be an acquired taste, it is also a nostalgic taste. Adding Noreen's attempts at script-writing only enhances this page-to-screen feel.

Positive Muslim Representation From devout Sonia Khala to dabbling Noreen and Ruby, the Muslim representation in this book is wholly positive. This is not a book about being Muslim. It is not a book about facing persecution due to religious identity--though such persecution does get discussed. The Mirza girls are simply Muslim, to various degrees, and that affects their lives but doesn't dictate their story. Refreshing and well-rounded, this is the type of representation we need more of in YA and in general.

New Delhi Love It is clear that, for all the drawbacks, author Sheba Karim loves Delhi. Her descriptions are vibrant and, at the same time, grounded in reality. Including the AQI at the start of each chapter characterizes the city as much as the ancient ruins, elephants, and congested traffic. This book balances well a love for what India is and has been and a nostalgia--if that word is right--for what India was and could be, the current state of affairs in mind. This book doesn't ignore terrible pollution and religious hate, but it doesn't let these characteristics overwhelm the color, the incense, the sizzling street foods. All these contradictory characteristics are included this book, creating a unique backdrop for this contemporary YA piece.


Though this is mostly a problem at the beginning, it did make for a rocky start. The narrative is fast-moving and doesn't rely on long-winded explanations for anything. While this is in some ways good, it also has its drawbacks. The opening pages were a little like getting introduced to the entire cast of Stars Hollow without the accompanying episodes to flesh out the characters and make them real. A volley of names, faces, and vague descriptions akin to "nosy neighbor" and "best friend" makes for a rough introduction to the world. While I found it worthwhile to push through, others may not be so persistent. Too Many Names

Noreen is obviously grieving. The plot in many ways revolves around her grief and her ability to find a new mode of existing--that is, coexisting with her loss while moving toward her future. Though grief plays a major and important part in Noreen's life and the plot, the descriptions of Noreen's grief sometimes feel hyperbolic. Though death and grief are extreme, the descriptions exceed realism at times. Extreme Negativity

It makes sense that this book features languages other than English. Hindi and Urdu make appearances regularly in the text, but they are often included without the requisite context clues to help uninitiated readers understand. When including necessary dialogue in a language other than the rest of the text, it may be helpful to give some indication in the writing as to the precise meaning. I applaud the inclusion of these other languages, but I wish I hadn't needed to pull out my translator so often! It ultimately took me out of the story. No Context Clues



Fans of mid-2000s stories of love, friendship, and sororal support such as Ann Brashares's Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants are likely to enjoy this contemporary coming-of-age book. Anyone who enjoyed the intermingled travel and romance of Abigail Hing Wen's Loveboat, Taipei should check out this new story of self-discovery.


Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Date: May 18, 2021
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


  1. I love the Gilmore Girls, but I don't know how well that would translate to the page. Interesting...


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