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Book Review: Fall in and out of love with “Good Intentions”

If you were as obsessed with "The Big Sick" as I was when it came out, this debut novel by Kasim Ali is definitely for you. "Good Intentions" chronicles the love story between Nur, a young British-Pakistani man, and Yasmina, a journalism student.


After hitting it off during university, the two characters naturally fall in love–yet not is all as it seems. Yasmina is a Black Muslim girl from Sudan. Nur decides to keep their 4-year relationship a secret from his traditional Pakistani parents. The novel unfolds between the past and present as Nur faces the consequences of his white lie and how his relationship with Yasmina came to be over the years.


Nur's neurotic temperament remains a constant throughout the novel–providing essential context for his actions and the consequences he later faces. It was a delight and a headache to watch a character make so many poor judgments throughout the story. Ali incorporates minor characters into the novel to hold Nur accountable for his actions and anxiety, making them necessary to Nur's journey of self-reflection and accountability.


Nur's family dynamics and his Muslim upbringing are rarities in the world of fiction. Few novels portray interracial relationships with such poignant and challenging clarity as "Good Intentions" does. With each complex social and racial issue unveiled, "Good Intentions" forbidden love is magnified in brilliance.


Ali's ability to effortlessly pack an emotional punch with pithy prose is spectacular to read. Initially, you pity Nur and his heartbreaking situation with Yasmina and his family. Still, as the narrative progresses and the years are peeled back from the present, Ali will make you hate Nur with the fervor of an ex-partner. The moments of self-reflection are written with care, but nevertheless, sucker punching you with heartache and yearning.


A thoughtful and sensitive examination of interracial relationships, "Good Intentions," will leave you wondering how Nur and Yasmina's relationship will be resolved.


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