[Full disclosure: I received a review copy from the author.]
Synopsis for The First by Saadia Ahmed (2011) from Barnes & Noble.com:
Reena Jamil doesn’t do taboo. She’s a simple girl from a conservative Pakistani family who wants nothing more than for her to settle down and marry a nice Pakistani guy. But, unknown to her family, she falls for a white guy - something that would shock her parents. Deeply in love, yet torn over her familial duty, Reena must decide whether to pick love over obligation.
Meanwhile, her best friend, Sofia Azeem, is facing her own romantic struggles. She’s in love with her best friend from high school - but the feeling’s not mutual. Or is it?
Reena and Sofia each have soul searching to do. Should Reena choose the man she loves or accept a guy her parents would approve? Should Sofia wait for her feelings to be reciprocated or should she move on? Will each woman get a happy ending?
Its premise is a clash of cultures but The First is also a story about relationships, friendship, love, marriage, new beginnings, and most importantly, a story of hope. Saadia Ahmed’s unique cultural perspective makes this romance novella a fun and insightful read.
This is a nice, quick novella about the clash of juggling being a part of American culture while also being from an immigrant background.
Reena and Sofia seem much like every other American college student, yet they have different expectations from their parents. Reena's mom seems much more interested in marrying her off to someone "appropriate" (meaning from the same kind of background) than in encouraging Reena to pursue her studies.
I'll look forward to reading a full-length novel from Ahmed at some point.
My overall personal rating of The First is a B-.