Maleeha Siddiqui is an American Pakistani writer who enjoys telling unapologetically Muslim stories for people of all ages. Maleeha grew up and currently lives in Virginia. Maleeha’s day job is as a regulatory affairs professional in the biotech field. Siddiqui’s debut novel is Barakah Beats.
Bhai, for Now, is a Parent-Trap inspired middle-grade book featuring twin boys Ashar and Shaheer. Shaheer and his dad are constantly on the go; wherever Shaheer’s dad ends up working. Shaheer stopped believing he could find someplace to call home and just stay put for a while. Ashar and Shaheer are polar opposites. When they meet on Shaheer’s first day of school – the resemblance is uncanny. It doesn’t take them long to realize that they’re twins, separated at birth. They’re willing to do whatever it takes to get to know the missing parent even if it means swapping places. This is a book about two long-lost brothers who hate each other, but also realize how much they need each other.
Siddiqui’s Bhai, for Now, is a heartwarming book. This novel discusses hard topics such as divorce, rivalry, family, and identity in the South Asian community extremely well. This book is set in Northern Virginia. This book avoids the unrealistic parts of Disney’s Parent Trap movie but still captures the essence of the original plot while being able to stand on its own. Ashar is similar to Hallie because they are both outgoing. Shaheer is similar to Annie because he’s the more reserved twin. Their Dada-grandmother and cousin Zohra add more depth to the story. This book also includes one of the twins playing hockey which is a sport I know nothing about but this book does an excellent job of letting the reader know what’s necessary to know about hockey.
This book includes halal food, praying Jummah at a masjid, reading Qur’an, and volunteering at a masjid which is what made this book feel like the Muslim representation I’ve been yearning for. This book does not focus on a love story but focuses more on the importance of family. As an American South Asian Muslim, this book is everything my younger self would have adored. This book discusses Jinn, Pakistani dramas, and songs. It’s incredible to see more South Asian Muslim books written by South Asian Muslim authors that have fictional characters that openly discuss what it is like to be a practising Muslim. I would love to see more fictional books where the Muslim characters actually practice their religion and are not a Hollywood white-washed version of Muslim representation. More books like Bhai for Now!
This book is uplifting and charming. Maleeha Siddiqui’s recent novel feels like the perfect addition to a classroom library or to give anyone who loves The Parent Trap. The parents are more likeable in this version. The twins are a lot of fun to read about. Maleeha writes Muslim characters who practice their religion and I cannot wait to see what she writes next.
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Amani Salahudeen is a writer whose works have been published on Muslim Girl, Brown Girl Magazine, TCNJ’s Her Campus, Pop-Culturalist, The Tempest, and other publications.