Soul of a Butterfly Paperback – 30 Jan 2014
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While the story is humorous and lighthearted, it also addresses serious and compelling issues such as the purpose of existence and comparative religious theologies.
Katie's heartwarming experience contrasts the hollow reality of a life of material excess with the freedom and fulfilment of life as a practising Muslim.
This story will undoubtedly captivate teenagers and remind many others of the immense blessing of Islam.
Review by: Rumaysah Bint-Muhammad
Well done Safaa, you should be very proud!
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
As I read the chapters describing Katie’s struggle with accepting a newly converted father, I wished Baig had painted the struggle in more detail. While the reader was told that Katie felt like her life had been turned upside down and she couldn’t find any sense of peace, I found myself unable to sympathize with her; I did not truly feel like I had a window into her emotions. Many of the times when Katie was crying, I couldn’t really understand why.
The author’s innocence resonates throughout the story; the perfect outcomes to difficult situations are simply unrealistic. The main character seemed to simply snap out of the internal struggle which had her in tears for weeks. Just as quickly as she overcame her hesitancy with Islam, she became interested in learning more about it. It’s true that people undergo changes of mind and heart, but these changes are usually within a span of years, not just a few weeks.
My personal experience living as a young Muslim woman in a country where Islam is not the major religion has shown me that few of my non-Muslim friends have any connection to Islam. In Baig’s novel, however, almost every minor character had a family member who was a convert. This, again, is a very utopian perspective.
When Katie decides to open her mind to Islam, she has a conversation with one of the ‘closet’ Muslims at her school. During this conversation she learns about the proper, acceptable interactions between men and women. Shortly after this conversation—before she even discovers the very basics of what it means to be Muslim—she decides to separate herself from her best friend, who happens to be a male. She hadn’t even fully accepted Islam, and she was already turning away from an Islamically questionable relationship. This was extremely unbelievable; giving up platonic guy/girl friendships is quite possibly one of the most difficult struggles young Muslims face, and here was this girl who was merely learning about Islam, doing it very simply and without any signs of an internal conflict.
Overall, I would rate Soul of a Butterfly 3 stars out of 5. Women twenty years my junior—those closer to the target audience—may appreciate the novel even more. Its language is clear, yet poetic. Baig does a wonderful job of developing each character and giving each character her own distinct voice. The daily dilemmas and conversations between characters are easily heard and true to life. I look forward to reading more from Baig; not only is her being published at such a young age an inspiring accomplishment, but her potential truly shines through in this novel.