Book Review: Things She Could Never Have by Tehmina Khan

Disclaimer: I received this book as a generous gift from the author herself, Tehmina Khan, in exchange for an honest review. This gift in no way influences my opinion or review.

Things She Could Never Have by Tehmina Khan is a collection of short stories.

It came into my life at the perfect time. I’m starting to think more critically about the types of books I have on my shelves. This is especially in terms of diversity. The founder of @theunreadshelf project on Bookstagram set a February challenge of reading and talking about more diverse books. When this happened, I had just received Things She Could Never Have for review.

Here’s the beautiful cover of this book:

I love how creative it is!

And here is the synopsis of Things She Could Never Have from Amazon:

“Accomplished, sensitive, and often disturbing, these stories take us into the lives of modern Pakistanis?privileged and poor, gay, trans, and straight, men and women, in Karachi and Toronto. “Whisperings of the Devil” takes us into the mind of a mistreated maidservant’s boy who gets seduced into the role of a suicide bomber. In “To Allah We Pray,” two privileged and educated young men, one of them home from Toronto, gallivant through the streets of Karachi, finally walking into a doomed mosque.

“Things She Could Never Have” is a love story about two young trans women living in Karachi. “Born on the First of July” opens the door into the home of a Toronto girl who has left to join ISIS and the devastated family she leaves behind. “The First” will astonish many readers by its depiction of sexual encounters of young college girls in Pakistan. These and other stories link us into the complexities of a sometimes troubled and often misrepresented Muslim society.”

Finally, here’s my review of Things She Could Never Have!

Traditionally, I haven’t been a fan of short stories. Normally this is because I find they make me angry. My whole life, I’ve battled with my own preconceptions that literature shouldn’t make you angry. I am a person who likes the plot of stories to be tightly tied in a bow at the end, à la “and they both lived happily ever after.” Normally, I find that short stories purposely subvert that narrative trope, and I don’t usually enjoy it. This opinion has not changed since reading Things. However,  Tehmina Khan’s stories made me angry, sad, happy, and thoughtful, and frustrated, and I LOVED IT.

These stories are well-curated windows into worlds I have very little knowledge or understanding of. They are each about modern Pakistanis. They are set both in Karachi and Toronto. The characters encounter difficulties I have never had to even imagine, and they do it with grace and resilience. The language is poetic and illuminating. It opened my eyes to whole other perspectives and experiences. It was magical.

Other awesome stuff:

Some of the stories’ plots connect. I LOVE it when short story collections do this. In this case, it’s never overt. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I love the delicate way in which some of the narratives end up being about the same characters, in small but important ways.

Overall, 4.5/5 stars.

Some of the phrasing felt a little confusing at times. I also wanted a bit more depth in some of the stories. However, those are small things. Overall, I LOVED these incredibly heartfelt, shocking, and heartbreaking stories of love, life, and loss. It is a collection full of diverse stories. Racially, sexually, religiously, in terms of class and gender, and more. It left me wanting so much more. Plus, the author is a Canadian female POC, and she is originally from Karachi, Pakistan. I highly recommend reading this book!

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus

Book Haul: Boxing Week 2017!

This is my first blog Book Haul post, so here’s the deal:

Bookstagram members are, once again, likely pretty familiar with these. However, for those of you who aren’t, any time we get books in the mail, which we call Book Mail, we like to share what we’ve gotten. Usually, if it’s at the end of the month,  or for a particular event or time period (like Black Friday or Boxing Week), we call it a Haul.

So, without further ado, here’s my Boxing Week Book Haul, which I’m over the moon about!

It was so big, it came in three different packages, the last of which arrived Monday this week.

Now, here’s a list of all the titles and links to their Amazon pages (and my blog reviews, if they’re up already):

Dark Tower 1-3 Boxed Set – Stephen King
Sapiens & Homo Deus Boxed Set – Yuval Noah Harari
Journey Through A History of Magic – British Library
Just Little Things – Nancy Vu
Furiously Happy – Jenny Lawson
The Female of the Species – Mindy McGinnis
Talking as Fast as I Can – Lauren Graham
Commonwealth – Ann Patchett
A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sara J.  Maas
Fierce Kingdom – Gin Phillips
Helium – Rudy Francisco
Depression & Other Magic Tricks
Our Numbered Days – Neil Hilborn
Adultolescence – Gabbie Hanna
Chasers of the Light – Tyler Knott Gregson
The Alice Network – Kate Quinn
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Hardcover House Editions) – J. K. Rowling
The Child Finder – Rene Denfield
Quiet Girl in a Noisy World – Debbie Tung
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Magpie Murders – Anthony Horowitz
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
whiskey words & a shovel volumes I-III – R. H. Sin
Dear Ijeawele, Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie
My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward – Mark Lukach
Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over – Bleuel

Evidently, I dove into this haul pretty quickly!

I have already read Dear Ijeawele…, Astrophysics for People in a Hurrywhiskey words & a shovel IQuiet Girl in a Noisy WorldAdultolescenceHeliumOur Numbered DaysDepression & Other Magic TricksChasers of the LightJust Little Things, and Journey Through A History of Magic. Phew!

I think that the next book I’ll be reading from this haul is The Child Finder. It’s been all over Bookstagram, and I’m in the mood for a bit of suspense.

Finally, other things I’m really excited about:

I’ve never read any Stephen King before. However, I saw the Dark Tower movie and really enjoyed (a lot to do with Idris Elba, but also to do with the storyline!), so I think the Dark Tower books might be my gateway into reading Stephen King!

Also, I’ve never read any Agatha Christie books either. I didn’t particularly want to see the movie, because it wasn’t rated very highly. And it has Johnny Depp in it. But the story really intrigued me, so I’m excited to read the book! Maybe it will make me want to read more Christie mysteries, too!


Now that I’ve shared this with you, I’m off to start a reading-filled weekend!

Happy reading!

– Paperback Patronus