I read these three on Kindle over a number of months but thought I’d review them together as they’re pretty light and didn’t produce very long reviews. These are all ghost-written by Ayisha Malik to Nadiya’s story ideas and feature the four Bangladeshi-British Amir sisters, most of whom live in a small town in Southern England with white neighbours and their own scattered community around them.

Nadiya Hussain – “The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters”

(7 July 2020)

We meet the four Amir sisters and laern about their lives and family. Fatima is the eldest and eats a lot of Primula cheese spread and fails her driving test repeatedly, Farah has married but something is not adding up, Bubblee has escaped to be an artist in London and 16-year-old Mae records everything on her mobile and writes a “secret” blog that you know is going to end up causing trouble.

The voices are well-done and there’s a good plot but there’s a fair amount of somewhat disappointing food-shaming from Mae (although I love her dad undermining her smoothie obsession with his own offbeat creations), which sits oddly with Nadiya’s foodie brand. I wonder if we’re going to find there’s an underlying issue with Mae in one of the other books.

I liked a lot of really small points that were popped in, like Farah’s white neighbour Alice carefully getting halal chicken in, nice little pointers.

“The Fall and Rise of the Amir Sisters”

(22 July 2020)

Set a few years after the first book, Farah is settled in a new tiny flat, bad brother Jay has a legitimate job, Fatti is settled and happy, Bubblee is reconsidering her art career and is offered a big decision by the family and Mae is off to university. Mum seems rather unsettled, though, and her amusingly told marital woes and attempts to resolve them, egged on by her hitherto unexpected friendship with a white woman, provide a light counterpoint to the really serious concerns that arise in one relationship – with a really shocking and horrible incident taking place. It gets really dark and difficult at times, while treating depression seriously, respectfully and well. Not one to read for a comforting time and if you’re feeling a bit wobbly yourself, I have to say.

“The Hopes and Triumphs of the Amir Sisters”

(22 July 2020)

In the third book, set a few weeks after the last one, we concentrate on Mae, the younger, feisty sister who was always doing her social media projects, living on celery and smoothies. She’s gone to university to do media studies and discovered kebabs and pizza, but …

Uni was going to be her time to flourish, away from the family’s fold, for her to spread her so-called wings and fly. Except it soon became clear that, out of the family’s fold, Mae wasn’t exactly sure what her role was. At university, she wasn’t so much flying as flapping.

There’s even another social media post gone viral, but this time it’s shaming her, not by her, and it erodes her self-belief even further. Meanwhile, her sisters are all bound up with their new families and leaving her out, and mum and dad’s marriage seems to have hit a new and embarrassing lease of life.

Encounters with two pivotal people she becomes close to as she tries to negotiate university life and then the summer at home with her family, as well as an unexpected animal companion, help her to work out who she might just grow up to be. I liked the issues she faced up to in this one and there was nothing too traumatic apart from a very icky scene when she’s fed a baby something age-inappropriate ….

A decent series on the whole, more hard-hitting and with less baking and more fat-shaming than I’d have perhaps expected.