A PLACE FOR US BY FATIMA FARHEEN MIRZA, NARRATED BY DEEPTI GUPTA, SUNIL MALHOTRA
A Place for Us is, perhaps, most well-known for being the first book published under Sarah Jessica Parker’s imprint, but I know it as one of the best family-focused stories that I have ever read. Focused on an Indian American Muslim family, A Place for Us examines the depth of familial ties and what a single family can weather over time. I finished this audiobook in bed at four in the morning, tears streaming down my face as I tried to quiet my sobs so I didn’t wake my spouse next to me. This might seem like an odd way to recommend a book, but trust me, if you love family sagas, you will LOVE this story.
THE MOOR’S ACCOUNT BY LAILA LALAMI, NARRATED BY NEIL SHAH
Set during the 16th century in what is now North America, The Moor’s Account follows a Moroccan slave forced to join a Spanish expedition intent on exploring the New World. Perfect for historical fiction lovers, this novel examines who gets to tell their story. Neil Shah’s performance swept me away into the past, beautifully capturing The Moor’s Account’s first person narration.
FIRST COMES MARRIAGE: MY NOT-SO-TYPICAL LOVE STORY BY HUDA AL-MARASHI, NARRATED BY JEED SADDY
In her memoir, Huda Al-Marashi tells the story of her arranged marriage, challenging Western ideas of love and relationships. But she doesn’t let her youthful self off the hook either, sharing how her arranged marriage worked for her and how it didn’t. Narrated by the ever-talented Jeed Saddy, I found this memoir incredibly thought-provoking and a beautiful portrait of marriage.
A PURE HEART BY RAJIA HASSIB, NARRATED BY ARIANA DELAWARI
The story of two sisters, two marriages, and two countries, A Pure Heart shows us the interactions of Rose and Gameela’s family, how they grow apart, and how they find each other again. Ariana Delawari’s narration completely sucked me in, and I found myself sitting in the car an extra 15 minutes so I wouldn’t have to stop listening. This novel is definitely a must-listen for any book lover obsessed with family stories.
THE BIRD KING BY G. WILLOW WILSON, NARRATED BY ELMIRA RAHIM
Written by the author of Ms. Marvel, The Bird King is part adventure story, part folklore. In the book’s first few chapters, Fatima and her best friend Hassan flee the Spanish Inquisition in search of the Bird King, a mythical being said to rule over an island where they believe they will be free from the violence of the Spanish Empire. Full of magic and perfect for those seeking an escape from our current hellscape, The Bird King is a comforting story I can’t wait to listen to again.
WHICHWOOD BY TAHEREH MAFI, NARRATED BRONSON PINCHOT
I’ve previously mentioned Tahereh Mafi’s Nevermoor, but the sequel Whichwood is by far my favorite of the two. Set in a world where the dead must be put to rest before they turn into zombie-like monsters, Whichwood captures the cold, sinister world of the dead, but with Mafi’s clever world building and vibrant imagination. Brilliantly narrated by Bronson Pinchot, Whichwood is perfect for readers who like a touch of darkness with their fun and fantastical middle grade novels.
MORE TO THE STORY BY HENA KHAN, NARRATED BY PRIYA AYYAR
In this middle grade retelling of Little Women, four Pakistani American sisters navigate the struggles of middle school life in Norcross, Georgia. Through their father’s move for work, a sister’s illness, and boy trouble, these sisters learn that they are each other’s greatest allies and supporters. Combined with Priya Ayyar’s stellar performance, I was left in tears by the end.