Tried & Tested by Umm Juwayriyah is a needed and unique read in these times where the demand for diverse books is on the rise. Umm Juwayriyah, born Maryam Sullivan, is the bestselling author of urban Islamic fiction. Her first novel was The Size of a Mustard Seed. She also writes children’s books: Hind’s Hands ~ A Story About Autism, and The Princess and the Good Deed. A staunch advocate for literacy amongst young Muslim girls with her campaign #MuslimGirlsReads, Umm Juwayriyah was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and is a recipient of the Lorraine Hansberry Award from Holyoke Community College and a Spirit Award from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.
Her recently published book Tried & Tested summary on Amazon reads:
“A teenage Iman Johnson left home over a decade ago to follow behind a street loving hustler who promised her the world. When that world became too much for her to endure, mentally and physically, she found herself back in Pittsburgh, PA at her Muslim mother’s doorstep seeking refuge. But will the Muslim family and community that she’d turned her back on years ago be ready to finally accept her or has too much time, emotions, hurt, and secrets built up between them to overcome? Iman will have to find the strength to face her past and relearn the basics if she ever hopes to find the sweetness of faith Allah promises …”
Tried & Tested is a bold and refreshing read of 337 pages centering on Iman Johnson and her struggles to stay on siratal mustaqim (straight path). It also portrays tough societal problems like domestic violence, mental illness, sexual assault and drug use, just to name a few. I enjoyed the steady pace of this Muslim urban fiction novel. Umm Juwayriyah is a master in the craft of writing, masha’Allah. We get a front row view into the mind of Iman. This allows the readers to root for Iman and relate to her struggles, happiness, and sadness.
At a young age, Iman was a practicing Muslimah with a great support system: her family and the ummah of the neighborhood. This quality of hers attracted Mateo, a man who loves conservative women but is not conservative himself. This is another thing that made Tried & Tested real – very real – to me. There are many men out there who court women they don’t deserve. They say the right words and do the right things to trap young and innocent sisters like Iman. It didn’t take long for her to see Mateo’s true colours but it was too late. When she succeeds to escape from Mateo’s tight leash, she is ready to start on a clean state and remain steadfast in iman (faith). I also enjoy how Umm Juwayriyah’s books are never preachy. The faith element is there, very subtle, yet enough to make you realise that the characters take their deen (Islamic way of life) seriously with all the curveballs thrown at them. Indeed, “Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried?” (Al-’Ankaboot :2)
I recommend Tried & Tested to anyone who loves captivating stories with real characters.
Papatia Feauxzar is an American author of West African descent living in Dallas, Texas with her son and husband. She holds a master’s degree in Accounting with a concentration in Personal Finance. After working as an accountant for a corporate firm for almost five years, Feauxzar decided to pursue Accounting from home while homeschooling her son. You can visit her website at www.djarabikitabs.com