Dating and marriage are significant facets of the human experience, and people around the world have different approaches when it comes to the process of finding a spouse. Some people have chosen to embrace online dating as a method of meeting potential mates, while others prefer to meet someone through a shared hobby or interest, through friends, or through their place of worship. Others decide to pursue the more traditional route of matchmaking, or arranged marriages.

The Marriage Clock, by Zara Raheem, tells the story of a young woman named Leila Abid, who dreams of Bollywood style romance and meeting her very own “Mr. Perfect.” When her parents begin bemoaning her single state, she agrees to let them arrange a marriage for her. Unfortunately, what they consider acceptable husband material doesn’t take her list of 46 “must haves” into account, and after a series of excruciatingly tedious family dates, she asks for a little time to find a suitable man on her own. Her parents agree, giving her until their 30th wedding anniversary (a period of about three months) to find a man she wants to marry without their interference. But if she doesn’t manage to meet the man of her dreams within that deadline, then the decision about who she marries will be in her parents’ hands.

I fell in love with the The Marriage Clock from the first moment that I started reading it. Leila’s story is both heartwarming and hilarious. Her experiences in the dating arena range from enjoyable evenings out to some of the most embarrassing dates of her life. She goes out on dates set up by friends, signs up for online dating, and even goes to a speed dating event. Many of her early dates are truly terrible, and I often found myself bursting into laughter at the antics of some of the men she met.

While most of the book focuses on Leila’s search for a husband, it’s also about her search for personal happiness. She is in a difficult position because she already feels content with her life, but is constantly told that marriage is something that will “complete” her. While there are some significant differences between Leila’s culture and my own, I found her an incredibly easy character to relate to, and definitely sympathized with the pressure she experiences throughout the book.

The Marriage Clock is Zara Raheem’s first novel, and I really hope that we will see more from her in the future. I would also love to see this book get turned into a movie. I think the story would translate really well to the screen, and Leila’s love of Bollywood films would allow for some unique opportunities to blend film styles.

If you’re looking for something new to read this week, I highly recommend giving The Marriage Clock a try. I did a lot of laughing as I read it and had a very difficult time putting it down. It’s a great read for anyone who has ever felt pressured to find a spouse. If you have a chance to read this book, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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