Review – Finding Jamilah and The Story of Yusuf | Raidah Shah Idil

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  • Title: Finding Jamilah and The Story of Yusuf
  • Author: Raidah Shah Idil
  • Publisher: MyLegacy Publications
  • Publication Year: 2013
  • Pages: 133


Finding Jamilah

Jamilah Henderson knows three things: her mother is invincible, her hamster can’t stay still, and no matter how much she tries, she won’t fit in. When tragedy strikes her family, her world turns upside down. Will she heal the twenty-year rift between her grandparents and her parents? Finding Jamilah is a story about love, identity, and the gift of forgiveness.

The Story of Yusuf

“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment, and especially on their children, than the unlived life of the parents.” – Carl Jung.

Yusuf Mohamed is in his final year of high school, and the stakes are high. The pressure is on for him to excel, and to be the doctor that his father always wanted him to be. Truth be told, Yusuf doesn’t want to be a doctor. He wants to be the opposite of the medical or anatomical; he wants to be a poet and explore metre and rhyme. How will he reconcile his dreams and his father’s?

With Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Eid al-Fitr) around the corner, I’ve been involved in loads of discussions among fellow bookish friends along the lines of – How many books should I bring back to my hometown?  What books/ebooks should I read? So this review is dedicated to helping you guys sort this out especially if you’re looking for something more local (Malaysian), short and meaningful to read.

Finding Jamilah and The Story of Yusuf are two novellas compiled into one book. Both stories have similar themes – family, love, relationships, and identity.

In Finding Jamilah, you will be following Jamilah’s journey to Malaysia to meet her grandparents and relatives for the first time after her mother left the country to marry a man they did not approve off. The quest for reconciliation is both heart-warming and interesting to read, shedding light on a common yet less talked about issue in society today, mixed marriages.

In The Story of Yusuf, the author writes on Yusuf’s struggles to speak out and follow his dreams – to become a poet. With his father constantly reminding him to study hard and become a doctor, his life is a roller coaster of emotions, trying to find his voice to express what he really wants to do in life.

Both plots are very easy to follow, interesting and engaging. Coupled with clearly-defined characters, this was certainly an enjoyable read. However, I do wish the author paid a little bit more attention on the plot progression. There were times when I felt that it lacked description and connectivity which is why I am struggling with the overall rating.

Having said that, both are really great family stories with good lessons to learn from on relationships, sacrifices and cultures. They are very light too, making it a fantastic choice to read in the car ride back to your hometown or in between visiting relatives!


Muslims all around the world will be celebrating Eid al-Fitr this week to mark the end of Ramadhan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. Selamat Hari Raya from @heyitsbookishme!


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