Book Review: This Way Out

Review: This Way Out by Tufayel Ahmed

Released (UK): 1st July 2022
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Rating: 4/5

I picked this up via Amazon First Reads for free and read it via my Kindle. It’s listed under Gay Romance and I haven’t read anything under the Romance genre for years, if not nearly a decade. I was pleasantly surprised and immediately pulled into following the story of Amar. I finished the book in about 4 days, which is quite quick for me and I feel this reflects how much I enjoyed the story and its ease of reading.

The story starts with Amar announcing to his family via WhatsApp, that not only is he engaged but plans on marrying man. Coming from a fairly strict Islam family the news is not received well and the story follows both Amar and his family coming to terms with his identity.

Whilst ‘This Way Out’ is under the ‘Gay Romance’ genre on Amazon, I do not feel this is a romance novel in the usual sense. This is not a story about falling in love but rather the character learning to accept his identity and dealing with the fallout, as well as the emotional damage, of hiding his true self for so long. I suppose if anything it is a story about self-love & development, coping with loss and managing relationships both with family and with partners.

The point of view is first person and we see the world through the eyes of Amar. Whilst I found his character engaging and relatable, I felt he was the only character given any real time to. We got glimpses into the other characters in his life but I never felt the story delved any deeper. This wasn’t an issue for the majority of the story except, for me, when it came to his fiancé, Joshua. I didn’t feel any particular connection to him and didn’t feel any great yearning for Amar’s and Joshua’s relationship to succeed, bar wanting Amar to be happy.

I found the pacing of the story good, with a balance of difficulties arising and Amar learning how to cope with these differently than he would in the past.  As someone who suffers from both depression and anxiety, I could relate to the behaviour and unhealthy coping mechanisms Amar had developed from a young age. There were several moments I just wanted to give the character a hug and a few moments, I had to restrain the tears in my eyes (the hazards of reading in public).

I had no knowledge of being a Bangladeshi-descended Muslim and I felt this story gave a great insight into Amar’s culture and how it felt for him growing up and living in Britain. It handled moments of discrimination well, demonstrating how some behaviour can be harmful even if it is not intended to be or no matter how much it tries to pretend to be innocuous. I also felt it handled the issue of reconciling sexuality with religion in a sympathetic manner, without casting condemnation on those who could not accept it.

The Ending:
The only area I felt the story was lacking was its ending. I felt it was rushed and was far too focused on being a ‘happy ending’. There were successes that, to me, seemed forced and unrealistic. I would have preferred some of the issues to still be ongoing and the focus to be more about how Amar now handles them rather than them simply being wished away. Perhaps my view is because this not my preferred/usual genre and perhaps readers of it expect a rosy conclusion? (I’m unsure, mainly because most of the books I read involve people/beings dying in not a particularly nice way.)

On the whole I enjoyed ‘This Way Out’ by Tufayel Ahmed and I was glad I decided to opt to read something new. I would even say that it has encouraged me to try more of the same, as it was a refreshing change. I just hope that any similar books I choose will be as well written and as easily consumed.
I would recommend this book to readers of romance but also fans of other genres as I feel it touches upon topics beyond romance and is an accessible story for many. Plus, I feel this book has taught me that maybe once in a while, we should put down our preferred genres and opt for something new; you never know, you might just be pleasantly surprised like I was.

Published by kaelawalker

30-something aspiring writer on the West Coast of Scotland. Inspired by nature, beautiful Scotland and my journey coping with physical and mental illness.

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