I just finished an ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) of “The Retreat” by Zara Raheem. My first thought of this novel is that the title can be a little deceiving as the actual retreat takes place over a few chapters towards the end of the book. There is a lot more content and themes to dive into than just the main character, Nadia, heading to a wellness retreat.
This novel follows Nadia Abbasi, a Muslim American woman, as she finds out her marriage is in turmoil after she finds some suspicious photos of her husband in his home office. This sets her off to find out what is really happening. Is her husband having an affair? And if he is, who is this secret person he’s texting?
She turns to her sister, Zeba, for advice, but at first there’s a challenge—their relationship hasn’t been perfect either. Zeba and Nadia have been estranged for over a year and have had little communication since their mother’s death.
This story is just as much about Nadia and Zeba’s relationship as it about Nadia and her husband Aman’s relationship. It also touches upon undealt grief and the repercussions our childhood circumstances have on adult life. Nadia had a difficult relationship with her mother, and although she has passed, her influence on her and her decisions remains strong.
I really enjoyed the development of the story line between Zeba and Nadia and how they overcame their differences to work together to figure out what was happening with Aman. Their investigation is what leads Nadia to sign up for a wellness retreat at a local yoga studio, which has appeared to be one Aman’s latest hangouts. Aman has also recently starting working out and eating healthy—his morning green juice is a daily staple.
The journey to repair her relationship with Zeba and find out the truth of what’s going on with Aman, leads Nadia to a journey of self-discovery of her own.
One thing I wish this author would’ve done a little more is give the engilsh word or meaning for some of the Indian words used throughout the text. I did a lot of researching while reading, but definitely learned a lot about the culture.
This book comes out April 25, 2023. Get your copy now!