Earlier this year, Cherry Grrl featured an interview with Shamim Sarif where she discussed her two critically acclaimed films, The World Unseen and I Can’t Think Straight. We called her a “renaissance woman” because as the screenwriter, director, and novelist behind two of the best recent contributions to lesbian culture, the description fits. Both of the films are based on novels by the same name and written by Sarif. I Can’t think Straight, the first of the two that this reviewer has had the pleasure of reading, is a brilliantly executed, romantic, sexy, and heart-warming page-turner.
I Can’t think Straight is a story about spirited Christian Tala and shy Muslim Leyla. Both women are highly intelligent, beautiful, and – when the book begins – straight. Tala is a London-based Palestinian who is in the midst of preparing for her elaborate Middle Eastern wedding to a man that she, and her very conservative and wealthy family, think is perfect. Everything changes for Tala when her best friend, Ali, introduces her to the woman that he is dating, Leyla. Leyla is a young British Indian woman who at first has little in common with Tala but immediately shares a connection with her that – through Sarif’s well-crafted dialogue and descriptive scene setting – promises an intense relationship is soon to come.
As the two women begin to spend more time with one another, and Tala’s wedding date grows closer, tension builds and both women struggle with their strong and unexpected attraction to someone of the same sex. From Middle Eastern high society to London’s West End, Sarif explores what happens when everything that you thought you knew about yourself changes, and then suddenly begins to make sense for the first time, when you fall in love and accept your own truth.
Because Tala and Leyla each come from conservative families and are both in relationships with men, giving in to the feelings that they have for one another does not come easily – but that is where the book is at its best. The reader empathizes with the women, eagerly awaits their first kiss, and then grows more and more concerned that they overcome their struggles in order to be together. The journey of their coming out processes, family reactions, and romantic relationship is done honestly and realistically by the author and, despite the specifics of the situations for each woman, is easily relatable for most lesbians who have gone through similar situations.
Quality lesbian themed entertainment is becoming increasingly more available and through her work, Shamim Sarif is helping to ensure that the trend continues. I Can’t Think Straight is a novel that all readers and all critics, regardless of sexuality, would agree is the work of an amazingly talented writer and one that is a refreshing and immensely enjoyable read that leaves you smiling. The only thing to not like about the book is that it had to end… but then you get to watch the movie!
For more visit http://www.enlightenment-productions.com.