Cover Image: The Halfways

The Halfways

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Member Reviews

I love a story about family drama, sisters, and intergenerational houses, so *The Halfways* was a must. Sisters Nasrin and Sabrina travel to their parents’ home in Wales, from London and New York, respectively, for their father’s funeral. At the will reading, their father’s shocking secret is finally revealed and the sisters lives are turned upside down by the surprise and the following uncertainty.

Uddin made her characters tread the fine line of being relatable, but unlikeable, which is a true feat. I love reading about unlikeable characters, as long as they are compelling, and *The Halfways* delivered. Jahanara, Afroz, Nasrin, and Sabrina can be selfish, petty, and mercurial, but ultimately put their family and each other first. I find unlikeable characters to be compelling when done correctly, which these characters are. I am definitely hoping for more unlikeable characters in any future writings Uddin brings out.
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This book is one of my favourite books I read this year. The story, the characters and the mix of English and Bangladeshi language and the food made it so real and so interesting. I loved to discover a different culture through the story of the Islam family and the struggle of being in between cultures. When I was reading I felt like I was there with the characters, feeling their emotions either when going through their family drama or their culture expectations.
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“Can a brown person be English? Why is it that they allow us the Brit bit but not the English? BritishBangladeshi. Never English-Bangladeshi, never Welsh-Bengali. .. ‘I feel like the language works to exclude us”

My thanks to HQ for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘The Halfways’ by Nilopar Uddin.

The first thing that stands out about this debut novel is the exquisite design of its cover.  It is an epic family drama spanning decades and moves between London, Wales, New York and Bangladesh. The title refers to how the younger members of the family think of themselves as existing halfway between two cultures. 

Nasrin and Sabrina are sisters who are living what appears to be happy and successful lives in London and New York. When their father, Shamsur, dies suddenly they rush to Wales to be there for their mother. For many years the family has run The Peacock, an Indian restaurant in the Breton Beacons. Their cousin, Afroz, who lives in Bangladesh, travels to Wales to represent the extended family at the funeral.

When Shamsur’s will is read a shocking family secret is revealed that upsets everyone. No further details to avoid spoilers.

I found this a beautifully written novel that combines a variety of themes focused on relationships between various members of the family. It has moments of lightness and hope as well as sadness and loss. 

While the family in the novel are fictional, Nilopar Uddin’s parents did run an Indian restaurant in Wales and regularly visited their extended family in Bangladesh. She acknowledges that she drew on her childhood memories in writing ‘The Halfways’.
Following the main story Nilopar Uddin includes a glossary of a selection of Sylheti terms that she used in the novel.

I feel that ‘The Halfways’ is the kind of novel that will appeal to reading groups given its themes that are both universal as well as specific to the experiences of those dealing with the sense of being ‘Halfways’.

Overall, I found Nilopar Uddin’s writing lyrical and evocative. Her descriptions was superb and it allowed a sense of immersion in the lives of her characters. A stunning literary debut. I could easily see ‘The Halfways’ as a nominee for the 2023 Women’s Prize for Fiction.
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The Halfways is about three cousins who live in the US, UK and Bangladesh. Sisters Nasrin and Sabrina reflect on being first and second generation immigrants while Afroz was pressured into accepting an arranged marriage in Bangladesh. A family event brings the three women back together and allows the novel to examine the ways different Muslim women adapt to living in the West.

The title refers to those trapped between two cultures and also to their status as women - who have ‘half a man’s worth’ Afroz reflects as she prevents her neighbour beating his sister. Another character observes that ‘a cousin is only half a sister.’ Nasrin and Sabrina’s family business, a restaurant in Wales named the Peacock, plays a central role in the novel and Nilopar Uddin acknowledges this was inspired by her own parents who owned an Indian restaurant.

This novel was well written and immersive, but it was challenging to look up the many Sylheti words in the glossary while reading on my Kindle. Some characters are much more compelling than others and the novel starts quite slowly until a family secret is revealed. It also seemed unrealistic that one character came from Bangladesh for a family event and then managed to stay and work in the UK for many months without any mention of a visa. But I enjoyed the chance to read about a different culture and spend time with these three women and their husbands, lovers, parents and friends. It was a great holiday read.
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I was sent a copy of The Halfways by Nilopar Uddin to read and review by NetGalley.  I really loved this book, it was so full of emotion and life!  The characters were really well drawn and there was a great sense of place.  The author dealt brilliantly with the inevitable division between family members that were born in a new country, Wales, with a very different culture and way of life to that of their parents who were from Bangladesh.  It was so interesting to see the conflicting beliefs and morals between both the parents and children - and that which occurred within the personal psyche of the new generation themselves.  I also loved the way that the text was interspersed with a lot of Bangladeshi words, quotes and phrases.  This made the writing all the more authentic for me.  A wonderful book, well worth 5 stars.
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A family saga beginning and ending in Bangladesh with short forays to New York and London and a ‘lifetime’ in the Brecon Beacons. 

Relationships lost and regained, and a long-held secret which has profound consequences once uncovered. 

The story is engaging and the characters - flawed, complicated, compliant or abrasive - are well-written. Several decisions seem to be unlikely based on what we know and for a book ‘about women’ my favourite character is Riaz but sadly his story is not concluded satisfactorily. 

Worth a read.
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Although this book was interesting I do not think it suits being an audio book as there are quite a few words that you need to look at the glossary for and going backwards and forwards is difficult, because of this reason I couldn't finish the book because I was missing so much, this wouldn't be an issue with a physical book
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In this raw story of family dramas and revelations, a lot happens! It follows a family who emigrated from Bangladesh to the Brecon Beacons in Wales. It focuses chiefly on Nasrin and Sabrina, two sisters, though many other family members and relatives are included. The writing and immersive culture captivate and keep you motivated to read on. A terrific family saga with a multilayered, enthralling tale spanning four decades, the multitude of Bangladeshi terms used meant I needed to look up words in the glossary.

A delightful, sterling début that is as glorious on the inside as its striking cover, The Halfways is well worth your time.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from HQ via NetGalley at my request and this review is my own unbiased opinion.
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This books description really sold it to me, I usually enjoy a family saga and this had all the ingredients to be an excellent one. 
After a strong start though I found the book difficult to get into. I think the format just didn't work well ( digital). I believe there is a glossary but I was unable to find it when reading. Ironically , at the halfway point on this one, I decided to give up, I was getting confused and losing interest.
I think there is a good book there and I want to know what happens but I need a paperback of this one.
I have ordered a copy and will return to it at some point.

I am pretty sure this is the first arc I have not read in full. I have never had an issue with reading format before, first time for everything.
I will update my review if possible when I read the paperback.
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Interesting take on the family saga. I found the UK and Bangladesh stories more captivating. The impact of a pivotal member of a family is dealt with brilliantly
3.5/5 stars
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The ultimate family saga, there is so much that happens within the pages of The Halfways. I was instantly hooked by the writing and then stayed along for the deep and raw story of family dramas, secrets revealed, and an eclectic cast of characters. While at times it can seem quite long, the gorgeous writing and immersive culture will keep you captivated through and through. Also, the ending is absolutely devastating. The emotions that you go through while reading this will have your head spinning, in the very best way possible. I absolutely adored this book.
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This is a wonderful book to read and a first for my by this author. The story is one about differing opinions between family members. The family emigrated from Bangladesh to the Brecon Beacons in Wales. Their father has recently passed away and the sisters Nasrin and Sabrina have returned back to Wales from London and New York.

While the story focuses a lot on the two girls, the author has included other family members and relations. This was a brilliant way of giving different perspectives and it gave a better idea of the opinions other people had. Their parents wanted their girls to live and experience the ways of the West, but even on this they disagreed as their mother felt they should be more away of their home, religion, culture and heritage of Bangladesh. 

The author has created an extremely poignant story of the differences between cultures religions, traditions and expectations. Trying to live your life between two different cultures does bring arguments and disagreements. While both sisters try to be modern and to be more like those around them, they are still aware that their skin is of a different colour. Both have compromised to be more accepted and this is shown through some very heart-breaking scenes. 

Getting to know more about the the family and also the culture was so interesting and the author made it so addictive. The story is deep and moving and does explore the stigmas and perceptions of people, especially those within this family. Back stories are explored for the parents and for several others and this helps build a fuller picture.

I adored this story, it has some fun moments, but it is also very heart-breaking. A gorgeously told story with additional information in the glossary at the end. It is a family in turmoil, one that is struggling and trying to overcome the death of a father and husband and also trying to keep things together. They are trying so hard to keep things going and not everything goes to plan.

This is one for those who love to explore different cultures, religions and lives, a contemporary fiction as well as dipping into the past. Addictive reading and one I would definitely recommend.
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The story of The Halfways is about the ties that bind us across geographical and generational divides with a focus on the importance of food and story.   The contemporary  Islam family are split across three continents and are brought together in Wales by the death of Shamsur , father to Nasrin and Sabrina.   I enjoyed the story although I did find the time shifting narrative a little confusing in places.   The characters' lives and moral/emotional conflicts were well described as were their fluctuating relationships with each other.   At points in the story however I felt there were perhaps too many narrative threads going on and they were not all tightly controlled.   I really appreciated the author's ability to weave Sylheti and English throughout the narrative and thought she had a keen eye for place, describing the Brecon Beacons, Bangladesh and Manhattan in great detail.   My thanks to the publisher via Net Galley for a complementary ARC of this title in return for an unbiased review,
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I really enjoyed this book. It has the family drama vibes that I think fans of Pachinko would enjoy, and the imagery is just beautiful. I loved the different settings and how this book brings in culture, including the language used. I love a good food scene too and this had plenty of those.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it to most readers.
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I struggled with this one, long and hard. It wasn't the Bengali language, I could figure out some of that by the context. I just found it a bit tedious. Somehow I just wasn't fired up (even though there was quite a lot on the face of it to keep me interested.) Sorry, not for me.
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A Father is dead..not just a Father, a restaurant owner, a husband , a role model, an Uncle. Three women gather in Wales at the family home. Afroz has come from Bangladesh, she wears a hijab but she’s uncomfortable with both her culture and marriage and longs for the freedoms she perceives the other women possess. 
Sabrina flies in from New York. She’s a high flying financier but a lonely woman.. Nasrin arrives with her young son, Elias. She  was forced to give up a career as a pilot when her epilepsy returned suddenly…She married outside her culture, her husband doesn’t understand her, her neighbour asks for warnings when she’s cooking spicy dishes..
The death of Shamsur has brought the women’s past and future  head on as they confront their relationships with each other, their ambition and cultural identity and they try to understand what history led them to this point. 
ThIs is an eloquently written story, full of the unique geography of the different settings, interwoven with the smells of cooking, the buzz of the restaurant and the beautiful words of the Sylheti language ..
I loved this story and in particular the wonderfully observed dynamics of the relationship between the three women ..I felt totally wrapped up in their lives and intrigued by their feelings towards each other. Where did the hostility between Sabrina and Afroz stem from. And there are other secrets..what is going on at Nasrin’s home, is Sabrina being set up at work ..

This is a wide ranging family saga spanning decades and continents, driven by a sense of belonging and identity, love and family. I loved it. 
With thanks to Netgalley and HQ Stories for my copy
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I’d describe this book as realistic fiction. The author has done an amazing job at creating imaginary characters and situations that depict the world and society. The characters focus on themes of growing, self-discovery and confronting personal and social problems. This is a first for me by the author and one I enjoyed and would read more of their work. The book cover is eye-catching and appealing and would spark my interest if in a bookshop. Thank you very much to the author, publisher and Netgalley for this ARC.

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When their father, Shamsur dies suddenly, sisters Nassrin and Sabrina return home to Wales to be with their mother and reluctantly step back into the stifling traditional ways, creating a clash of culture as old meets new.  The tension rises when Shamsur’s will is read and the revelation of a long-held secret sends shockwaves through the family, tearing them apart and creating a rift that seems beyond repair…

An absorbing debut that is as beautiful on the inside as its striking cover, The Halfways is a kaleidoscopic family saga.  Melodic, lyrical, vibrant and evocative, it is a glorious tapestry of a novel.  Nilopar Uddin is a gifted storyteller who has crafted an atmospheric, layered, enthralling story filled with humanity.  As she explores the many facets of family, culture, identity, belonging and forgiveness, Uddin leads you through the story gently, like a tranquil stroll on a summer's day.  It feels light, yet bursting with imagery and emotion, dreamlike, with a stylish and cinematic edge that feels like you’re seeing the story vivid technicolour.  This isn’t a book you simply read, but one that you step into.

The story is told by multiple narrators over four decades, taking us between London, New York, Wales and Bangladesh. Moving fluidly between narrators, places and timelines, the vignettes from the past offer us a glimpse into the history of this complex family, slowly revealing who they are and what secrets they have been keeping.  The chorus of richly drawn, flawed, yet very different, characters draw you into their lives, allowing us to step into their shoes and feel everything that they do: their heartache, grief, struggles, inner turmoil and betrayal.  

Tender, moving and heartfelt, The Halfways is a captivating and lingering debut from exciting new talent.
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The HalfWays is a beautiful story about a family scattered across the world, brought back together after a sudden passing, after which secrets are revealed. 
This story is beautifully told, well plotted, emotional, gripping and wonderfully cathartic. The characters brought to life in this novel are so incredibly human. They are frustrating and sympathetic, flawed and strong, full of spite and love and everything in between. This story is almost entirely character driven and as such lives and dies on the characters and personally I enjoyed every moment I spent with them. 
I loved the descriptions of the locations in the book and I could imagine the hills of Wales, the rush in New York and the hustle and bustle of village life in Bangladesh.  The references to food were also a delight. I also loved the use of a different language and how it talks about a different culture. 
From the very first chapter this was a completely immersive novel. The writing is just superb. The story completely drew me in and I couldn’t put it down. 
An absolutely beautiful cover and an engaging synopsis drew me into this book. 
An enchanting family saga that I adored.  Well written with a riveting storyline and well developed characters that I took to my heart.  An incredible read. I highly recommend this book.
I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher HQ (@HQstories) for the opportunity to read the eARC of this book.
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Intricate and poignant, this literary novel explores belief, culture, family, identity and love. The character-driven, emotional and gently paced tale immerses the reader in the lives of Nasrin and Sabrina. Their father's death brings them back to the family home and business in Wales and changes everything. The language and sensory imagery produce a lyrical story full of conflict, secrets and love. Moving between the various characters and time frames, the reader learns their history and why they behave as they do.

I enjoyed the originality, believably flawed characters and the emotional journey through the women and their relatives' lives.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
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