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Why is Nobody Laughing? – Yasmin Rahman

Thank you so much to the publishers, Hot Key Books, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Will the real Ibrahim Malik please stand up? Ibrahim and Dexter have been best friends forever. While Dexter is always cool and confident, Ibrahim…well, Ibrahim’s dealing with a lot. Hiding his passion for comedy from his family, dealing with the pressure of being the oldest child in an immigrant family, and now he’s started having episodes he soon realises are panic attacks.

When Ibrahim has a panic attack on stage at a local stand-up competition, he runs off to a deserted room. There he finds Sura. Sura is kind and helps him come to terms with his anxiety. He can open up to her in a way he’s never been able to with Dexter. But there’s also something strange about her – how much she knows about Ibrahim, and how she seems to disappear in an instant.

Will Ibrahim crumble under the pressure, or will Sura’s words be enough to help him? And what will happen when he no longer has her help?

Yasmin Rahman is an author whose books I know I will always enjoy. I’ve read her previous novels and loved them. They are emotional, beautiful and hard-hitting. So, when I heard that she would be releasing a new book, of course I was excited! I read her latest novel Why is Nobody Laughing? in a couple of sitting and I loved it. It is slightly different from her previous books, for a couple of things I’ll mention soon, but it was still hard-hitting, emotional and all round amazing.

As with Yasmin’s previous books, I love how she writes friendships. The friendships we see throughout this book are so special. Ibrahim and Dexter’s friendship is one of the loveliest friendship storylines I’ve ever read. We get to see their ups and it shows that friendships aren’t always easy. Their friendship feels realistic and very true-to-life. So, if that is something you are interested in you don’t need to look further.

There is a little bit of a fantasy element in this book which I thoroughly enjoyed. I didn’t know what to think when I read that this book has surreal elements. So, I was pleasantly surprised when those surreal elements were wonderful. I don’t want to give much away about this element but I feel it really added to the story in a number of ways. It allowed us to see more of Ibrahim, our main character, as he opened up more thanks to these elements. I felt the fantasy element in this book was very unique and made this book feel magical at times. 

Ibrahim is such a wonderful main character. He is going through so much during this book and at times it is really difficult to read about. We get to see him grow so much as a person and learn how to deal with the things he is facing. I loved watching him grow in confidence and learning to face his challenges. Dexter is also an excellent character we get to see a lot of. Even though he is a side character, we also get to see him develop throughout the book. He is facing his own challenges too, which aid in making him who he is by the end of the book.

I loved seeing the family in this book. Ibrahim’s family has its issues and is going through a number of difficult things. This allows us to see how they bond as a group because of those challenges. I adored the family game nights that they had together in this book and those sections really brought a smile to my face. The sibling relationships between Ibrahim and his brother and sister was lovely to read. They have their fights but they always stand up for one another which was heart-warming.

Yasmin Rahman always does an extraordinary job of handling fragile issues in a sensitive manner. This book in particular deals with cultural issues, racism, mental health, suicide and a whole lot more. All of these topics are discussed in a sensitive way and you can tell, as a reader, that Yasmin has put a lot of thought and care into how she writes these topics.

At parts this book made me laugh out loud. Ibrahim wants to be a stand-up comedian and you can tell he is a naturally funny character. I loved the stand-up competition element of this book as it brought something I’ve never seen in YA before. Also, it just gave the reader some well-deserved laughs at exactly the right times.

Overall, Why is Nobody Laughing? is a heart-warming, emotional and funny book which I adored. It discusses mental health in such an honest, respectful and beautiful and I’m sure it will help a number of its readers. Yasmin Rahman is a truly extraordinary author whose books I cannot recommend enough!

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