"Huda al-Marashi was 6 when she met Hadi Ridha, the boy her family expected her to marry in their close-knit Iraqi American community in California. Whether to have an arranged marriage or an American love story forms the core of “First Comes Marriage,” her charming, funny, heartbreaking memoir of faith, family and the journey to love. If Jane Austen had grown up as a first-gen daughter of Iraqi parents in the 1990s, she might have written this. Keenly observed, with indelible characters, al-Marashi portrays the complex mores and manners that govern life and love in the immigrant community of her youth."
“There comes a time in every relationship (romantic or platonic) when one must decide to leave or stay. With courage, humor, and vulnerability, skilled memoirist Huda Al-Marashi excavates the contours of her marriage, intimately sharing with the reader the journey to her moment of choice.”
—Ayesha Mattu, coeditor of Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women and Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex, and Intimacy
“This sweet, sharply insightful memoir of an Iraqi American marriage skewers stereotypes as it leaves you cheering for these newlyweds.”
—Susan Muaddi Darraj, author of A Curious Land
“Told with exuberance and honesty, First Comes Marriage is a charming, delightful memoir of love and self-discovery. Huda Al-Marashi has written a smart, down-to-earth, and unforgettable modern-day love story that celebrates the enduring bonds of culture, faith, and family. A wonderful book.”
—Jasmin Darznik, New York Times–bestselling author of The Good Daughter and Song of a Captive Bird
“First Comes Marriage is an honest, often amusing, account of one young woman’s quest to balance the traditional Muslim values she acquired from her Iraqi immigrant parents with the romantic fantasies she acquired from American media. Her story is both unique in that the devout, overachieving narrator is not the rebellious first-generation daughter we’ve come to expect from immigrant narratives, and universal in its instructive journey from youthful hubris and naïveté to learning how to make a marriage work.”
—Faith Adiele, author of The Nigerian Nordic Girl’s Guide to Lady Problems, and founder of VONA Travel Workshop for Writers of Color
“Determined to weave her own love story from the threads of the two seemingly opposing cultures she grew up in, Al-Marashi fearlessly takes us on a journey into the darkest corners of her young marriage, as well as herself.”
—Jen Waite, internationally bestselling author of A Beautiful, Terrible Thing
First Comes Marriage
When Huda meets Hadi, the boy she will ultimately marry, she is six years old. Both are the American-born children of Iraqi immigrants, who grew up on opposite ends of California.
Hadi considers Huda his childhood sweetheart, the first and only girl he’s ever loved, but Huda needs proof that she is more than just the girl Hadi’s mother has chosen for her son. She wants what many other American girls have—the entertainment culture’s almost singular tale of chance meetings, defying the odds, and falling in love. She wants stolen kisses, romantic dates, and a surprise proposal. As long as she has a grand love story, Huda believes no one will question if her marriage has been arranged.
But when Huda and Hadi’s conservative Muslim families forbid them to go out alone before their wedding, Huda must navigate her way through the despair of unmet expectations and dashed happily-ever-after ideals. Eventually she comes to understand the toll of straddling two cultures in a marriage and the importance of reconciling what you dreamed of with the life you eventually live.
Tender, honest, and irresistibly compelling, First Comes Marriage is the first Muslim American memoir dedicated to the themes of love and sexuality. Huda and Hadi’s story brilliantly circles around a series of firsts, chronicling two virgins moving through their first everything: first hand-holding, first kiss, and first sexual encounter. First Comes Marriage is an almost unbearably humanizing tale that tucks into our hearts and lingers in our imagination, while also challenging long-standing taboos within the Muslim community and the romantic stereotypes we unknowingly carry within us that sabotage some of our best chances for finding true love.
Huda Al-Marashi is the author of the memoir First Comes Marriage: My Not-So-Typical American Love Story. Other works have appeared in the Washington Post, the LA Times, al Jazeera, VIDA Review, the Rumpus, the Offing, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Cuyahoga County Creative Workforce Fellowship and an Aspen Summer Words Emerging Writer Fellowship. Huda is represented by Myrsini Stephanides at the Carol Mann Agency.