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A candid, heartfelt love story set in contemporary California that challenges the idea of what it means to be American, liberated, and in love

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.



"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.”

—Washington Post

"Honest and compelling, this memoir deconstructs the American pop culture idea of love and challenges the taboo within the Muslim community. And despite the rough path, her love for Hadi reconciles and grows to be more than your typical fairy tale."

— Hippocampus Magazine

"Sweet, candid and poignant First Comes Marriage: My Not-So-Typical American Love Story is part biography, part love story, part cultural narrative and altogether delightful. This charming tale of love not-so-American style does a fabulous job of introducing readers to the idea that not all romances must follow the path pushed upon us by Hollywood."

— All About Romance

"Al-Marashi’s story reminds us that there are so many ways to be a girlfriend, a fiancée, a mother, a sister, a wife, and a bride. Her book artfully upturns the colonial assumptions that so often govern stories about love and marriage, while also exposing the tensions inherent in building a life and a family while balancing conflicting cultural expectations derived from not one, but two well-loved homelands."

—Vida Review

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