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"My June pick, “These Impossible Things” by Salma El-Wardany, is the perfect story to lose yourself in while you soak up the sun," said Jenna Bush Hager.
The story is about best friends, Melak, Kees and Jenna as they find their way in the world. As they reconcile the cultural norms and societal expectations that accompany growing up in strict Muslim households with their own desires and passions, they turn to each other. When they are at their most raw, when they are looking for companionship and when they just want a good laugh, the best friends know they are there for one another.
"Just like in my own life, this book is about three strong women who are the heroines of their own stories," said Jenna, "This book perfectly portrays the power, vulnerability and solace I have always found in female friendship."
El-Wardany told TODAY the book was inspired by the strong female friendships in her own life.
"As I got older, and as I went through life, I kind of got to a point where I was like, my girlfriends may be more important than my romantic relationships," said the debut novelist.
Representation was also very important to her as she wrote her first book. After writing her master's dissertation on the representation of Muslims in literature, El-Wardany found a massive gap in the representation of Muslim women on the page.
"I looked at me and all my girlfriends who went out clubbing and got drunk and had sex with our boyfriends and partners, or whoever we wanted to have sex with and then we went to mosque and had an amazing time there and loved it and never wanted to forsake any part of those sides of our lives," said El-Wardany, "It kind of came back to that old adage of if there's a story that you want to see that's not there, then you better write it. And so that's one of the reasons I wrote it as well, because I just thought, I just want to tell a story of our lived experience, that doesn't make us the butt of a joke."
After just a month with the goal of writing 5,000 words a day during the pandemic, El-Wardany had her novel.
"The whole book just spilled out with me," she told TODAY.
As readers dive into the novel this summer, Jenna is confident they will fall in love with the women at the heart of the book.
"I know readers will fall in love with these vibrant women just like I did," said Jenna.
El-Wardany hopes it's a reminder for women about the power of female friendship.
El-Wardany said, "I want women to read this book. And then when they finish it, and they close the last page, I want them to call their girlfriends and go for dinner."