Book Review: Soft on Soft by Em Ali – The, Indeed, Very Soft Story between Two Queer Fat Girls in Love

Hm, you haven’t seen Xiaolong in awhile.

Although you have been visiting the Pond frequently, Xiaolong always seemed so busy and the both of you never had the opportunity to talk. You hope, in your visit today, that you will get to see her and talk to her.

Xiaolong the pink axolotl, wearing a purple flower hat, holding a soft pillow and a book 'Soft on Soft' to her chest.And so, when you pass through the magical boundary and enter the Pond, you hear the familiar scampering of feet and the familiar call of ‘friend!’ Indeed, when you turn around to the sound of her voice, Xiaolong stands before you, holding a pillow and a book in her hand.

“Friend! I’m so glad that I got the chance to see you today. I’ve been so busy and I missed you. I’m sorry we haven’t had the chance to talk much, but I made sure to make time for you today!”

You smile, and tell her that it was good to see her. You ask her what she is doing today, and what book she is holding in her hand.

“Oh yes!” she exclaims. “I had a feeling you were coming today, so I brought you this fluffy pillow. I highly recommend cuddling this pillow while I tell you about this very lovely book that will make you want to cuddle things.”

That sounds like such a comforting book! Once you and Xiaolong settle at your favourite spot at the Pond, her fluffy and soft pillow on your lap, she holds the book out to you. “So, this book is called Soft on Soft…

TEXT: Soft on Soft, Em Ali. IMAGE: a white and pink cup, with steam rising above the text. Bottom right corner: Xiaolong the pink axolotl with an upside down flower hat at the center of a stamp, with the text "Review by CW, The Quiet Pond" around it.

June Bana might post nearly daily makeup looks that gain thousands of likes but Real Life June has built a wall behind which she exists with her two cats.

But with messy feelings getting in a way of an early hermit life, June begins to realize that she wants more. She wants model/actress, Sunshine Reincarnated Selena Clarke. It doesn’t hurt that Selena is amazing with cats and quiets down June’s anxiety to bearable levels.

June is given the choice of facing her anxieties about relationships to gain not only a girlfriend but also a better understanding of how far she’d go for love.

But would she take it? Would she leave her comfort zone for something softer?

Contemporary romance where one homebody and one extrovert make one hell of a love story.

My review:

I was provided a copy of this novella by my lovely friend and the author themself. This does not influence my review in any way, and my opinions are my own.

Listen, Soft on Soft is indeed, very soft, and that’s what makes it such a gorgeous gem of a book. It’s a short and sweet novella, and follows two fat queer women – June, a Persian cat-loving homebody, and Selena, an extroverted Black model and actress – and the slow-burn love that blossoms and grows between them.

I read this book at a challenging time last year, and I cannot express how much I needed this book. Reading Soft on Soft, which promises low angst and high fluff, gave me the relief and reprieve that I had desperately needed at the time. It let me release my breath, unclench my jaw, and lower my shoulders. More importantly, Soft on Soft whisked me away to the world of June and Selena, where things were good, safe, kinder, and full of light.

Although this book is, first and foremost, a romance, Soft on Soft also reads like a slice of life, or a story that portrays a segment of a character’s life without much of a distinct plot or conflict. Although I do love books with plots and a conflict for the characters to overcome, Soft on Soft as slice of life works because the characters, June and Selena, are absolute joys to read about and their interactions, the progression and growth of their relationship carry the story forward. In addition, this isn’t a story about anti-fat or anti-queer rhetoric, nor is it about the girls overcoming something horrible that we often see in stories with fat characters. Rather, this book is queer, fat, and brown and black joy at its loveliest and softest.

I loved the characters in this novel, and loved how wonderfully inclusive it was; a great example of how inclusivity can be natural and empowering and wholesome. I loved and related to June, who was a pansexual anxious bean but adores her cats and is great at what she does (she’s a makeup artist!). And then there’s Selena, sunshine incarnate, confident fat girl, demisexual, and incredibly supportive through June’s anxiety. I also loved June’s friend, Shelby, who is nonbinary, and so sharp and funny.

At its heart, Soft on Soft is about how two girls, who are vastly different in personality, kindle their relationship, and how it grows with each date, each new thing they learn about each other, and with each step of their new and exciting relationship. Indeed, what was so lovely about Soft on Soft was how we get to witness how two lovely girls who slowly fall in love with each other, allowing us to experience and relive the magic and joy of love, falling in love, and all the magical firsts.


If you are looking for a soft and gentle read, then Soft on Soft is, without a doubt, my go-to recommendation. I absolutely cannot wait to read more stories by Ali; their writing style is lovely and perfect for romance stories. Perfect for those who just want a guaranteed relaxing and good time, for those who just want to read about joy, sunshine, and love embodied in a book.

Goodreads | Book Depository | My short review on Goodreads

Is this book for you?

Premise in a sentence: Two fat, queer, girls of colour fall in love.

Perfect for: Readers who want something relaxing to read; readers who want something short; readers who want something that is cheesey and wholesome and safe.

Think twice if: You prefer reading books with a distinct plot and a conflict.

Genre: adult romance

Trigger/content warning: discussion of passed-away loved one, panic attack, mention of anti-ace language

Let’s discuss!

I’m so so so incredibly excited to read Ali’s next book, Graham’s Delicacies, which is about three romances set in the context of a bakery! It sounds so sweet and lovely.

And in case you haven’t heard, I did the illustrations for the book cover! You can see the book cover reveal in Fadwa’s blog, Word Wonders. (And now I want to draw more sweet and soft desserts…)

  • Have you read Soft on Soft? What did you think of it?
  • What was the last softest and purest book that you read? I need recommendations!
  • What romances would you like to see more of? (Personally, I’d love to see more interracial romances where the love interest isn’t white, because most ‘diverse’ interracial relationships are depicted that way!)

11 thoughts on “Book Review: Soft on Soft by Em Ali – The, Indeed, Very Soft Story between Two Queer Fat Girls in Love

  1. I’ve read Graham’s Delicacies and it’s wonderfully sweet, I definitely don’t wanna miss Soft on Soft! Lovely review!! Oh, and the cover of Graham’s Delicacies is gorgeous ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This may be a silly question but are Em Ali and Mina Waheed the same person? I keep seeing “Soft on Soft” and “Graham’s Delicacies” being attributed to Mina and wanted to double check!

    Liked by 1 person

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