Home is the continuation of the Binti series. Binti has been
at Oomza for over a year, and she has managed to make somewhat acquaintances
with the Meduse Okwu. Now, Binti must travel to her home town and go on a
pilgrimage with her people. She brings Okwu to her home planet to meet her people,
and she struggles to find her place as a foreigner in a place that she once
Okorafor does include some thoughts of Binti having panic
attacks and having to go to a counselor because of the attack on the ship a
year ago, but I felt like Binti and the world still don’t care about what
happened on that ship! Okwu is allowed at the school as some sort of exchange
student, and no one ever really questions him. He was on the ship when the
attack occurred, but no one is even put in jail for killing all of those innocent
students. Sure, they wanted the chief’s stinger, but surely there could have
been a more peaceful way of getting it back rather than killing a ship full of
students and then keeping one hostage as an ambassador. I don’t understand how
they just forgave the Meduse for this and just moved to allow them into the
school so easily. How are they explaining this to the parents of the children
who were killed? Nothing makes sense.
On top of that, did you know Binti has turned half Meduse? Because
I sure didn’t! It came as a complete shock to me when all of a sudden, her hair
was some sort of tentacles. And the book doesn’t even discuss her hating herself
for becoming (at least partially) one of the killers that had taken so many
lives. It would have been interesting banter, but it isn’t even discussed. Clearly,
she doesn’t view the Meduse as her equal though, as she repeatedly calls Okwu
an “it” throughout the book. It would make sense if Okwu was called “them” for
being gender non-binary, but it? IT? Okwu is clearly a sentient being worth
more than just the pronoun it. So, I call Okwu he in this review and in my head
as that is how other characters refer to him in the book.
It is so disappointing when Binti meets her family. I wasn’t
expecting her to be welcomed home with open arms, but they are outright cruel
to her at times. It’s like everyone has forgotten that she totally could have
died in the previous book with the rest of the kids on that ship. Speaking of
the ship, the ship is alive. Again, would have been interesting to see how a
living creature would feel about having hundreds of students killed inside her
own body, but that isn’t discussed either.
Overall, I would not recommend this trilogy. I am going to
read the last book, but then I am not going to read it again most likely. I
wanted so badly to enjoy it, but I simply cannot, unfortunately.
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: June 4th 2019
Genre: Young Adult,
Fantasy, Science Fiction
Introducing an epic new trilogy from Taran Matharu, author of the New York Times–bestselling Summoner series.
Throughout history, people have vanished with no explanation. A
group of teenagers are about to discover why.
Cade is settling into a new boarding school, contemplating his
future, when he finds himself transported to another realm. He soon discovers
their new world is populated with lost remnants from the past: prehistoric
creatures, ancient relics, and stranger still — people. Overwhelmed by his new
surroundings, Cade has little time to adjust, for soon he and his fellow
classmates are forced to become contenders in a brutal game, controlled by
But who are these beings and why did they choose these teens? Cade must prepare for battle . . . because hiding is not an option.
Cade was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. He has been
spending the last six months of his life at a boarding school for troubled
boys, but he doesn’t fit in there. He never committed a crime, he actually
enjoys learning and History class, and he isn’t “troubled.” As he counts down
the days until he will be able to get out of the school, he sees his dreams
slipping away. He will no longer be able to go back to the advanced school he
was in, he will probably be unable to go to a good college, and his parents’
lives have been ruined as they have to pay for this school and for his court
case. Just when Cade thinks things couldn’t get worse, he wakes up on some
foreign planet. Something called a Codex follows him around and tells him that
they have some sort of battle coming up. Cade doesn’t want to play these games,
but the more he explores the planet, the more deadly things become. Cade has an
important choice to make, one that could lead to either life or death.
I love Taran Matharu’s books! I thoroughly enjoyed the first
two books in the Summoner series, and I have the last two sitting on my shelf
waiting to be read. When I found out that he had a new book coming out, I knew
that I wanted to be one of the first to read and enjoy it. Matharu definitely
I truly sympathized with Cade from beginning to end. He never
wanted to be a hero, and he never was a criminal. All he was a kid that happened
to be in the wrong room at the wrong time, and who was racially profiled on top
of that. This one case had ruined his and his parents’ lives all at once, and
it wasn’t his fault in any way. It was sad because it seemed so realistic, like
some boy in a rich boarding school could actually have this happen to him. I completely
forgot about the “traveling to another world” storyline as I read this part of
the book. I honestly could have read an entire book about Cade in his boarding
school, and even though it wouldn’t have been happy, it would have been interesting.
Once Cade was in the new world, things really got exciting.
I won’t spoil anything as this is the majority of the book. All I will say is
that I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book once he landed on the foreign
The only thing that I disliked about this story was the middle. The transition from the real world to the new planet was not as smooth as I thought it could have been, and I felt like I was confused as it kept dragging on. After I got over this part of the novel, everything else went smoothly and I enjoyed myself.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new YA fantasy/dystopian
I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary
Taran Matharu is the New York Times bestselling author of the
Summoner series, which has been translated into 15 languages and has sold over
a million copies. He was born in London in 1990 and found a passion for writing
during early adolescence, beginning his first book at 9 years old.
Straight after graduating with a First Class degree in Business
Administration, Taran was keen to explore a new avenue and get inside the
publishing world, landing an internship in Digital Sales at Penguin Random
House, from June to September 2013.
Thereafter, while taking time off to travel, Taran began to write
‘Summoner’ in November 2013 at the age of 22, taking part in ‘Nanowrimo 2013’
and sharing his work on Wattpad.com. The shared sample of the story went viral,
reaching over 3 million reads in less than six months. Taran went on to launch
his professional writing career, and has never looked back.
His SUMMONER series is published by Hodder
Children’s (Hachette) in the UK, Australia and Commonwealth, Feiwel and Friends
(Macmillan) in the US and Canada, Hachette Jeunesse in France, Heyne in
Germany, Planeta in Spain, Crown in Taiwan, Record in Brazil, EKSMO in Russia,
Jaguar in Poland, Ecliptic in Bulgaria, Alpress in the Czech Republic, Ithaki
in Turkey, Forlaget Forar in Denmark and Unieboek in the Netherlands.
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor is a novel about a young girl named Binti who is the first of her people to go to Oomza University. She has to escape in the middle of the night just to avoid her parents to be able to go to the University. Her people believe that you should stay in your homeland forever, but Binti has been dreaming of going to this university since she was a young girl. While traveling to the university, Binti realizes that she may have made a mistake. Everyone stares at her because of the otjize or an orange-red substance that her people rub into their skin and hair to become a part of their homeland. They call her terrible names and treat her as if she is worthless. Then, on her way to the university, her ship is attacked. Binti must make difficult decisions and use the power within herself to be able to survive until she gets to the university.
I was so excited for this book, I really was. Now that I am
at the end of it, I am simply disappointed. I felt like I was on some sort of
wild ride where I never really got to connect with any of the characters and
simply raced to the end. Binti went from being on a ship with classmates who
may or may not have liked her to being on a ship full of killer aliens. I was
looking forward to seeing Binti make friends and connect with the other
students who were feeling isolated, but instead they were just murdered in cold
blood and then never really spoken about again. The novel doesn’t even discuss
how being on a ship full of her classmate’s dead bodies affected Binti. It just
leaps from scene to scene without focusing on anything for a long enough time.
Then, the book tries to convince me that the people who literally
murdered Binti’s classmates in cold blood aren’t really killers. There was
literally nothing redeemable about them, and Binti doesn’t automatically stop
fearing them, but that was a terrible take in my opinion. I think the story
could have been salvageable if the motto hadn’t been “mass murderers aren’t
Overall, I was generally disappointed by this book. I really
wanted to like it, but I couldn’t. I will be reading the rest of the series
however, as I have already purchased the books and don’t want them to go to waste!
Maybe things will turn around for Binti.
It had been a whirlwind of change from a year ago for Pierre Jackson … on track to becoming a chef extraordinaire, living it up in a plush up-town condo that he shared with his successful and debonair fiancé, De’Andre Harris, the world’s hottest news anchor, Pierre thought he had his future all mapped out. He hadn’t imagined that he’d be alone, in between jobs, lose his passion for cooking, living in a run-down apartment, and entertaining the thought of having to share space with a stranger. That is, until he received a phone call from his best friend asking for a huge favor. If that wasn’t enough, he’s beckoned home to deal with a death in the family, and having to travel to a far away land, a place from his distant past, a place of faint memories of an unaccustomed culture, tropical heat and the sweet scent of mangoes.
Pierre’s new roommate is Zola Washington, a beautiful, charismatic, young African American woman, who unbeknownst to Pierre has her own agenda and wrestling with her own ghosts. Zola is trying to escape a tumultuous relationship with her crazy ex-boyfriend, Jaizon, and rebuild a brand-new life. She has big dreams and makes a risky decision to open a bistro in the heart of the bustling city of Toronto, but she doesn’t know where to begin until she meets Pierre.
While Pierre and Zola push ahead in their pursuits of living better lives, they both finds themselves at a crossroad when their past comes back to haunt them and has them turning to copious amounts of delicious food and the search of spirituality.
This book was definitely a whirlwind of a romance!
At the start of the novel, Pierre was still getting over his ex-fiance De’Andre. De’Andre was trying to sneak back into his life, but Pierre wasn’t going to have it. If De’Andre wouldn’t give up the facade and would continue to date women to appease his parents, Pierre wasn’t going to sneak around like the secret boyfriend. De’Andre could be happy with his wife, and Pierre would find someone that would be proud to show him off. He tries looking for love in the wrong places, and then he is invited home for his grandfather’s funeral. Soon, he finds a man named London. London seems to be everything that Pierre wants, but he also isn’t willing to come out to his family. Pierre isn’t sure if he wants to get into another relationship with a closeted man, but he can’t seem to avoid London. London makes him forget about all his drama with De’Andre and his roommate’s dangerous ex and makes Pierre remember what he wants to do with his life and his cooking skills.
It took me a while to connect with the characters in this novel. I didn’t like the storyline of De’Andre trying to get back together with Pierre, especially not a year after their engagement had been broken up. I wanted Pierre to find someone new and was happy when he started to look for love in other places. He was going to get started on the bistro, and he was also working on maintaining his successful journalism career. Then, the story took a bit of a turn. Zola’s ex-boyfriend was getting out of jail, and she was scared that he was going to find her and attack her. Then Pierre was headed to an island, and the story arc with his family’s funeral seemed almost too realistic. Part of his family still on the island thought that the sister who went to America was privileged, while part of his family from America realized that things in the North were not all they were cracked up to be. The family drama kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time!
I could keep up with the romance bits of the story, but the rest confused me. I had completely forgotten about Zola’s ex troubles until suddenly an event happened and I had to backtrack and figure out what was going on. I didn’t even remember what her ex’s name was supposed to be at one point! Then De’Andre’s new girlfriend came into the picture and started stirring up drama, and I just couldn’t keep track of it all. By the time I reached the end of the novel, I felt that the conflicts had been wrapped up pretty nicely. The thing that hadn’t been wrapped up nicely was Pierre’s issues starting the novel. I still didn’t know what was happening with the Bistro and I still didn’t know what was happening with Pierre’s love life. I felt like I had gone on a very long and twisted (and exhilarating) ride just to come full circle.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the romantic parts. Pierre was constantly fighting himself on what moves to make with his new partners. He wanted to take things slow sometimes, but in the heat of the moment, it can be hard to say no. He stuck to his guts and never allowed himself to be pressured into anything that he wasn’t ready for, which I commend him on. He knew that he didn’t want to be anyone’s secret, and he made sure that his partners knew that from the beginning. But even I got as tired as Pierre when the scene would get intense and then just fall completely flat! I hope that Pierre can eventually find true love, and maybe he will in a future novel. I will definitely be waiting.
Overall, I enjoyed this book! Pierre was definitely a likeable character, and I don’t think I have ever read a gay romance novel with a black male character. It’s sad to say, but it is true. Nor do I think I’ve ever read a gay romance with a black female character. These need to exist more, and this book definitely made a good lasting impression on me. I will be looking for more from author Mathis Bailey!
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a diverse gay male romance novel.
I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.
Dr. Malcolm Styles is the charming and adorably sappy hero in The Perks of Higher Ed and The Wish of Xmas Present. Dr. Sky Ellis loves Malcolm just the way he is, including his junk food junkie habits and his love for all things sweet and chocolate. In The Wish of Xmas Present, Sky cooks Malcolm sweet potato pie and triple layer chocolate cake, two family recipes she learned how to make from her mother.
“So, you’d rather have candy corn and caramel apples than the sweet potato pie and triple layer chocolate cake I made you?”
“You made me what?”
“You heard me.”
“Where are they?”
“In your refrigerator.”
“How did you get them in there?”
“I used the spare key you left at my apartment.”
“You little… I don’t care. Let’s go.”
Yes, Malcolm loves desserts almost as much as he loves Sky.
“Since you didn’t bring any whipping cream, buy some for my birthday trip. Butterscotch, caramel, orange, or lemon. Chocolate, salted peanut butter, and brown sugar cinnamon would be redundant. I got those already taken care of.”
Sky’s eyes snapped open and stared at Malcolm. “You did not just say that.”
“You know I’m right. Chocolate, salted peanut butter, and brown sugar cinnamon, you’re getting all three now.” He pulled Sky even closer and whispered in her ear. “You love it. It’s okay to admit being a Malcolm Styles junk food junkie. I’m the best kind of food addiction, and you get a work out when you have me. A win-win.”
Now that Malcolm knows Sky is a whiz in the kitchen, especially with desserts, he made her a top ten list of his favorite holiday desserts. He’s hoping, with a bit of coaxing and a lot of kissing, Sky will make his holiday dream come true. If you think sweet treats are Malcolm’s only wish for Christmas, think again. Our romantic and sappy hero has plans for Sky, a present for their future.
The Wish of Xmas Present
The Styles of Love
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Holiday Romance Publisher: Kuumba Publishing Date of Publication: December 21, 2018
Number of pages: 292
Word Count: 80k
Cover Artist: Limabean Designs
Tagline: The greatest gift of all is the love we share with each other…
As love blooms and familial bonds are forged, the spirit of the season welcomes us home and offers us a chance to dream. Dr. Malcolm Styles and Dr. Sky Ellis’s whirlwind office romance, a sexy perk of higher ed, has swept them off their feet. Now that the winds of change have settled, Malcolm and Sky find, as the Christmas holiday approaches, a chance to make a deeper connection.
For Malcolm, he has only one wish for the winter holiday of goodwill, mistletoe, and decorations. Will his wish make it to Santa’s list, granting Malcolm a joyful Noel, or will Jack Frost smother his cheer in a blizzard of disappointment?
As Malcolm and Sky traverse the landscape of romance and love, they find themselves on a journey of self-discovery and bonding. For ‘tis the season of caring and with it comes the blessings of family, hope, and faith.
Malcolm and Skye’s relationship continues in this sequel to _. Malcolm wants to ask Skye to marry him, but he isn’t sure if she is ready. As he asks her friends and family members for advice, they all tell him to wait. Nevertheless, he knows that he wants to marry her, and he is willing to wait as long as he has to.
Skye is opening up to him more and more, and she starts thinking about the possibility of marriage. But before she can even think about starting her future, she has to face her past and her present: her father. Her father wants to come into her life again, but Skye doesn’t know if she is ready for that Malcolm wants her to try, and she just might be willing to try for him.
I loved Malcolm and Skye’s relationship in the first novel, so I was excited to continue reading about it in this book! The two got so much closer in this novel, and it was beautiful to see how their relationship grew.
Malcolm’s relationship with his sister and brother in law has grown, as Angie recovers from her accident. Angie doesn’t want to let her husband constantly take care of her, but she also needs help to complete basic tasks. I loved her character, as she was so spunky and always had motivation, even as she was sick.
We learn more of Skye’s backstory in this novel, and the truth about her relationship with her father. Every page revealed a new secret, and I was on the edge of my seat for the entire novel. The novel even tells the story from the point of view of Skye’s mother, Sade. You never heard much about her in the previous novels, as she has already passed away at the start of book one.
The story moved smoothly yet quickly, and I sped through the book almost completely in one sitting. I was rooting for Malcolm and Skye the whole time, and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new adult romance novel.
I received an advance copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 books
About the Author:
N. D. Jones is a USA Today bestselling author who lives in Maryland with her husband and two children. She is a dedicated educator, committed to equitable and excellent education for all students. N.D. has served in the role as teacher, department chair, and professional development teacher specialist, supporting the learning of students and the professional growth of teachers.
N.D. is the founder of Kuumba Publishing, an art, audiobook, eBook, and paperback company. Kuumba Publishing is a forum for creativity, with a special commitment to promoting and encouraging creative works of authors and artists of African descent. Her teenage daughter created the image design for Kuumba Publishing, while her son has written a role playing game original character bio for a new paranormal romance series–making Kuumba Publishing a true family affair.
A desire to see more novels with positive, sexy, and three-dimensional African American characters as soul mates, friends, and lovers, inspired the author to take on the challenge of penning such romantic reads. She is the author of two paranormal romance series: Winged Warriors and Death and Destiny. She’s also embarked on a science fiction romance series, Forever Yours. N.D. likes to read historical and paranormal romance novels, as well as comics and manga.
Payton Skky is beautiful and popular and dating Dakari Graham, the most attractive and desirable guy in their Georgia high school. The problem? He wants to have sex with her while she wants to obey God and stay pure until marriage. With pressures coming from all sides, Payton begins to wonder if waiting is really worth it. When he breaks it off with her for a more willing girl, Payton’s world crashes down on her. As she struggles to answer these questions and gets to know Tad Taylor, Payton realizes that following God is the real secret to staying pure.
I’ll be honest, it’s been a bit since I read a strictly Christian YA novel. Even though I am Christian, other Christians have been being so hateful lately that I have actually been too scared to even pick up any Christian fiction novels. Then I remembered Mrs. Moore’s Carmen Browne series from when I was younger and decided that I would give the Payton Skky series a try. Boy, was I in for a treat!
Payton wants to do what she believes God wants her to do and stay a virgin until marriage, but her boyfriend Dakari keeps pressuring her into having sex with him. She can’t deny that she has those feelings too, and she doesn’t want to lose the best and only boyfriend she has ever had. Even though the book focused on this issue from a Christian perspective, this is an issue that many teen girls and boys deal with. Yes, sometimes even the girlfriend of the relationship wants to do more than what the boy is ready for. She almost gives in, but by that point, he is already onto some other girl. This is the sad truth for those types of teenage relationships where a person is rushing for only the physical part of the relationship, they usually don’t end well. Then, she has a friend named Lynzi who has no problem with having sex with her boyfriend, but even he isn’t loyal to her. This story teaches teenage readers that the only way to have a healthy relationship is to find a healthy person to have that relationship with.
I’ll admit, I didn’t like Payton that much at certain times in the book. She did act immature at many times and even had somewhat of a “holier-than-thou” attitude with most of her friends. By the middle of the book, she starts to humble herself and realize that she was really no better than the other kids her age. This character development was important for the story, but it couldn’t stop me from disliking the person that Payton was at the beginning of the story.
I enjoyed the character Tad, but I don’t believe that any person can be as “perfect” as he seems to be. Sure, he is Christian and is also happy to bring God into their relationship and wait to be intimate, but something just tells me that something will happen along the line to pull the two apart. It just seems unrealistic that she would find a guy that fits everything that both she and her parents wanted in a boyfriend. Even making it that he was on the wrong path and then changed in high school through going to church would make him more realistic.
Even though I had these small issues, I enjoyed the overall story! I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a YA Christian fiction novel with African-American characters.
Austin Channing Brown’s first encounter with a racialized America came at age 7, when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. Growing up in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches, Austin writes, “I had to learn what it means to love blackness,” a journey that led to a lifetime spent navigating America’s racial divide as a writer, speaker and expert who helps organizations practice genuine inclusion.
In a time when nearly all institutions (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claim to value “diversity” in their mission statements, I’m Still Here is a powerful account of how and why our actions so often fall short of our words. Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice, in stories that bear witness to the complexity of America’s social fabric–from Black Cleveland neighborhoods to private schools in the middle-class suburbs, from prison walls to the boardrooms at majority-white organizations.
This was definitely an important novel in this day and age. Mrs. Austin really talks about important issues that stem from being black in everyday life and being black in the business world. Little things that most people would just ignore really hurt Austin, such as when a girl at her school says that a black person took her place at her dream college due to affirmative action and no one decided to correct her. She had to learn how to fight through the silent prejudice at work, like when her coworkers thought she was being impersonal by leaving right after the meetings and not staying to chat, even though other people did the same thing. She even had to fight the racism within the church, the last place that she thought she would see it.
This powerful story truly shows how deep people’s prejudice could be, and revealed the subtle ways that they choose to show it. By calling people out on it and letting others know that this type of racism is still occurring, things might actually start to change for the better.
I appreciated the fact that this book was written completely in chronological order. This allowed me to see how Austin went from not understanding the racist ideals around her, to feeling as if she couldn’t escape them. Even as a reader I felt depressed reading about Austin’s work and church environment.
I also know the church racism all too well. Many people don’t know that I am a Lutheran, and have been all of my life. I have also gone to a mixed-race church and a predominantly island/African American church. Honestly, I have seen more discrimination in the predominantly island/African American church! People who are Christians might claim to love each other, and they might accept other black people coming to the church, but they don’t want anyone “different.” If someone is “too poor”, white, hasn’t come to church often enough, or gay, they wouldn’t even try to hide the fact that they aren’t welcome. If we want to work together towards ending these thigns, we can’t say “no discrimination and racism as long as you fit these conditions,” we have to say No Discrimination and Racism PERIOD.
This book has a lot to say, and I hope that more people pick it up to hear its message. I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for an inspirational novel discussing racism and prejudice in modern America and the modern church.
Shannon has struggled with a drinking problem for years, and she traces back the cause of this issue to her father, who was also a heavy drinker. This story discusses the generational issue of alcoholism, and how two people years apart were determined to overcome their inner demons.
This book discusses the issue of how alcoholism can infiltrate generations of people. Shannon’s father was taught to be an alcoholic by his mother, and he, in turn, taught his daughter to do the same exact thing. It is hard to break the habit after he had been drinking for so long, but he was determined to do it, and so was she. This story was definitely inspirational, as they were both able to work on breaking their generational curse. It was also interesting to see that because her grandmother and her father were both alcoholics, Shannon already had the ability to drink a lot of alcohol without becoming intoxicated. This didn’t mean that she wasn’t damaging her liver, but it did mean that in order to get drunk she had to purchase a lot more alcohol than her friends did. It’s interesting to see how the genes played a part in this “curse.”
I had the same awkwardness in this book as there was in Giving Birth to HIV, but it just seemed more prominent since this story is so short. In fact, the story is only about 40 pages and then the other 30 or so pages are the article. Again, the article was interesting, but I would have liked to see a little more story for this novel, especially since the subject matter was so interesting!
The thing that I liked the most of the book was the fact that there were interviews throughout with Shannon and her father. It gave it a very personable feel as if I was seeing one of their private conversations.
This novel would be good for anyone who wants to learn more about how alcoholism can affect generations, and who also wants encouragement on their own journey.
I received a copy of this novel and this is my voluntary review.
At the age of 27, Shannon married a man nearly twice her age who had been diagnosed with HIV. She still wanted to have children with him, but she didn’t know if her children would also be HIV positive. The couple must overcome the people judging them due to their age difference and Tony’s HIV positive status. Nevertheless, the two are determined to make it through.
This story definitely tells people the truth about HIV. Even though the couple may never be able to have children without expensive medical procedures, they can definitely find love.
Even though the age difference could throw some people off of the novel, I think that Shannon and Tony’s relationship was very sweet. Even though they had their differences and trust issues, they were able to work through it and be happily married. Shannon had already had such bad experiences with men that Tony was really who she needed to feel loved and appreciated.
I also like how this book teaches readers that HIV is not a death sentence. Tony had been dealing with HIV for many years, but he was still alive and kicking. Even though he didn’t originally tell Shannon about his HIV positive status, he didn’t do anything that would have put her in danger of catching HIV. It was the stigma behind the disease that almost caused their relationship to be destroyed, not Tony’s actions.
I think that the only two real issues that I had with this book were that I thought the title was a little misleading and that the story felt like it was “told.” I can’t say why I thought that the title was misleading, as it is a major spoiler, but I can say why I felt that the story was “told.” As I was reading, sometimes the author would seem to go off on a bit of an unrelated tangent before getting back into the main storyline. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing when someone is narrating a story aloud, but it did feel rather awkward to read. It messed up the flow of the story as sometimes a paragraph would be going in two completely different directions.
One thing that I did appreciate was the fact that at the end of the story, there was an article about HIV that told some important facts about the disease and the effects of it. I learned quite a few things from reading that, and it fit the story quite well to focus on some of the things that had been previously discussed.
The overall story is pretty short and would be good for reading on an afternoon if you wanted to read a sweet story about romance despite an HIV diagnosis. If you can overlook the slight awkwardness of the storytelling, this would still be an enjoyable and educational story for you.
I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.
Maya Aziz wants to be a good Indian daughter for her parents, marry another Muslim Indian boy, and get a “good” job. However, she has dreams of going to NYU, and she wants to be a filmmaker. She is also torn between dating the good Muslim boy that her mother had chosen for her, and her friend Phil who she has secretly crushed on for a while but who has just recently become single. She tries to convince her parents to let her go, and when they seem to be relenting a little, the worst thing possible happens. A “terrorist attack” occurs a few hundred miles away from where she lives, but the accused perpetrator has the same last name as her and her family. Now, hateful members of their community are coming after her and her family, thinking that they have some sort of link to the attacker. Maya has to find her own way to still go to school through this, and she still wants to follow her dreams and go to NYU.
First, let’s talk about Maya and her family. At first, they seem to have everything together. But then, when things start to get dicey, they never seem to talk to each other and only want to do things impulsively. I think that rather than springing NYU on her parents the way she did, Maya should have brought it up to her parents far before the deadline, and then done things to prove that she was responsible enough to go. She acted as irresponsibly as her parents expected her to be, which could have contributed to the conflict of the book. Maybe, she could have made a short film online and garnered support for it on Youtube or something. Just to prove to her parents that people would enjoy her work. Anything to prove that she had the ability to truly become a filmmaker.
I also wish that more of her time had been spent with Violet! Her best friend was literally willing to follow her and help her out with ANYTHING, but she spends very little time in the book focusing on her, but instead spends most of her time focusing on the Muslim boy that her mom set her up with and Phil. Also, even though she says that Phil was her friend before they started liking each other, I got the feeling that they didn’t really know that much about each other. I was expecting them to be like “childhood friends to lovers,” but they seemed to just be high schoolers that occasionally saw each other and decided to start dating one day.
Maya’s aunt was wonderful! Hina always wanted to help Maya follow her dreams, as she had gone against everything to follow hers. It was strange for Maya’s mom to say that she had constantly supported Hina, but then not want to support her own daughter. It was sort of like her mother saying “I supported you, but I never really liked what you were doing, and I think that you ultimately failed in life.” I think that this must have been really hurtful for Hina, but she still supports Maya in her dreams, which is admirable.
I won’t say much about the end, but I will just say that I wasn’t happy with the way Maya settled things with her parents. I especially didn’t like what she did to try and “find herself” again, I thought it was really immature and did nothing but show her parents that she really wasn’t ready. Her parents did love her, but she basically doesn’t consider their feelings at all. Her mother was portrayed as only caring if Maya was married, and Maya has a scene where she is slightly jealous of someone talking about memories of playing with their mother. I’m sure that Maya’s mother wasn’t cold-hearted and strict throughout Maya’s entire life. If that was so, Maya would not have been able to have a video camera and would have had far stricter rules to follow than she did. This portrayal of Maya’s parents as being “evil” contradicted some of the things that her parents did in the book itself, and it just made the story even more unrealistic.
Something else worth mentioning is that Maya is not portrayed as being very Muslim. There is a scene where the “good Muslim boy” drinks wine and says that his parents drink wine, but “at least they don’t eat pork.” While I may not be Muslim, one of my good friends is, I know a lot of other people who are, and I saw the other reviews on Goodreads saying that this doesn’t even make sense. There is no such thing as a “good sin” or a “bad sin,” so they should not be drinking at all. It would be interesting if they also spoke about wearing the hijab and then taking it off to protect themselves after the attack, but the family never even goes to the mosque and Maya doesn’t wear a hijab. It actually would have even been interesting to talk about the mosque being attacked as a hate crime, but they don’t go so they wouldn’t know.
I did enjoy the portrayal of Indian culture though. If you are looking for a book that includes a character that is Indian and speaks a lot about that part of her culture, this would definitely be the book for you. It talks about everything from the food to the weddings. But the Muslim culture is barely even mentioned in this novel.
Overall, this novel was pretty average for me. If the family had been portrayed in a more positive light, and Maya had been a bit more responsible, I think that I would have liked it more. Instead, I was reading a book about a fairly immature 17-year-old girl who “hates” her family, and wants to become a filmmaker. The only thing I could truly recommend it for would be the accurate portrayal of how hate affects America, and Indian culture. That’s if you can get through the scenes with Maya that will undoubtedly irritate you.