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The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali

Written by: Sabina Khan
Narrated by: Richa Shukla
Length: 8 hrs and 31 mins
Price: CDN$ 24.55
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Publisher's Summary

With a welcome mix of humor, heart, and high-stakes drama, Sabina Khan provides a timely and honest portrait of what it's like to grow up feeling unwelcome in your own culture.  

Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents' expectations, but lately she's finding that impossible to do. She rolls her eyes when they blatantly favor her brother and saves her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don't know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech. But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana's plans fall apart.  

Her parents are devastated and decide to whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Through reading her grandmother's old diary, Rukhsana gains some much-needed perspective and realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love without losing the connection to her family as a consequence.

©2019 Sabina Khan (P)2019 Scholastic Inc.

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  • Audiobookhoe
  • 2019-01-31

Sabina the life slayer...

This book was heavy. It dealt with generational sexual abuse, homophobia, conversion therapy, cultural expectations, arranged marriages, colorism, I almost want to ask what didn't it bring up.

This story followed a Bengali-Bangladeshi American teen who was a lesbian. She'd always dealt with being less than her brother, or having different expectations than him, even though she actually cared about going to a great college, and it wasn't necessarily his dream to. He was so supportive, and to be honest, outside of her parents(initially) most her family was supportive of her queerness. However, since she wasn't out, and dating a white girl who knew NOTHING about what it was like to be in a conservative South Asian family and community, since she was a teenager, she didn't always make decisions that would have hide her secret long enough to get her until college before them finding out.

Upon her parents learning she was queer, they didn't react well to it, forcing the heroine to see a side to her parents she'd never seen. She didn't realize how liberal they'd been raising her, as soon after she was forced to stay in Bangladesh to care for her ailing grandmother.

There she finds out it was a hoax to attempt to marry her, as each attempt she makes to leave her family are met with a lot of walls. She has this beautiful culture shown through food, clothes, members of her family and community, but so much of her livelihood is beind taken away until she accepts an engagement.

I think I understood where her mother and father were coming from. So much of communities of color struggle with honor and respect, and saving face and we all haven't caught up with the times, especially her conservative Asian born parents. But what I didnt expect was her mother, who the entire book had been set up to be this horrible villain, to have her own terrible trauma she'd lived through, that it made me feel like American born PoCs dont make strong efforts to understand where their parents are coming from.

Even me, I struggle hearing and coming to terms with my mother's abuse as a child, because as a teen I'd forget she was a person before I was born, so I could totally relate to that narrative.

The standout character, her potential husband was so amazing. I didn't love how his character was handled, but I think it highlighted a very real and dangerous reality for many queer people living in conservative countries.

This story was so amazing, but so horrible in how it didn't hide what I know about South Asian culture(really strong colorism.anti-blackness) abuse, physical, mental, emotional and sexual, even family members.

This book was so important, I can't say I walked in thinking it was going to be as good as it was. I'm so amazed at the story, I really hope a sophomore effort comes soon, because we need more stories like this, and so much Asian rep is told from an East Asian perspective.

It was hard for everyone in this book. I don't think a single person didn't suffer throughout this story. I'm hesitant to give stories that focus on brown and black pain a lot words, but I don't think my review did how well this book was done, justice.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • 2019-02-12

Coming of age story

Honestly I love everything about this story. I love how dynamic the main character is and how the story evoked a range of emotions. I truly felt like my friend was telling me a story rather than I was reading a story. Rukhsana is a very lovable character from the start though- she had moments towards the end where I wasn’t found of her. Her parents were loveable as well and I was cheering them on as they made THE right choice to accept their daughter. I 100% whole heartedly recommend this book to all book lovers.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful