The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali
Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving 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, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective. Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?

The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali Details

TitleThe Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali
Author
ReleaseJan 29th, 2019
PublisherScholastic Press
ISBN-139781338227017
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Contemporary, Lgbt

The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali Review

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    3 1/2 stars because I can’t tell how I felt about this at all. The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali follows Rukhsana, a gay girl who is sent to Bangladesh and put into an arranged marriage after being caught in kissing her girlfriend.So despite my three-star, there were a lot of fantastic aspects of this that I’m sure many will really enjoy!! The representation of Bengali culture is #ownvoices and feels very full-of-heart. Rukhsana’s situation is handled with a good deal of care; her scenario is ve 3 1/2 stars because I can’t tell how I felt about this at all. The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali follows Rukhsana, a gay girl who is sent to Bangladesh and put into an arranged marriage after being caught in kissing her girlfriend.So despite my three-star, there were a lot of fantastic aspects of this that I’m sure many will really enjoy!! The representation of Bengali culture is #ownvoices and feels very full-of-heart. Rukhsana’s situation is handled with a good deal of care; her scenario is very, very terrifying. I think the value of this book, most of all, is its representation of the fact that not every Bengali person thinks the same way, as American media outlets and White American cultural often And indeed, even the thoughts of Rukhsana’s parents are influenced by their background; as fucked up as what they are doing is, they are not portrayed as evil people, simply misguided ones. Primarily, however, I adored how supportive other parts of Rukhsana’s family was. Aunty Meena’s lesbianism conversation was so iconic. Shaila is so supportive, and her relationship with Rukhsana is such a nice touch; I’ve never really noticed this, but I don’t think cousins are often major players in YA books? Nani, Rukhsana’s grandmother, is an utterly fantastic character; her story absolutely kills me. Many of her other characters work as well: Sohail, especially, is a great character. And I loved this conversation Rukhsana has with her friends: “Every time I say something bad about my family, it becomes more about where I come from than just regular stuff people go through with their parents.” And all those aspects were so fantastic, and I think my main problem with this was the writing was… not amazing. There was a huge degree of tell and not show. Occasionally, Rukhsana would change emotions between paragraphs. And the plot points often felt really random and thrown in. So… I think I would have four starred this, until… the one thing. Let me try to explain this. I am someone who really does not click with surprise twists in which you think everything is going to be good again, and then it all goes to shit. I am especially unhappy with how this particular sadness ocurred. So I guess I really wasn’t happy with one of the plot points at the end of this book; it almost felt like the author just wanted to add in an extra sad thing. It’s impactful and important to point out the extent to which lgbtq people suffer under homophobia, but for me… it deeply did not work. I think this twist… might (heavy emphasis on might) have worked if the book had been more consistent about themes, but it honestly just felt like… a really out-of-taste plot point to me. It is also my #1 least favorite trope that I hate so much and constantly want to die. If you follow my reviews, you… might be able to guess what trope I’m referring to, but you can check the spoiler below if you’re unsure. TW: arranged marriage, colorism, fetishism, heavy discussion and description of sexual assault, (view spoiler)[exorcism, hate crimes against lgbtq people, dead gay characters. (hide spoiler)]✨Arc received from the publisher via Keplers for an honest review. releases: January 29 2019.Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
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  • Fadwa (Word Wonders)
    January 1, 1970
    Actual rating: 4.5 stars*I received an Arc of this book in exchange of an honest review*CW: Colorism, homophobia, islamophobia, physical assault, hospital, graphic description of rape and domestic abuse, starvation, drugging, forced marriage, death of a loved one, hate crime.Full review originally posted on my blog: Word Wonders Uh. How does one start a review for a book that’s ripped them open? I have procrastinated this review for a month and a half, I’ve procrastinated it until I literally Actual rating: 4.5 stars*I received an Arc of this book in exchange of an honest review*CW: Colorism, homophobia, islamophobia, physical assault, hospital, graphic description of rape and domestic abuse, starvation, drugging, forced marriage, death of a loved one, hate crime.Full review originally posted on my blog: Word Wonders Uh. How does one start a review for a book that’s ripped them open? I have procrastinated this review for a month and a half, I’ve procrastinated it until I literally couldn’t procrastinate it anymore. Because every time I opened the page to start typing it up I felt like I was cracking my heart open and giving the world permission to peer into it and have a panoramic view of my soul, and that idea alone is terrifying. But here I am today, getting my crap together finally, and refusing to go to sleep (it’s past midnight oops) until I finally string some sentences together that will somehow make up a review at the end.The writing is fairly simple and sometimes…a little scattered, in the way the pacing and emotions were handled. During the first chunk of the book (around a third I’d say), the writing is detached and doesn’t translate the emotions the characters are feeling and that we’re supposed to be feeling with them well. Especially when it came to Rukhsana’s relationship with Ariana, I rooted for them out of principle, and because of how much was at stake, but not because I was invested in them. There was also this thing that happened quite a few times where Rukhsana’s feelings would change from one paragraph to the next. Which is the only reason I ended up not giving the book five starts. Everything else was absolutely amazing. And I was too emotionally invested in the book to rate it any less than 4.5.The story goes like this: Rukhsana, A Bengladeshi lesbian Muslim girl who’s closeted has a girlfriend, but she also has unaccepting parents. Said parents find out about the girlfriend and everything goes up in flames. And I don’t say that lightely. Everything that happens to Rukhsana is a queer person who’s been brought up in a conservative household’s worst nightmare. I found myself fighting panic and anxiety, tears and fury, having to remind myself that yes, these things happen to so many, but this one in particular is a work of fiction. And honestly, just writing this review is bringing tears to my eyes. That’s how gutting and visceral reading The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali was, I kept forgetting that it was a book.Remember how I said emotions didn’t translate properly through the writing in the first chunk? Well, that was reversed in the rest of the book, in fact, I was overwhelmed by feelings. The anger, the fear, the resilience, the hope, the desperation, all of it, I could feel every single thing. And what struck me the most is the loneliness of it all. Rukhsana is very close with her brother, at times, he seems to be the only one who truly understands her struggles, but he’s not there when she needs him the most. Her parents are who she’s fighting against. Her friends and girlfriend come from environments that are a lot more liberal so they don’t understand what’s at stake for her, and the kind of pushback she’s facing and most times make her feel even worse.But then the book surprises you a gives you a sliver of hope in the darkest of corners. Her uncle who pushes back against her parents’ backwards thinking. Irfan, the man she’s forced to marry but who wants the arrangement even less than she does, she finds in him true support and friendship. But most of all, her supportive grandma who is quite frankly a treasure and a well of wisdom. She turned to her words and her guidance whenever she felt helpless and they gave her strength, and I think that the moments she shared with her, or that she spent reading her diary, are the ones that left the biggest mark on me, because they made me realize that bigotry and homophobia aren’t a generational issue, they’re an issue of people being too set in their ways and unwilling to open their hearts. Because if an elderly lady who’s never left her beloved Bangladesh can accept her gay granddaughter without question, there are no excuses for the rest of the world. And that’s another thing I appreciated about the book, is that it showed that everyone has their own personal opinion and stance regardless of their degree of faith, and that’s something that spoke to me very deeply. Rukhsana is such a solid main character, Sabina Khan did a great job at showing how weighted down she was by all the choices that were being made for her and the freedoms that were being stripped away from her, while she still kept teenage characteristics to her. She’s strong, confident, and stubborn but in the best way, she refuses to give up on herself, and give in to what her parents are forcing her to do, and I loved that even during her moments of weakness and complete despair, she still had faith that she could find a way out of that situation.There’s this one plot point towards the end that’s major and changes the direction of the story, that I feel a lot of people would not feel comfortable with. Irfan, Rukhsana’s supposed soon-to-be husband, is killed by this group of hateful people for being gay. And the way we learn about it is quite sudden, I would say unexpected but…that would be a lie. I saw it coming from miles away. Because those are things that sadly happen, especially since Irfan was an activist in a country that was still very set in its ways and where queer people are seen as an abomination by many, and ESPECIALLY since that group had spotted him. That’s also how Rukhsana’s parents start coming around, so in a way, his death teaches them a lesson. But that’s also something that happens. I personally didn’t have any issue with those things being used in the plot, as I could easily see them happen in my own country, (which resembles Bangladesh in a lot of ways) to someone I know, even.This book hit on some very raw and sensitive nerves of mine and for that I can’t help but love it and will forever be grateful for it. Especially, since for how much darkness and despair it holds, the ending is so hopeful and sprinkled with light-hearted moments that had me smiling and sighing with relief. I liked how not every issue was resolved and that Rukhsana still had lot of trauma to work through when it comes to what her parents put her through but there was still this redemption arc that made me see the light at the end of the tunnel and made the future look a lot less glib.
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  • ellie
    January 1, 1970
    edit: THE COVER IS SO CUTE I LOVE IT!!!no i don't think y'all understand how excited i am for this book. it's hard enough to get poc representation for asians, but we're getting lgbt+ asian rep? are you KIDDING? this is everything i didn't think i'd get so soon. growing up part of an oppressive culture that frowns on anyone breaking the tradition made me feel so unhappy because i knew i didn't fit the mold. i was so terrified. and now i'll get to see a character go through that too, even if it i edit: THE COVER IS SO CUTE I LOVE IT!!!no i don't think y'all understand how excited i am for this book. it's hard enough to get poc representation for asians, but we're getting lgbt+ asian rep? are you KIDDING? this is everything i didn't think i'd get so soon. growing up part of an oppressive culture that frowns on anyone breaking the tradition made me feel so unhappy because i knew i didn't fit the mold. i was so terrified. and now i'll get to see a character go through that too, even if it it's islam, and not hinduism. i'll see her struggle to deal with a world that doesn't like her, but it's the only world she knows. i'll see myself in her. for the first time, i can see myself in a character.excuse me while go to i cry my eyes out!
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  • Natasha
    January 1, 1970
    MUSLIM LESBIAN REP I'M HYPED!
  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    Rukhsana has been in a relationship with her girlfriend Ariana for a few months and things are going well. Between them, anyway. Rukhsana hasn't been able to share the excitement of this relationship with many people, though: she's Bengali, and her parents are quite conservative, so she knows her being a lesbian would potentially cause her parents to disown her. But when she and Ariana are caught kissing, things go from potentially scary to downright terrifying.Almost immediately, Rukhsana's par Rukhsana has been in a relationship with her girlfriend Ariana for a few months and things are going well. Between them, anyway. Rukhsana hasn't been able to share the excitement of this relationship with many people, though: she's Bengali, and her parents are quite conservative, so she knows her being a lesbian would potentially cause her parents to disown her. But when she and Ariana are caught kissing, things go from potentially scary to downright terrifying.Almost immediately, Rukhsana's parents tell her that her grandmother in Bangladesh is gravely ill and they need to fly there to spend time with her immediately. But it's all a ruse. It's an opportunity for her parents to find her a suitable husband and marry her off, lest the truth about her sexuality get out and embarrass her parents' good name among the Bengali community in Seattle. Rukhsana and Ariana's relationship is severely tested here, in part because Ariana can't understand the reality of Rukhsana's family life. It's also in part due to Rukhsana not making the leaps she keeps trying to make -- but not necessarily because she doesn't want to. She's hindered again and again. Until she devises a plan with a gay man she's met through her parents. The opportunity presents itself and they leap.This is a moving book about identity and more specifically, about being at the intersection of many marginalized identities. Rukhsana's story is about being queer and being Bengali and having strict family beliefs and rules. It's through her grandmother -- the one her parents pretend is sick -- that she learns that her determination to live her life for herself, how she wants to live it, runs in the family and that her mother's beliefs and actions are due in part (view spoiler)[ to childhood trauma she hasn't shared with Rukhsana (hide spoiler)]. Though the writing is at times repetitive (something, weirdly, Rukhsana herself notes in-text) and not especially polished, the story is excellent and immersive. The settings are lush, filled with sights, sounds, and smells of Bengali culture. Nothing here is written down for the white reader, which is exceptionally refreshing, and more, the characters here are so hard not to root for. Even Rukhsana's mother, who is cast initially as a villain, becomes utterly sympathetic as we unravel her complicated history alongside Rukhsana. (view spoiler)[ And it was so hard not to feel the gut punch alongside her when Sohail is killed on their "wedding day," and she discovers it when she's back safe in Seattle. (hide spoiler)]Pair with Written in the Stars, especially for readers wanting a look at the still-practiced tradition of arranged marriages across cultures. This would also make for an excellent read alike to Sara Farizan's If You Could Be Mine or Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel. I can't wait to read more from Khan.
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  • CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian
    January 1, 1970
    See my Quill & Quire review here!
  • Jackie
    January 1, 1970
    MUSLIM LESBIAN IS ALL I NEEDED TO KNOW TBH
  • Vicky Who Reads
    January 1, 1970
    3 stars I had a lot of high hopes for this book, and I'm really sad that it just was not my favorite read.I think the most notable positive about this book was the fantastic representation of Bengali culture (oh my gosh the food made me drool) and how Rukhsana dealt with racism. She confronts her white friends about ways they made her feel uncomfortable/unwelcome/they were not understanding and this scene was definitely one of my favorites in the book.Similarly, I really enjoyed reading Rukhsana 3 stars I had a lot of high hopes for this book, and I'm really sad that it just was not my favorite read.I think the most notable positive about this book was the fantastic representation of Bengali culture (oh my gosh the food made me drool) and how Rukhsana dealt with racism. She confronts her white friends about ways they made her feel uncomfortable/unwelcome/they were not understanding and this scene was definitely one of my favorites in the book.Similarly, I really enjoyed reading Rukhsana diffuse some of her own assumptions about queer culture in America vs. queer culture in other countries, and talk to some of the queer community members in Bangladesh about queer culture in the country. I think a really huge US-centrism exists and I like how Khan actively talked about that in this book.The premise is just so interesting and something that I expected myself to love! I really enjoyed how it talked about things that aren't normally talked about, and how Rukhsana let girls who aren't normally represented often be represented.But, I think there were just some technical problems in the book that I couldn't ignore, and this is why my rating is so low.I think one of my biggest issues was just that the writing was a little messy and juvenile. It's not like I'm expecting this to be Shakespeare, but the writing just felt uncohesive and kind of rushed.Sometimes Rukhsana would change emotions just like *that* in the middle of a paragraph, and it was kind of disorienting for the reader to read that. It was just a little unpolished-feeling in general--the pacing of the writing was a bit off, the emotions were a bit off, the story didn't necessarily flow.And I firmly believe that this is a craft problem, and something that can 100% be improved in future novels. I am still really interested in seeing what Sabina Khan brings to the table, but right now I just wasn't satisfied with what I got in The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali.Going along with the emotions being off, it kind of felt like the emotional subtext didn't match the plot. I was looking for more parallels with what was going on in Rukhsana's mind and what was going on around her, and sometimes it just felt off and not really aligned. I can't explain it properly, but I think it just didn't fit smoothly enough together that I actually noticed the disconnect.Honestly, I feel like my biggest problem with this was how I feel like Rukhsana honestly didn't learn much. It didn't feel like a journey where Rukhsana grew as a person, but rather a story about how other people learned to accept Rukhsana, not about Rukhsana learning something.I just--I think Rukhsana in the end wasn't actually a very dynamic character. I don't think she learned much and I don't think she really got to experience the true depth of what she went through and the emotional impact of it, and that's largely why I struggled with this book.Plus the plot went a little bit out there.Overall, I think this was a really good concept, but I just feel like the execution was lacking enough that I'm giving this a mediocre star rating. I am excited to see what Khan brings to the table in the future, but right now The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali just wasn't my favorite read.Thank you so much to Sabina Khan for sending me an advance reader's copy in her giveaway!TW: Rape + Domestic AbuseBlog | Instagram | Twitter
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  • Tashie
    January 1, 1970
    *ARC REVIEW i don't think i have the emotional capacity to write an in-depth review for this book. this book hit incredibly close to home as a bangladeshi sapphic. i honestly spent a majority of the book crying and wishing that i could spare rukhsana from what was happening to her. at several points, i had to set the book down because my tears were staining the pages. however, this book is incredibly important and really dives in deep in regards to what it's like to be LGBTQ+ when you're in a no *ARC REVIEW i don't think i have the emotional capacity to write an in-depth review for this book. this book hit incredibly close to home as a bangladeshi sapphic. i honestly spent a majority of the book crying and wishing that i could spare rukhsana from what was happening to her. at several points, i had to set the book down because my tears were staining the pages. however, this book is incredibly important and really dives in deep in regards to what it's like to be LGBTQ+ when you're in a non-western conservative household. please pick this book up when it comes out in january, because there's so much to take away from it.3/22/18this book isn't even out and yet i'm already crying??? a story about a bengali sapphic who gets shipped off to bangladesh after her parents find out? bro this is a Lot
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  • Mandy
    January 1, 1970
    *I received this book at Yallfest - thank you to the publishers for handing them out!*According to the summary on the book, I was supposed to get an emotional read that would have heart and humor - however, I'm not laughing. Before we talk about anything, I need to give the trigger/content warnings because I definitely didn't see any of them coming. And they are HEAVY trigger warnings, and they can be incredibly triggering so I want to put them out there. Warning for: extreme homophobia, abuse, *I received this book at Yallfest - thank you to the publishers for handing them out!*According to the summary on the book, I was supposed to get an emotional read that would have heart and humor - however, I'm not laughing. Before we talk about anything, I need to give the trigger/content warnings because I definitely didn't see any of them coming. And they are HEAVY trigger warnings, and they can be incredibly triggering so I want to put them out there. Warning for: extreme homophobia, abuse, rape, molestation of a minor, graphic murder, conversion therapy, hate crime/murder of a LGBTQIA+ character, drugging against will, and...I think this is it, but honestly, there could have been more. There was a lot.When I first picked this book up, I knew I was getting into an emotional read. We are introduced to Rukhsana who is a Bengali American teen who is living with her conservative parents, her loving brother, and a major secret: she's gay and has a wonderful girlfriend, Ariana. Once she gets into her dream school of Caltech, she is counting down the days when she can live a life with Ariana out in sunny California, and away from the watchful and gossiping eyes of her close knit community. However, once her secret is out, she is promptly whisked back to Bangladesh as she fights to be who she truly is and her love.Again, I knew it was going to be an emotional from the beginning, but I saw the heart and humor in the summary so I was preparing myself for some light in the dark tunnel. The story starts off a bit slow with Rukhsana introducing us to her world. The romance was cute, Rukhsana was a great lead, I really liked Rukhsana's brother and their dynamic, and she had a good friend group - a little not understanding but good. It definitely had a good contemporary vibe, but it was a bit slower paced. I could definitely feel the tension rising, and Khan definitely set it up nicely to give a good introduction to Rukhsana and the important characters before diving into the big moments. I think my biggest issues was the amount of issues that Rukhsana faces in the short amount of this novel. This novel is barely over 300 pages, but we go through a large amount of issues that most of the time didn't have time to be properly addressed. Each one went through so quickly that even though I was shaken from the event, we were whisked through right to the next one without a proper amount of time to let it settle or even see Rukhsana's perspective of it. At one point, I was physically ill over an event, and it immediately seemed to get glazed over to something else that seemed so inconsequential. I'm going to include spoilers for the rest of this review, because I have a lot of things to discuss and there isn't a way to talk about them without describing the events that transpired. As I said: SPOILERS.Once Rukhsana's family finds out that she is a lesbian, they say that they need to go back to Bangladesh to see Rukhsana's ailing grandmother, Nani. They say they will be there for 2 weeks, and then they will be back. I was having some minor issues with this book already, but at this point, I was still invested. They go to Bangladesh, Rukhsana finds that her grandma is having some struggles but isn't in dire straits, and she has a great time with her cousin. Everything seems to be going okay. However, Rukhsana is starting to see there might be some issues since men are starting to be pushed her way and arranged marriages are starting to bubble up to the surface. This was very clear, so she wasn’t doing the whole clueless YA trope thankfully. When she confronts her parents, she discovers that they will not be going back to the US until she agrees to be engaged to a man. She immediately tells them that she will never be married to man, and her father instantly falls to the floor.At first, it seemed like it was a heart attack, although later it was found to be a panic attack? Although I was really confused? When I’ve had panic episodes, I’ve never just dropped to the floor without showing obvious signs? Anyway, Rukhsana is the one that is blamed for her father's almost death/health concerns. Lots of triggering items were said here, and it was horrible to read.The next few chapters are kind of a haze for me. Rukhsana starts making a plan to escape since she is being forced to stay behind. She steals her passport, and starts playing the dutiful daughter. She goes out with the men that her parents push, she hangs out with her cousin, and reconnects with her friends and Ariana. It seemed like we were hiding time until the next big thing happened.However, a day or two before Rukhsana is able to escape, she is found out by her mother. Her mother immediately locks her in her room, and she is not allowed out. She goes on a hunger strikes of sorts, until, like, two days in, her cousin brings her some tea. Rukhsana drinks it, and immediately discovers something is off. It is found out that her tea was drugged, and when she wakes up, there is a jinn catcher, which is basically conversion therapy. According to the mom and the jinn catcher, the reason Rukhsana is a lesbian is because there is a jinn inside her, and they need to get it out.Of course, I was absolutely horrified. It was so abrupt, and I immediately felt sickened. Obviously, I know this happens, but HEART and HUMOR were in the summary so I didn't realize we were getting this dark?? Like, this goes way beyond “oops my parents don’t know and take it badly!!” This is highly disturbing and traumatic and against the law to drug someone. I had to take a break, and I went to Sha about it. After some deep thinking, I decided to go back into it, since I was pretty far into it, and I thought, perhaps this will be the darkest we will get? After this, I believe Rukhsana immediately goes to her grandmother and tells her the truth about her. Nani is rightly disgusted, and provides to be a source of comfort. I didn't mention, but there has been some great voices of support in this including Rukhsana's cousin as well as some friends back home. Nani then gives Rukhsana her diary to read in times of struggle.After this...well, the whole jinn catcher is never brought back up??? The whole thing seems to move on very quickly, and I was a bit shocked that we didn't discuss further. This is a huge thing. It's a huge moment. A huge horrific moment. And I never really got to see what Rukhsana felt about it? I never got to dive into the depth of it. Which was crazy to me because why why why was this not discussed further????? Rukhsana meets up again with a potential suitor who we find out also happens to be gay. I liked this character a lot, but I did feel like we skimmed the surface with him since we only met him in short increments of time. They decided to make a plan where they will run away with each other to get back to the US on the night of their engagement party. Next few chapters include randomness and waiting for the big day. When it comes around, Rukhsana manages to escape, and she gets to the airport. Her fiance never shows, but she manages to get on the airplane and leave. After a little bit, she finally picks up her phone and finds out that her finance was brutally murdered because he was gay. I have to say this was definitely a very hard scene to read. This was the moment that I mentioned above where I felt physically sick was this moment in the book. Earlier in the book, it was mentioned that some guys at work with this fiance were aggressive toward LGBTQIA+ people, but I have to say that I didn't fully expect this. It was horrible and heartbreaking and the mentions of it did get graphic which made me feel sick to my stomach. I just...I have no words. No words to describe it all. It was talked about for a bit, but the next day in the book, Rukhsana calls up one of her friends and Jen is like, "How have you been" and Rukhsana is like, "Well, I've been better. Can you drive me to school to deal with this schooling issue so I can get into Caltech??" and then we go through all of this and like WHERE IS THE CARE AND DEPTH AND CONVERSATION ABOUT WHAT JUST HAPPENED? SOMEONE WAS MURDERED. SOMEONE she knew and cared for and because he was gay. We immediately went onto the next plot point, and this was something that was incredibly traumatizing that needed to be dealt with..A lot of other things are happening, and then Rukhsana's parents come back. Rukhsana is rightly angry and hurt because of the things they did. However, Rukhsana keeps getting pushed to talk to them because the death has "affected" them. It has supposedly changed their minds and how they perceive the world. It goes on for a few pages/short chapters until Rukhsana finally agrees to sit down and have a conversation with her mom. They talk for a bit, and Rukhsana makes some points, Mom apologizes, and then they...are good to go? Rukhsana says that her mom has a lot to make up for, but they cry and hug and...literally they start to talk about schools in the next breath and how she's good with Caltech and everything is great. This. Was. Crazy. To. Me. Obviously more went into this, but the rest of the book is the heart and happy and humor that was mentioned. However, HOW. HOWWWWWWw. This book dealt with two incredibly heinous things, and then, like, everything is happy and pleasing and peachy??? I literally went through the rest of the book in a daze. Rukhsana's family were so invested in finding Rukhsana a good Bengali girl and finding out more, and there was a moment I snorted out loud especially with her Aunty. Howeverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. This is the book where there was conversion therapy??? And locking into the room??? And forcing her into an unhappy marriage?? It was an abrupt 180, because NOTHING seemed like it was going to come to a happy resolution??? It just blew my mind. Of course, happy resolution are good, but Rukhsana's forgiveness seemed to invalidate all of the terrible things that happened to her because of her family's actions. They were TERRIBLE things, things against the LAW, and everything was mostly good? I just...I don't know how to process it. And then there is the diary. If all of these things weren't incredibly triggering enough, Rukshana reads her Nani's diary. It includes stories of her Nani as she enters into her marriage with Rukshana's grandfather. It includes stories of Nani being raped by her husband, abuse from the husband and mother-in-law, the molestation of her daughter (Rukhsana's mother), and the fact that Nani pretty much orchestrated the husband's murder. Just...I just...they were just casual mentions and droppings of these events which are heinous, vile things and we just get a few sentences and just...? I have no words?I'm honestly not sure what to do with this book. This book does show that there is those that support LGBTQIA+ in the Bengali community, and it's representative of inclusion. There are many friends and Nani who accept Rukhsana for who she is and doesn't try to change her. However, I felt like a lot of these characters didn't stand out as much as those that were hateful. And there was just SO much. So many terrible things, and we only had moments to deal with them. Only a few moments to discuss and get Rukhsana's perspective into the next thing. And there was so many triggering moments and items, and I just...I don't understand. I don't understand where this was all supposed to go. I feel like any good that was given with those that were supported was drowned out by the terrible and traumatizing items that happened in the book. It's certainly all I can remember. The characters really weren't that memorable, and even though I did like Rukhsana's voice, with all the rushing, I felt like I lost depth with her. Other side characters were nice but not great - nothing that just immediately was like I LOVE. My favorite character was probably Nani and Rukhsana's cousin. The ending moments would have been cute and fun had not all of the other things happened. I liked her and Ariana's romance a lot in the beginning, but Ariana was a super messy character for me. The culture was infused nicely, and the diversity was amazing to see. And I think I've made my points clear on what I thought about the pacing. This review is already incredibly long, and I'm not sure that any of it makes sense. I'm just...I'm so lost with this book, but this book was a lot, and I wish we had more depth. I just...I'm not sure.
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  • kav (xreadingsolacex)
    January 1, 1970
    disclaimer: i received an arc in exchange for an honest review. this is no way impacted my opinions. trigger warnings: homophobia, colorism, emotional & physical abuse, hate crimes, implied rape/sexual assault (all of these are combated and not okay-ed, but they are definitely existing themes throughout the book) You have no idea how hard it is to constantly feel like you have to represent your entire culture. Sandhya Menon, the author of When Dimple Met Rishi, blurbs this novel by sayi disclaimer: i received an arc in exchange for an honest review. this is no way impacted my opinions. trigger warnings: homophobia, colorism, emotional & physical abuse, hate crimes, implied rape/sexual assault (all of these are combated and not okay-ed, but they are definitely existing themes throughout the book) You have no idea how hard it is to constantly feel like you have to represent your entire culture. Sandhya Menon, the author of When Dimple Met Rishi, blurbs this novel by saying "This book will break your heart and then piece it back together again." I firmly believe that this completely represent my experience with this novel.The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan is a young-adult contemporary novel about seventeen-year-old Rukhsana, a Muslim Bangladeshi lesbian who has dreams of escaping her situation by attending a college far away with her girlfriend, Arianna, until her parents find out about their relationship and whisk her away to Bangladesh to instill their homophobic beliefs on her.This book is phenomenal in Every. Single. Way.I am not going to lie to you. It is not an easy read. It is an unbelievably difficult read. It deals with heavy themes, but it deals with necessary themes. It is heartbreakingly honest and real, and despite all of the heartarche, it does lead to a good outcome. (I feel that some queer readers would like to know this novel has a happy ending because many novels dealing with this thematic content do not.)Rukhsana was just a phenomenal narrator. She is a mature young woman with her happy ending in sight, and that is all stolen from her by the two people who are supposed to love her most. She is comfortable in her own sexuality as a lesbian, but understands the danger she is in as a lesbian in her community; she is proud of her culture and heritage, but is willing to call out the issues (esp. sexism and homophobia) that exist within it; she is ready to experience her happy ending. But in spite of the phenomenal narrator, this novel is heartwrenchingly cruel at times. Rukhsana's friends and girlfriend struggle to understand her culture, while her parents refuse to accept her sexuality. Rukhsana struggles to find anyone in her life that truly gets it.But she also finds support at times.And that is something that it so well-expressed in this novel:Not all people from one culture/religion are the same. Not all South Asians are homophobic. Not all American are accepting of queerness.Rukhsana's journey is unflinchingly honest and it is the reality for far too many people. I've read books where a queer main character is not accepted (to say the least) by their loved ones, but I've never read this in the experience of a brown queer main character.I don't want to give any spoilers for this phenomenal piece of art. I do want to warn you all that it is a heavy and intense read, but if you can handle it, I highly urge you to pick it up.Khan is an exquisitely talented writer who released a provoking and relevant debut that will change the world of so many queer brown teens.
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  • rachel
    January 1, 1970
    I really liked this one A LOT. It reminded me and would be a good fit for fans of Written In the Stars by Aisha Saeed (it's like the LGBTQ version).
  • Shortcake
    January 1, 1970
    This looks really, really good!! I'm so readyyyyy
  • anna (readingpeaches)
    January 1, 1970
    pls i'm exhausted just let gay kids live their lives in peace
  • Lior
    January 1, 1970
    This sounds heart wrenching, I'm in
  • Mel
    January 1, 1970
    This book was by no means a bad book. In fact it kept me interested and invested throughout the entire novel and I read a good 2/3 of it in one sitting. However, I did have some issues.Please Note: This was sent to be unsolicited by Scholastic but all thoughts are my own.This will be spoiler free.This story follows Rukhsana Ali, a Bangladeshi girl, who is a lesbian and is hiding that part of her life from her family and community. One day her very conservative parents catch her kissing her girlf This book was by no means a bad book. In fact it kept me interested and invested throughout the entire novel and I read a good 2/3 of it in one sitting. However, I did have some issues.Please Note: This was sent to be unsolicited by Scholastic but all thoughts are my own.This will be spoiler free.This story follows Rukhsana Ali, a Bangladeshi girl, who is a lesbian and is hiding that part of her life from her family and community. One day her very conservative parents catch her kissing her girlfriend and then the book takes off from there. It's definitely got good messages about family, tradition, and talks a lot about what it's like to be LGBT in places where it's not only considered morally wrong according to the religion, but is actually illegal. This is an own voices book as the author is Bangladeshi, but I also read that her daughter coming out as a lesbian is what inspired her to read this book, so I am sure she also had a lot of help with the LGBT aspects as well. I liked that the author was really good with showing how society has helped younger generations be more open minded about things, but also that not everyone thinks and reacts the same to a given situation, and that sometimes love for your family will override what you believe in. I particularly liked the culture and learning about the traditions (particularly wedding traditions) and the food. I will say though the descriptions were not always my favourite part, but I felt the colour of the Sari's and spices of the food coming through the page.Unfortunately, the bad in this book rests solely on the writing and development for me. I don't give trigger warnings, I have my own personal reasons for that and I won't get into them here, but I really do need to warn you that if you have any type of eating disorder, or have suffered from one in the past, whether it's over-eating or anorexia/bulimia, you will want to stay far far away from this book. There's mentions of food on every page. There's mentions of cooking and eating on every page. The second half of the book has a lot of restaurant scenes. And while I am sure Sabina Khan was including the descriptions of food as a way to educate others about her culture and food, it was way way way over the top. The descriptions of the food also came with descriptions of eating. I just felt that at a certain point I did not need excessive scenes about making Chai and eating food and felt this was used to fill pages more than anything else.There is an absurd amount of crying in this book. Everything led to crying, and while yes it's an emotional subject and the characters obviously went through emotional things, the crying was excessive. Near the end of the book, the last 1/4 I'd say, there are 3-4 mentions of someone crying on every page. It's excessive, and irritating, and the quantity of it took me away from the story. The writing in this book wasn't bad by any means, I was still addicted to it as I said, but it wasn't developed enough. I cared for the main character in a loose sort of way, like her situation I cared about but her in particular not really. There was 0 emotional depth to the relationship she has with her girlfriend and I found myself not really caring about anything the characters were doing to be with one another because I didn't really care about the relationship. I also found scenes choppy and lacking depth as well. There was just some inconsistency in the writing and overall I think it was a lot of show not tell. Overall, I am not sure whether I would recommend this or not. This is not a genre I read often as I find it very hard to relate to religious views that I consider close-minded. I am not religious by any means so I got frustrated easily with the way people were reacting to her being a lesbian, but I think that the author did a good job of like being understanding about that and helping readers like me understand the way people think and why they might think the way they do.So whether you decide to read this or not I will leave up to your discretion as I don't have a lot of knowledge in this specific type of book.
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  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    E ARC from Edelweiss PlusI loved this one, and the way that Rukhsana tries to make her family happy even though what they want for her is not at all what she wants! I would definitely purchase it for high school, but I find that my students aren't quite ready to worry about college just yet, and romances set in high school tend to be much more angst ridden than middle school ones. I enjoyed this, though! Lots of good descriptions of food!
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  • Tova
    January 1, 1970
    This might be my most anticipated release of 2019. Like it sounds like an LGBT version of my favorite book of 2017 Written in the Stars set partially in Seattle (which I'm excited about because my brother and best friend live there and I live close to there) and Bangladesh. I'm hyped.
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  • saif
    January 1, 1970
    ~arc review~tw: homophobic parents, graphic desprcriptions of rape and abuseomfg yall are not ready for the brilliance that is the love and lies of rukhsana ali.T H E G O O D- can we just take a moment to appreciate the representation???? i can't speak for the bengali/queer rep, BUT i can say that as a muslim, i could not be happier with how the book handled muslim characters. i was SO worried that it wasn't going to have the greatest rep, but it was honestly one of the best that i have ever rea ~arc review~tw: homophobic parents, graphic desprcriptions of rape and abuseomfg yall are not ready for the brilliance that is the love and lies of rukhsana ali.T H E G O O D- can we just take a moment to appreciate the representation???? i can't speak for the bengali/queer rep, BUT i can say that as a muslim, i could not be happier with how the book handled muslim characters. i was SO worried that it wasn't going to have the greatest rep, but it was honestly one of the best that i have ever read.- i love that the novel did NOT depict most muslims as homophobic. i going into this book i was so scared that 90% of the muslim characters were going to have close-minded ideologies about the lgbt community, but that is not how it handled it.- even though the parents were trash for 90% of the novel i could not help but love how well crafted and how well written they were. their character arcs were just 👌👌- nani's character was by far the best one. reading things from her pov were so heartbreaking and yet so beautiful at the same time. - this line one line made me tear up: "i guess because every time i say something bad about my family, it becomes more about where i come from than just regular stuff that people go through with their parents." i... i felt this. and i feel like nearly every poc will be able to relate to it.- yall- the representation- it was so good- i cannot stress this enough- read it- preorder it- buy it when it comes out- ask your library for a copy- plz- let muslim authors succeed- thnxT H E B A D M E H - i really didn't like the love interest, ariana. she was so selfish for the majority of the book, and i feel like she was meant to be written that way to have a better character arc, but i just feel like it didn't work. like, rukhsana would literally be like "hi my parents might kill me if i come out to them" and ariana would be like "bUT whAt aBoUt mY FeELinGs???" like bitch stfu.- rukhsana was constantly talking about how much she valued school, but we never actually get to see her learning/studying. we get lines like "and then i went to my room study" but like... i wanna see her struggle with physics or pre-calc lmao- there were other things that annoyed me but they are technically spoilers, and since the book isn't out yet (preorder it binch) i'm going to refrain from saying anything until the book come out :)TL;DR this book wasn't FANTASTIC but i still really really really fucking enjoyed itthank you to emmmabooks for being kind enough to send me an arc of this book!
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  • abi
    January 1, 1970
    Apparently, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single Bengali girl of marrying age must be in want of a husband.content warnings: on page rape, domestic abuse, violence, homophobia, racism, death of gay characterMy god, this book was beyond depressing. Rukhsana has her life all figured out, but her super conservative parents have other ideas for her and during the course of the book we are treated to (view spoiler)[a semi exorcism, an arranged marriage, her parents hitting her and of Apparently, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single Bengali girl of marrying age must be in want of a husband.content warnings: on page rape, domestic abuse, violence, homophobia, racism, death of gay characterMy god, this book was beyond depressing. Rukhsana has her life all figured out, but her super conservative parents have other ideas for her and during the course of the book we are treated to (view spoiler)[a semi exorcism, an arranged marriage, her parents hitting her and of course the standard denial and shame surrounding her sexuality. (hide spoiler)] I fully understand that this is a reality for Bengali people/Muslims, but for some reason I was expecting this book to be a little bit more upbeat than it actually was. Rukhsana was a likeable enough protagonist though. I just wish we could have stories that aren’t quite as sad.
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  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    "We must be the masters of our own destinies. I did not learn that until it was too late. You have to fight to take back control of your life. Sometimes you will hurt the ones you love the most. But in the end, it will always have to be your choice." Rukhsana Ali is struggling to live up to her conservative and traditional Bengali parents' expectations. She listens to most of their rules for the most part but she harbors secrets such as Rukhsana being in a relationship. And not any relationship "We must be the masters of our own destinies. I did not learn that until it was too late. You have to fight to take back control of your life. Sometimes you will hurt the ones you love the most. But in the end, it will always have to be your choice." Rukhsana Ali is struggling to live up to her conservative and traditional Bengali parents' expectations. She listens to most of their rules for the most part but she harbors secrets such as Rukhsana being in a relationship. And not any relationship. She has a girlfriend, a non-Bengali girlfriend. Rukhsana applies to Caltech even though her parents rather have her stay close by Seattle, where she resides. Her dream is to work for NASA. When her parents finally caved in to let her go to school in Seattle, they also find out about her secret relationship which causes her parents to send Rukhsana to Bangladesh.I love how Sabina Khan showcases Rukhsana to be opinionated and knows where her passions lie. Rukhsana stands for what she believes when it comes to who she loves. She also is fairly smart since she is accepted to Caltech with a scholarship. Not only is she accepted to a prestigious school but Rukhsana wants to study astronomy or physics. Yes for girls in the STEM field!Also, when reading The Love & Lies of Rukhsana, I am glad a couple people in the Bangladeshi community are open minded about Rukhsana liking females. Her brother Aamir is supportive and even their family friend's son, Irfan, has a similar situation in which he is in a relationship with a non-Bengali girl.Rukhsana's parents trick her to visit her grandmother saying that Nani is sick but in reality, they are trying to marry her off in an arranged marriage. In Bangladesh, Rukhsana turns to Shaila, her cousin, for support and later her Nani for comfort. Sohail, a potential suitor, ends up being good friends with Rukhsana. I enjoyed reading about the friendship between Rukhsana and Sohail. They have similar values and beliefs although they are not romantically interested in each other.When readers have a glance at Nani's diary, you can see how much she had to go through when she was younger getting married to a man she didn't want to marry. A man who was cruel and her parents married her off at such a young age. She only tells Rukhsana the ordeal she had to go through and how it was her secret for many years. The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali is a contemporary novel that incorporates pieces of historical fiction within the novel through Nani's diary entries. Nani tells Rukhsana that she must fight for her beliefs. She doesn't want Rukhsana to give into being unhappy.And so Ruksana fights for what she believes for even though it seems like no one is on her side. Some of the actions depicted in the novel may be hard for some people to read about but some of the things do happen in the world. We need to understand why someone doesn't ask for help and how they stay strong through dark times. As a warning, the novel includes sexual assault, child marriage, hate crimes and cases of people doing things against others' will.Khan takes readers on a roller coaster ride where you fall in love with the characters but then your heart breaks when you read about people being ridiculed for who they love. People get back together again but then tragedy happens. There is so much emotion in this novel!The Love & Lies of Rukhsana not only talks about coming out but how friends and family view the LGBTQIA+ community, interracial relationships and keeping traditional religious and cultural beliefs. The Love & Lies of Rukhsana is emotionally charged and it's a book I recommend everyone to read.
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  • Fanna
    January 1, 1970
    || F/F romance || Female POC protagonist|| Bangladesh (South Asian) setting; Bengali character LIST & POSTS I'VE MENTIONED THIS BOOK IN:16 Most Anticipated LGBTQIA Novels To Be Released in 2019January 2019 - Ten Books To Look Out For This Month8 Books With South-Asian Characters Releasing in 2019 || Make Your TBR More BrownBlog/Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Pinterest
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  • Katie / Currently Reading
    January 1, 1970
    Okay, so actual rating is like, four and a half stars. Mainly because the end seemed cheap, in a way. But I very much enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading more by Sabina Khan.Also, shoutout to the team at Scholastic for handing me this at Yallfest!
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  • Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries)
    January 1, 1970
    content warnings: all forms of abuse against children (physical, emotional, sexual, etc.), homophobia, rape, murder, hate crime.fuck, this book hurt so bad and is so very very good.
  • zaheerah
    January 1, 1970
    I'm already crying. 2019, please hurry up.
  • Debbie
    January 1, 1970
    My TakeawayI believe this young adult novel can be relevant and important to certain adolescent girls. I continuously mention I grew up with extremely religious (Pentecostal) parents. Numerous things were prohibited and taboo -- for certain being gay was (and remains) an enormous sin. According to hardcore Pentecostals, being gay will definitely earn you a place in hell. Though Rukhsana's parents are not Pentecostal, but Muslim, their beliefs are even more strict! From the beginning, readers kno My TakeawayI believe this young adult novel can be relevant and important to certain adolescent girls. I continuously mention I grew up with extremely religious (Pentecostal) parents. Numerous things were prohibited and taboo -- for certain being gay was (and remains) an enormous sin. According to hardcore Pentecostals, being gay will definitely earn you a place in hell. Though Rukhsana's parents are not Pentecostal, but Muslim, their beliefs are even more strict! From the beginning, readers know Rukhsana is gay and in a relationship, which she is hiding from her strict and traditional Bengali-Muslim parents. Her white friends and girlfriend simply don't get or understand her parent's rigid beliefs and expectations (at times they're super clueless).There were definitely some intense moments when I was outraged and heartbroken for Rukhsana, but I also believed her circumstances could happen in real life. Growing up Dominican-American and religious made me identify with Rukhsana on various levels. Like me, she had a complicated relationship with her mother; and she had to navigate two different cultures constantly. At times she was filled with conflict and frustration because she could not please everyone in her life. There were several versions of Rukhsana, which is honestly accurate of most teens. This is Khan's first novel and I enjoyed her descriptive writing especially the way she described food. Throughout the book, chai lattes came up so much I begged two of my friends to please make me an authentic cup! And boy did they come through! The chai they made was so damn delicious and unlike anything I've ever had (Starbucks). The only dilemma? Now I want/need more... :-/I reached out to Sabina Khan and asked what inspired her to write the book. Here's her answer:"I was inspired to write this story when my daughter came out to our family a couple of years ago. I was very proud of her self-assurance and her courage and we had many conversations about other teens at her school who did not feel safe coming out to their families. It broke my heart and this, combined with news articles of a couple of gruesome deaths of members of the LGBTQ community in Bangladesh where I grew up, made me want to write a story of hope and the strength and courage of a young girl fighting to carve out a space for herself in the world."Thank you to Scholastic Press for the advanced reading copy! The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali comes out January 29, 2019, but you can pre-order it today.
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  • Tj
    January 1, 1970
    I've spent a long time questioning whether to write this or not. I don't like to publicly comment on books, but I think it's important to discuss queer lit and make sure to protect readers, especially teen readers, if they come to this book hoping it's something it isn't.While I hope readers will enjoy Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali, we have to acknowledge the book deals heavily with queer pain and contributes to several problematic queer tropes. Reading a novel mostly about queer pain, can be ch I've spent a long time questioning whether to write this or not. I don't like to publicly comment on books, but I think it's important to discuss queer lit and make sure to protect readers, especially teen readers, if they come to this book hoping it's something it isn't.While I hope readers will enjoy Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali, we have to acknowledge the book deals heavily with queer pain and contributes to several problematic queer tropes. Reading a novel mostly about queer pain, can be challenging, and though I've been excited to read LOVE AND LIES, it's important to note that it will be triggering for some, if not many, readers. Trigger and Spoiler Warnings:A list of things to be aware of before reading:-Rukhsana believes a trip with her parents to Bangladesh is to help take care of her “sick” grandmother. However, it is actually an attempt by her parents to arrange her marriage after they find her kissing her girlfriend. Rukhsana tries to rationalize why her parents are keeping here there, but when she realizes the truth, she attempts escape. Repeatedly, her attempts fail and she is forced into navigating her family’s disapproval of her identity. One positive is that her cousin, Shaila, and her grandmother, Nani, truly support her. When Rukhsana feels comfortable to tell her truth, Shaila opens her heart and even tries to help Rukshana escape. Her grandmother is also a badass and tries to show her support as well, but does not seem to be much in the position to help. She gives Rukhsana her diary to show that Rukhsana can get through the pain she's dealing with. TW about grandma's diary: There are several portrayals of abuse, including mentions of sexual assault. Part of me really wanted her grandma to confront the family about how they were treating Rukhsana. I think her voicing her support would have been stronger than what follows. Though, maybe due to her past she doesn’t feel she can stand up for her.-Rukhsana is drugged and then forced to partake in a Djinn exorcism to get rid of her queerness. This scene, while true to some real queer stories (I had no idea this happened), was hard to read through. Even thinking about it, makes me sick in my stomach. -Rukhsana befriends a queer male in Bangladesh who also wants to be free of his family’s idea of what his life should look like. The moment he was introduced, I had a bad feeling. I just knew: A queer character would die to serve as "lesson" to MC's family that they need to accept her queerness so that she too doesn't end up dead.While the death itself is very serious and important not to ignore (something recently happened in real life that was similar to the death in the book), I found it's place in the story to be a bit misguided. I don't think queer death should ever serve as a "lesson" to straight people to "accept" our identities. No matter the intent, I don’t think this is the message that should be given to younger readers. Maybe I’m sensitive, but I felt hurt by this result. I felt angry. I felt the need to talk about it, but believed I couldn't bring it up because I didn't want to say anything bad about a book that many are excited for. But if this review helps any reader protect their heart then I know it's important to mention these things.It’s important to show all queer stories and experiences, especially when many stories have yet to be told, but I think there’s room for discussion with any queer book. Room for us to think about why and how we are writing queer characters and their journeys. Should we kill a queer character to serve our main character’s story?Does adding a few characters that support our characters (grandma, cousin, little brother, etc) help balance the outright hatred of her parents and the repeated physical and emotional abuse?Could we explore the same subject matter without repeatedly making our character suffer because of their queerness?I don’t have an easy answer for any of these. I hope this book will help readers. I hope that we get more Muslim and lesbian characters from many angles of intersectionality. I want all queer shit. I want all the queer teens out there to have stories that help them deal when the harshness of this world tells us who we love and are is wrong.Be safe. Love hard. Don’t be afraid to be who you are meant to be. I know Rukhsana would agree. You can do this. Keep fighting for yourself and the people that support you. <3
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  • G.L. Tomas
    January 1, 1970
    Wow this shit was fucking heavy...I don’t know how to feel about everything I just read.Update: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 Wow this shit was fucking heavy...I don’t know how to feel about everything I just read.Update: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.
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  • Michelle Leonard
    January 1, 1970
    Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali’s life is nearly perfect. She has great friends, good grades, and she and her very cool girlfriend are headed to Caltech in the fall. Even more exciting, Rukhsana has earned a full scholarship to study physics. There’s just one problem. Her very conservative Bengali-Muslim parents.They expect her to go to nearby University of Washington and marry a Bengali young man. Rukhsana has no choice but to hide her true self and her girlfriend from them until she can escape Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali’s life is nearly perfect. She has great friends, good grades, and she and her very cool girlfriend are headed to Caltech in the fall. Even more exciting, Rukhsana has earned a full scholarship to study physics. There’s just one problem. Her very conservative Bengali-Muslim parents.They expect her to go to nearby University of Washington and marry a Bengali young man. Rukhsana has no choice but to hide her true self and her girlfriend from them until she can escape to California. But then, her mother catches her kissing her girlfriend and ERUPTS. Her parents lie to her about her ailing grandmother and take her to Bangladesh to find her a suitable husband. While in Bangladesh, her parents sink to performing unthinkable acts to tame their daughter into the girl they want her to be.Excuse me while I pick my heart up off the floor…THE LOVE & LIES OF RUKHSANA ALI and its bold depiction of the tangled web of family, self-identity, friends, and intersectional diversity as it relates to LGBTQIA+ community and Bengali culture broke my heart countless times, but in the end carefully stitched it back together. Rukhsana Ali is so real to me that I want to text her to check in to see how things are going. The range of emotions Rukhsana navigates while dealing with her parents and her understandably confused girlfriend (who can’t fathom her parents’ actions) are spot on ––frustration, rage, love, understanding, compassion, loyalty… One thing that really stood out in this story is that we are all born into two lives- the one filled with expectations of us and the one we choose for ourselves. For some of us, we are lucky that there’s overlap, but for others, like Rukhsana, the gap is a huge chasm. It takes great courage and support from others to overcome such huge barriers and to prevent losing our true selves. Three cheers for brave Rukhsana who gathers strength and throughout the story and helps us all understand the complexities of self-identity and its relationship to family. Rukhsana’s brother, cousin, and friends support her when she needs them most, so three cheers for all the allies in the world too. Brilliantly executed, complicated plot, deftly-drawn characters you will come to love, and emotionally driven, THE LOVE & LIES OF RUKHSANA ALI is a book that should be on every YA reading shelf. It’s a story that will open understanding, inspire helpful dialogue, and change lives. This book will stick with me for a long time, and I am looking forward to the next read by Sabina Khan. If you like books that speak truth, whisk you deeply into other cultures, and make you feel, this one’s is for you.Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book - all opinions are my own.
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  • إيمان❤︎
    January 1, 1970
    As a Muslim, I have absolutely zero intentions of reading how strict~ muslim parents are. I've had enough of it, it's tiring, and I just wish more books would represent Muslim queer characters with "normal" parents? Having a life outside of the struggle with their parents and their extreme restrictions and beliefs and how they affect their lives? In the beginning of the book, the mom is painted as this misogynistic villain that all she wants for her daughter is to get married and not stain their As a Muslim, I have absolutely zero intentions of reading how strict~ muslim parents are. I've had enough of it, it's tiring, and I just wish more books would represent Muslim queer characters with "normal" parents? Having a life outside of the struggle with their parents and their extreme restrictions and beliefs and how they affect their lives? In the beginning of the book, the mom is painted as this misogynistic villain that all she wants for her daughter is to get married and not stain their family's reputation. I'm tired of this. I've heard that later in the book there are some amazing and refreshing characters but unfortunately I'm not patient enough to get there. My dream is to get a normal story about a normal Muslim family not centered around the restrictions of what the religion/beliefs/cultural beliefs impose.It really pains me that when you hear (a story about a Muslim girl) you automatically think (oh no~ freedom problems!!!! Suffering~ D R A M A). Please ENOUGH.
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