Mini-Reviews: Hana Khan Carries On + Chlorine Sky

I have a ton of mini-reviews in my drafts it’s not even funny. I’ve been dragging my feet when it comes to editing them and am hoping this doesn’t mean a blogging slump is on its way. A reading slump and blogging slump happening at the same time is my worst nightmare. I actually read these two books quite a bit apart, but they ended up paired because it made sense for two other mini-reviews to be coupled together. I know this probably doesn’t make any sense to you, but just trust me, it makes perfect sense in my head.

Title: Hana Khan Carries On Author: Uzma Jalaluddin Series: N/A Pages: 348 Publisher: Berkley Release Date: April 13th 2021

TW: Islamophobia, racism, hate crimes

"Hana Khan's family-run halal restaurant is on its last legs. So when a flashy competitor gets ready to open nearby, bringing their inevitable closure even closer, she turns to her anonymously-hosted podcast, and her lively and long-lasting relationship with one of her listeners, for advice. But a hate-motivated attack on their neighbourhood complicates the situation further, as does Hana's growing attraction for Aydin, the young owner of the rival business. Who might not be a complete stranger after all..."

Uzma Jalaluddin’s Hana Khan Carries On is an adorable slow-burn romance for fans of the rivals to lovers trope. Hana splits her time between working at her family’s restaurant, her internship at a local radio station, and secretly hosting the anonymous podcast, Ana’s Brown Girl Rambles. Her podcast has become one of the few places where she is able to speak her mind. She’s found a small, but loyal audience including StanleyP. One of her first listeners, StanleyP has become one of her closest confidants. The only problem is Hana has never met him as they’ve been solely communicating through a text app. Their friendship has been one of the bright spots in her life and promises to become something more if Hana ever finds the courage to reveal who she really is. Her life takes an unexpected turn when newcomer Aydin Shah and his father intend to open a rival halal restaurant across from her family’s. Hana and Aydin immediately butt heads. Hana is immediately put off by Aydin’s arrogant and often condescending attitude. The fact that he is trying to take down her mother’s restaurant doesn’t exactly endear him to her either. Their relationship is filled with tension, but what started off as hatred soon turns into something like attraction. Dealing with microaggressions at work, Hana is trying to forge a path for herself in radio, but her boss seems bent on pigeonholing her by trying to make her the face of diversity. Hana’s true passion is storytelling, but she wants the freedom to tell stories from her Muslim and South Asian community without the burden of teaching outsiders a lesson. With a focus on family, Hana Khan Carries On is a heartfelt novel full of the ups and downs of family life and learning to embrace what you truly want out of life.

★ ★ ★ ★
(4/5)


Title: Chlorine Sky Author: Mahogany L. Browne Series: N/A Pages: 192 Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers Release Date: January 12th 2021

TW: racism, drug abuse, alcoholism, bullying, sexual assault

"A novel-in-verse about a young girl coming-of-age and stepping out of the shadow of her former best friend. She looks me hard in my eyes & my knees lock into tree trunks My eyes don't dance like my heartbeat racing They stare straight back hot daggers. I remember things will never be the same. I remember things. Mahogany L. Browne delivers a novel-in-verse about broken promises, fast rumors, and when growing up means growing apart from your best friend."

Mahogany L. Browne’s Chlorine Sky is a compelling novel-in-verse chronically the loss of a friendship, but also the empowerment of its young MC. Sky has always been in her friend Lay Li’s shadow. Everyone is drawn to Lay Li. Like the sun, she is beautiful and bright. She is full of life and it often feels like the world revolves around her. As they’ve gotten older, Sky begins to realize that being so close in proximity to the sun can also be blinding and scorching. As Lay Li and Sky grow apart, Sky begins to reminisce about their relationship. Their first meeting felt like the first time Sky found someone who could understand her, who would stand by her. But as their friendship progressed, cracks began to form that she might not have seen when they first happened. Sky might have been Lay Li’s right hand man, but Lay Li has never been hers. Lay Li didn’t stand up for Sky when the boys Lay Li was interested in started making unkind and racist remarks toward her. She laughed it off as though it were a joke and Sky eventually begins to realize that although losing her best friend been one of the most heartbreaking things for her, their friendship was rather one-sided. Chlorine Sky also explores contentious sisterly relationships and first love. Mahogany L. Browne’s debut novel-in-verse is about finding yourself in a world that refuses to really see you, about embracing who you are and not making yourself smaller to accommodate how others view you.

★ ★ ★ ★
(4/5)

The Friday 56: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“Khalid didn’t feel like going home right away. His mother would ask about his day, and then he would have to lie. If he told her about the conversation with Sheila, she would demand that he go to the Human Rights commission, or that he be made director of Livertech.

Instead he headed to the only place he felt entirely comfortable: the mosque.”

Uzma Jalaluddin’s Ayesha at Last has been added to my growing list of favorite diverse P&P retellings (I’m always on the lookout for more, so give me your recs in the comments!). This one follows two very different Muslim, Indian-Canadians who clash with their first meeting, but who learn to appreciate one another and learn about themselves along the way. You can read my snapshot review here. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.
      Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.
      Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.”