Harper Collins Australia
- ISBN: 9780062845498
- ISBN 10: 0062845497
- Imprint: HarperCollins US
- List Price: 19.99 AUD
I have to say I really enjoyed this and read it over several nights last week but I’m also going to say upfront that despite the publisher’s suggested age rating of 13 years upwards DO NOT even think about it being available to anyone below your seniors – IMO. There is liberal swearing, drug use and sexual references – in fact the ‘steamy romance‘ wording in the blurb gives enough clues.
Noreen the protagonist has just finished senior school and is ready for college but her overwhelming grief for her aunt Sonia still weighs her down, even after a year, and makes her feel lost and without direction.
When her single mum, Ruby, is set to go to India for work for several months, Noreen decides to take a gap year and go with her. Being desi Pakistani but raised in the States, will not necessarily make it easy for the Mirza girls in India but both feel confident they can make it work. And both feel that they can honour Sonia by visiting the places she had always dreamed travelling to, and paying homage.
When Noreen is introduced to handsome and charming Kabir, their friendship quickly evolves to a hot and spicy relationship, and despite Noreen’s misgivings because of the limited time she has with him, both fall more in love. There are, of course, complications: Kabir’s flamboyant and narcissistic parents are far from enchanted by Noreen, and then his father becomes caught up in a #MeToo scandal as this movement escalates in a country unfortunately known for it’s violent and objectifying treatment of women, Noreen’s digging to know more about her absent father gives her troubled responses, both the young people are struggling to know which direction to take for a future life and career and the generational trauma that followed the Partition. All in all though, these dramas are offset by some humour as well as a fascinating insight into daily life in modern India.
As I said, I enjoyed it very much, particularly for those insights into food, places, spirituality and culture of India but I would not countenance giving it to any student under Year 11/12 and even then would certainly put my usual disclaimer inside the front cover to advise of content. I think particularly if you are in a church school, you would need to be extra cautious. Rather than YA, I am inclined to call it ‘new adult’ a term being deployed more regularly in some circles.
It certainly has some very worthwhile messages about the treatment of women and the deeply-rooted attitudes of many men, especially in certain cultures but the general narrative and the activities of the young characters and their friends (and the drug use/partying extends to the adults, by the way) would be quite confronting for many young readers (and their parents).
Recommended for mature readers over 16.