It All Comes Back to You by Farah Naz Rishi. Quill Tree Books, HarperCollins, 2021. 9780062741486
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3
Format: ARC (to be published 9/14/21)
Genre: Realistic fiction, romance
What did you like about the book? This vaguely Jane Austen-homage is set in Philly’s desi community, home to Kiran, her older sister Amira, and her dad. It’s summer and Kiran’s headed to UPenn in the fall to study medicine, relegating her passion for Indian dance to hobby status. Amira (a committed social justice lawyer) surprises her with the news that she’s fallen head-over-heels for Faisal, a muscle-bound mystery man who just happens to be the older brother of Deen (Kiran’s secret hot crush from the past) and that the wedding will take place in 6 weeks. Cue the dholki, the mehendi, visits to purchase wedding outfits, and lots of appetizers. But Kiran fears Faisal is hiding a dangerous secret, or is she just still angry about Deen ghosting her as her mother wasted away from ALS? The story alternates between Kiran and Deen’s points of view, texts from their earlier relationship, and chats from a contemporary role-playing game both enjoy, though in Shop Around The Corner or You’ve Got Mail-fashion, they don’t know each other’s secret identities. I did like the highly appealing cover art.
Anything you didn’t like about it? As the above description hints, the plot was very busy. Amira and Faisel are far more interesting and sympathetic than Kiran and Deen; I found the younger siblings to be petty and predictable, especially Kiran, who deliberately sets out to wreck her beloved sister’s relationship and wedding without any reflection. I found this rom-com to be sorely lacking in the sparkle department.
To whom would you recommend this book? Teens looking for a very dramatic love story set in the desi community will appreciate the cultural references and may sympathize with the two brothers as they tangle with their high-pressure parents.
Who should buy this book? High schools and public libraries
Where would you shelve it? YA fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: September 10, 2021