Candid, textured, and amusing: a novel readers will devour in one sitting.

THE LOVE MATCH

Zahra Khan finds herself in a real-life Bengali natok, or drama, when two handsome boys enter her life.

All Zahra really wants is to be a writer, but she must first navigate adulthood, love, and the Bengali community of Paterson, New Jersey. She has to put off college to work at local Pakistani tea shop Chai Ho to help her mother support their family, which has struggled financially ever since her father died two years ago. While Zahra focuses on making ends meet, her mother tries desperately to set her up with gorgeous, well-mannered Harun Emon, who is from a wealthy family—precisely what Zahra’s mom is looking for. The two 18-year-olds are not interested in one another, but they pretend to date to keep their parents satisfied. Meanwhile, Zahra is falling for new Chai Ho hire Nayim Aktar, a poor orphan and recent arrival from Bangladesh. As the pressures start building, Zahra finds herself at a crossroads: choose obligation or choose herself. Taslim’s descriptions of the Bengali community and her articulation of diverse Muslim identities and practices are authentic and nuanced. Details like waking up for Fajr prayer, halal dating, and inner turmoil over wanting physical intimacy describe genuine experiences. Topics like double standards in the South Asian community, the intersection of queer and Muslim identities, and the reality of the inaccessibility of higher education add depth to the novel.

Candid, textured, and amusing: a novel readers will devour in one sitting. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-66590-110-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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