Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin
4/13/2021 by Harper Avenue
There is so much about this book that I enjoyed! There is a podcasting FMC that I just loved so much. I listen to an intense amount of podcasts so this made me fall for Hana early on. And Hana was just lovely and fierce from beginning to end. I also really enjoyed her family, who owns a hala restaurant and are her biggest fans. I loved watching them basically believe she could do anything she wanted. And the community of Golden Crescent, where the restaurant is based, was really charming and felt like the best of small town romances placed in a large, diverse city. My favorite part of the entire book was definitely her cousin because he cracked me up and provided levity at every turn.
But there are so many plot lines that were competing for my attention that I wasn’t sure what to even focus on. The main plotline seemed to be competing halal restaurants, which I enjoyed on the surface, but then there is also big family secrets, workplace issues, racism and specifically Islamophobia, protests, the secret identity of Hana’s podcast follower/internet friend, and a massive plot twist late in the book around Aydin’s mother. The romance was never given a chance to shine so when they do fall in love I felt like I was left questioning when that happened.
Honestly, if even 2 of these subplots – any 2! – had been deleted I feel like the whole book would have been much better.
CW: racism, Islamophobia, death off page, microagressions
Farm of Fancy
2018 – Self Published
This book surprised me just because I don’t generally expect to really enjoy a book set almost solely on a farm – but obviously it’s in the title and on the cover so I knew going into it! The town of Armstrong is extremely small but Gabe is used to his very slow and solitary life there with his horse, on his farm. He doesn’t like change but when his horse gets sick he doesn’t have a choice but to call the new vet in town. What I loved about this meet cute is that Gabe is grumpy and what thaws that grumpiness is vet David’s ability to calm and treat his horse. What pet owner doesn’t melt at kindness to their pets?
Gabe and David’s relationship develops from there and I thought this was a really thoughtful look at the difficulty of living in the same town your whole life and wanting to both protect yourself but also live your life. At one point there is a conversation about how comfortable Gabe is with PDA and being out and David is understanding of the pace Gabe needs to move at. I was really appreciative of this moment because it was such a nice acknowledgement that everyone has different lived experiences.
But there’s also a lot more going on in this book so if you pick it up be prepared for that as well. David is a widow and he’s dealing with a lot of grief left from that, I thought it was a really wonderful depiction of this. Gabe is a cancer survivor and there is also depiction of treatment on page. I usually cannot deal with these things but I thought the entire book was heartwarming and tender.
CW: cancer, grief