Publishing Date: February 26, 2019
Publisher: PRH Canada Young Readers
Young Adult Contemporary
The Premise from the Publisher: "Susan is the new girl -- she's sharp and driven, and strives to meet her parents' expectations of excellence. Malcolm is the bad boy -- he started raising hell at age fifteen, after his mom died of cancer, and has had a reputation ever since. Susan hasn't told anyone, but she wants to be an artist. Malcolm doesn't know what he wants -- until he meets her. Love is messy and families are messier, but in spite of their burdens, Susan and Malcolm fall for each other. The ways they drift apart and come back together are testaments to family, culture, and being true to who you are" (PRH).
My overall thoughts and review: If you look back over a year ago, I had read Tanaz's debut novel A Girl Like That, and it still remains one of my favorite reads to this day. To say I was excited to read more by Tanaz is an understatement. I still think about AGLT often, with how powerful the story was and just the beautiful way it was written. AGLT is mentioned a bit in this book which was nice to see! If you are curious for my review of that book, be sure to click here! This story takes place in Mississauga which isn't too far from me so it was nice to see some familiar sights mentioned. Susan is the new girl at school and she finds herself wanting to pursue art in her future, while also struggling with her parent's expectations. They want a different life for her, one that is either in medicine or engineering. She misses life back home, but she's also dealing with the fact that her parents may be separating. She finds herself becoming friends with Malcolm, who is a bit of a hellion. I really liked how they hit it off immediately, and even though it's first love, Tanaz wrote their relationship blossoming in a very authentic way, which didn't feel too insta-lovey for me. On paper and to their parents, they can and could never work, but I loved seeing them grow more comfortable with the other and bringing out the best in the other. The book tackles so many themes in terms of how family and relationships are presented. It also tackles senior year of high school struggles, in terms of doing well in your classes to get into post-secondary education, but also struggling to decide what you actually want to do when you get to post-secondary education. Tanaz nicely highlights the struggle that I'm sure a lot of students face, and that is deciding between what you want to do and love, and what you are expected to do by your parents. It's like a kind of limbo you are in, and I'm sure many people can relate to that moment many times over the course of their life. It was more than just Susan and Malcolm falling love, it was their individual stories and how they were able to move on from certain things in their lives. I would highly recommend it if you are looking for a YA contemporary read that's really well written, and highlights first love, family, and friendship!
"Nothing lasts forever. Not this snowflake. Not our homes, not our families. But it doesn't mean you can't live in the beauty of the moment" (221).
My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮ - 4/5 stars
Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon, and Book Depository
Author Guest Post - Be a little stubborn by Tanaz Bhathena
Dedicated to my friends in THG Fandom (you know who you are)
The greatest challenge I faced in my writing career happened in 2014-15. I had been working hard to get a book published for around 7 years. I had started off with a short story collection, which helped me find an agent, but the book did not sell. Short story collections by debut writers rarely ever do, and though people told me this in the past, I didn’t listen. You see, I can be a little stubborn at times.
Predictably, publishers told me to write a novel instead. So I took a short story from the collection and expanded it to a novel for adults. As my agent submitted the book and new rejections began pouring in, I began working on another book...and came up blank.
Ideas came aplenty, but executing them was a different thing altogether. For several months, I wrote myself into several dead ends. Turned off writing, I found refuge in reading The Hunger Games fan fiction and eventually was encouraged by fandom writers online to give it a try.
I really loved it. (Putting a Bollywood twist on Peeta and Katniss and setting it in India may have something to do with that.) To my surprise, readers liked my story as well; strangers I didn’t know asked me to write more chapters. Fan fiction reminded me of how much I loved writing and how much I missed it.
However, after a few months of writing fan fic, I grew dissatisfied again. There were certain rules you have to follow to write good fan fic and, when it came to writing, I always resisted following the rules. I knew that as fun and rewarding as it had been to explore fan fiction, I had to begin writing my own stories again.
The day I decided to wind down my fan fic journey and begin working on my own fiction again, my agent called. “We have some interest,” she told me. “It’s from a YA editor and she wants you to revise your book for teens.”
Hope battled with reluctance. I had heard such things from editors before only to be rejected later on. But then I decided to give my beaten up story one more shot.
I revised the first three chapters and wrote a synopsis for the book and submitted it.
In the summer of 2016, my agent called me. We had an offer for my first novel, now known as A GIRL LIKE THAT.
A year later, I pulled out another short story from my old collection and wrote my second novel, THE BEAUTY OF THE MOMENT.
It took fan fiction to remind me how much I love writing—and more so, writing my own stories. The greatest challenge we face as writers apart from rejection is self-doubt. Does my story matter? we wonder. Does anyone care?
The answer, which took me a while to realize, is simple: If I don’t care about my story, no one else will.
Have faith in yourself and your story, especially when it’s difficult to do so.
Or if you’re anything like me, just be a little stubborn.Thank you so much, Tanaz, for stopping by the blog today and sharing about your writing process!
We are only just kicking off the tour, so please be sure to go check out the other stops for reviews on the book and more special content from Tanaz! :D
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from Penguin Random House Canada for consideration/review. All opinions are my own.