Book Review: THE LOVE & LIES OF RUKHSANA ALI by Sabina Khan

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Genre: Contemporary
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 3/5 stars
Series: Standalone


the love and lies of rukshana aliSeventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.

But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective.

Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


I picked up this book because I want to challenge myself this year to read outside my typical fantasy bounds. I have some real successes, and hooked myself to a new genre, so I was hoping for the same by picking up a lauded contemporary.

Unfortunately, this book and I didn’t click. This book is clearly well written, with exquisitely rendered characters, and I can see why it is well-beloved. It simply isn’t my taste

Putting aside the lack of my favourite magic, secondary worlds and political schemes, I found the book’s pacing slow. It simply felt like I was dragging my heels from page to page as nothing much happened. It took 25% of the book for Rukhsana’s parents to find out about Ariana – the inciting incident.

While the slow start gave time to really set up the characters, relationships and setting, the plot beats were spaced far and wide. I clearly prefer plot-centric books over character-centric. Here, the focus was on the character development and relationships – which were stunning.

This is a short review, mainly because I don’t want to simply lists variants of ‘This book just wasn’t to my taste, but I can see why it is well-loved’.


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