Title: The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali
Author: Sabina Khan
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Seventeen-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?
I loved this book! It had some of the biggest highs and lows of any book I’ve read, but it had a powerful message.
Rukhsana was a very strong character. She went through so much in this story, but it ended on a hopeful note. The story was emotionally draining at times, because there were so many difficult topics, such as abuse. There was physical and emotional abuse, including violent beatings and imprisonment. Though it was hard to read about, these are real things that happen in the world, so it’s important to recognize the dangers that some people face.
It was shocking at times to see how Rukhsana’s family reacted to her coming out as a lesbian. I didn’t take it as an insult to the whole Bangladeshi community, because there are some families that are accepting to their queen children. It was just the way that her parents handled it that was so extreme. I can’t imagine going through something like that, so it really broke my heart to see everything she had to go through once her parents found out. I was glad this story ended with hope, because many other people’s stories don’t have such happy endings.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s an important LGBT story.
What to read next:
A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena
Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali
Have you read The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali? What did you think of it?