Book review | Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin
Author: Uzma Jalaluddin
Genre: Contemporary Romance
No. of pages: 363
Published by: Corvus, Atlantic Books
Published on: 5th May 2021
My rating: ★★★★★
Hana Khan's family-run halal restaurant is on its last legs. So when a flashy competitor gets ready to open nearby, bringing their inevitable closure even closer, she turns to her anonymously-hosted podcast, and her lively and long-lasting relationship with one of her listeners, for advice. But a hate-motivated attack on their neighbourhood complicates the situation further, as does Hana's growing attraction for Aydin, the young owner of the rival business. Who might not be a complete stranger after all...
A charmingly refreshing and modern love story, Uzma Jalaluddin's tale is humorously warm and filled with gorgeous characters you won't be able to forget.
24 year old Hana Khan is juggling her podcast, her radio internship, and looking after her mother's only halal restaurant in their neighbourhood which is almost at its brink of closing down. Her only solace is her secret fan and friend who has been offering her advice ever since her podcast started. Even though she's struggling to keep her personal and professional life together, she's happy with it.
When Aydin Shah and his father turn up in the neighbourhood to set up their own hotshot halal restaurant, it puts Hana in a fix. Aydin is her rival, but he's too kind to her. And when their competition turns into an all-out war, Hana and Aydin comes closer to one another when they get involved in a hate crime against their community.
Hana Khan Carries On has three essential things that takes the spotlight (other than the romance):
First, the importance of family. There's nothing like Brown families and their strength. When a quirky aunt and cousin enter Hana's life it turns her world upside down. With secret family histories and a cousin that 'could' belong to the mafia, this book gives you the most entertaining family that's wholesome and gets on your nerves at the same time.
Second, hate crimes. Without any hesitation, the author deals with this omnipresent bigotry against minorities present in the world, and deftly shows how Hana and Aydin turns something so sickening into a weapon for themselves and fight it together.
Third, racial microaggression in the workplace. There's a point in the story when Hana's boss refuses to acknowledge that not everything about Islam is suppression or radicalization, and Muslim women do wear the hijab according to their wishes. It really was a reality check because, some White people really do have a saviour complex. And the author does a damn good job dealing with that.
The author takes so much care to build up the relationship between Hana and Aydin. It's so warming to see their relationship evolve. Also, the side characters in the book are as beautiful as our main protagonists. The way we get such minute details about all characters (be it big or small) really helped me relate to these characters. It really felt like these people lived in my neighbourhood and I could see them go on with their day-to-day lives.
I could go on and on about this book. Even though it is longer than the usual contemporary romance, Hana Khan Carries On is the cool breeze on a hot day.
The paperback has a small font. Though I cannot put that up against the author, my reading experience would be a notch better if the font size was bigger. Other than that, I legit have no complaints about this book. I should not even have any complaints. The writing was heartfelt. It does make you "feel things." The author sometimes switches from text messages, to podcast transcribers, back to the present, but never does it feel out of place. Every single dialogue, every bit of Hana's introspection, feels properly positioned in the book. Read this book and feel it for yourself. I'm definitely going to read the author's other works after this.
Uzma Jalaluddin grew up in a close knit, diverse neighbourhood in Toronto, Canada, and regularly attended events at her local mosque, even when her parents didn't make her. Today she teaches in a public high school, and writes 'Samosas and Maple Syrup', a parenting and culture column for The Toronto Star, Canada's largest daily newspaper. Her debut novel, Ayesha at Last, won the 2019 Hearst Big Books Award - Cosmopolitan's Book of the Year. Hana Khan Carries On is her second novel.
I received a copy of the book in exchange of an honest and unbiased review.