Danyal Jilani is a confident, attractive high school senior whose life ambition is to be a chef. As a Muslim man this is considered a frivolous life goal and it causes a lot of problems with his father. He has a huge crush on his friend’s sister, Kaval, but his lack of educational ambition makes him an unlikely match for someone who prizes a traditionally educated husband who can provide her a comfortable lifestyle. Danyal’s parents, knowing their son will have limited options, have begun trying to match him with a bride already and it is through this process he meets Bisma, a college student with a shocking secret that lessens her value (barf) on the arranged marriage market. There is also a subplot where Danyal is enrolled in a competitive essay competition, The Renaisance Man, which gives him an both an opportunity to spend more time with Bisma and the chance to impress Kaval’s parents that he is more than just a pretty face.
“Tell me, Daynal Jilani, how exactly are you more than just a pretty face?” I gave her an adorable, irresistible grin. “I’m an absolutely gorgeous face.”
If you have read any YA you know how this story goes but it was still a cute, quick read with diverse main characters.
My one complaint is that the author made Danyal a 19-year-old high school senior whose love interests were an actual high school senior (so either 17 or 18) and a girl his own age who was already in college at a prestigious university. This was done to drive home how, from a match making perspective, Danyal was not a catch because not only was he was held back but he had no ambition to go to college after graduation. Also, in somewhat lazy story writing, being a high schooler gave the author the opportunity to put him in the position of having the chance to win a contest like the Renaissance Man. As someone who is not part of a culture where arranged marriages and match making aren’t common it also seemed a bit weird for parents to be actively trying to marry off a high schooler even if he was a year older than your average senior. That being said I really enjoyed reading a romance story that centered around the prospect of finding love within an arranged union.
3.5 Stars rounded up