Zahra, her widowed mother, grandmother, and little sister and brother are squeezed into a tiny city apartment, thankfully in the largest Bangladeshi community in the US.
Every Muslim deshi auntie in Paterson joins her mom in trying to set up Zahra with the right young man. Everyone knows that marrying into a rich family will solve every problem, as the popular Bengali natok dramas show through music and extravagant dances.
But the recent grad wants true love, like a Jane Austen novel – someone who adores her for herself, not for her auspicious social connections to Bangladeshi royalty or her mother’s amazing dressmaking skills.
Enough that Zahra has to work for a year to support her family while her besties head away to college. For now, she’ll keep drafting her novel, and someday she’ll finally study creative writing at Columbia University, someday…
Oh dear! Amma agrees with the wealthy Emon family that their son Harun and Zahra are a perfect match!! The 18 year olds decide quickly that they’re not suited for each other, but will go on several dates (with chaperones) to make their parents happy.
Meanwhile, every shift working together at the Pakistani chai shop brings Zahra and cute Nayim closer. He’s just arrived here in New Jersey, is staying with the imam, and loves music (more fun than Harun’s model-building and bearded dragon).
It is nice to be friends with Harun, even if there’s no spark between them. It’s lovely to be with Nayim at the deshi community picnic, even though he won’t discuss his family back home. It’s hard to watch her best friends excitedly prepare to move away for college, so hard.
Nayim or Harun?
Fairy tale or practicality?
Secrets?! More secrets?!
Trying to balance family expectations with her own dreams makes Zahra wonder if this summer will be a happy Dhallywood natok or a tragic one!
What’s your favorite literary love match?
Book info: The Love Match / Priyanka Taslim. Salaam Reads/ Simon & Schuster, 2023. [author site] [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.