If you tell me “You’ve Got Mail” you will get me every time. So when I heard about this Muslim Canadian retelling, I was sold. I had read Jalaluddin’s debut, Ayesha At Last, and knew I had to read this one! And I loved it! Keep reading this book review to read my full thoughts.
Sales are slow at Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, the only halal restaurant in the close-knit Golden Crescent neighborhood. Hana waitresses there part time, but what she really wants is to tell stories on the radio. If she can just outshine her fellow intern at the city radio station, she may have a chance at landing a job. In the meantime, Hana pours her thoughts and dreams into a podcast, where she forms a lively relationship with one of her listeners. But soon she’ll need all the support she can get: a new competing restaurant, a more upscale halal place, is about to open in the Golden Crescent, threatening Three Sisters.
When her mysterious aunt and her teenage cousin arrive from India for a surprise visit, they draw Hana into a long-buried family secret. A hate-motivated attack on their neighborhood complicates the situation further, as does Hana’s growing attraction for Aydin, the young owner of the rival restaurant–who might not be a complete stranger after all.
As life on the Golden Crescent unravels, Hana must learn to use her voice, draw on the strength of her community and decide what her future should be.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: Islamaphobia, racism
I legit cried during Hana Khan Carries On. Talk about a book that wrung every emotion I had out of me. It took all my sadness, anger, happiness, and laughter. Hana is such a spunky character. She has to not only tackle the racism and islamaphobia against her community, but she has to figure out difficult conversations about representation and education. In order to succeed, should she portray everything that’s expect of her? How does she stay authentic to her own stories and community? In the midst of changing communities and competition, how do we honor the past, while moving into the future?
At the same time, the “You’ve Got Mail” angle was perfection. I remember how it twisted my heart the first time I saw the film. Hana Khan Carries On that, “can they figure this out together?” feeling from the original while also updating the original. Often I can be disappointed by re-tellings, but this one nailed it. Additionally, Hana Khan Carries On is about banding together as a community. Against the microaggressions, ignorance, and racism. To tell the stories that are authentic to us, not what they expect.
Who is better to tell their stories than themselves? We need to tell the stories we want to hear. The islamaphobia made my heart ache. How do we combat such ignorance and hatred? But Hana Khan Carries On is about just that. About devoting time to improving ourselves, to not letting others hatred bring us down. To celebrating, preserving, and choosing our future. It’s a book that delivers so many layers – all which wrenched my heart.