Book Reviews

Review: TJ Powar Has Something to Prove by Jesmeen Kaur Deo

TJ Powar Has Something to Prove unexpectedly caught me in the feels. As I was reading, I had these moments where I could so deeply relate to TJ. To her struggles with her own image and self-acceptance. And so TJ Powar Has Something to Prove feels timely, moving, and endearing. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


When TJ Powar—a pretty, popular debater—and her cousin Simran become the subject of a meme: with TJ being the “expectation” of dating an Indian girl and her Sikh cousin who does not remove her body hair being the “reality”—TJ decides to take a stand.

She ditches her razors, cancels her waxing appointments, and sets a debate resolution for herself: “This House Believes That TJ Powar can be her hairy self, and still be beautiful.” Only, as she sets about proving her point, she starts to seriously doubt anyone could care about her just the way she is—even when the infuriating boy from a rival debate team seems determined to prove otherwise.

As her carefully crafted sense of self begins to crumble, TJ realizes that winning this debate may cost her far more than the space between her eyebrows. And that the hardest judge to convince of her arguments might just be herself.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: racism, sexism

I loved the premise of TJ Powar Has Something to Prove from before I even started. This idea of confronting body image, sexism, and the unrealistic ideals of human bodies – specifically women’s – is right up my alley. And Kaur Deo engages with these themes with nuance and care. Throughout the book, TJ has to unpack her own internalized sexism, the ways in which our cultures can infiltrate our own mind, and the ways we treat others. Not only did TJ Powar Has Something to Prove give me food for thought, but it also inspired some radical self-acceptance as well.

The ways in which we are told to be ashamed of our body. To practice self-love, while also not truly breaking down these standards of beauty and grooming. How much of our lives, and TJ’s life, revolves around her body hair. The creation of an image. TJ Powar Has Something to Prove is one of those books which inspires you to think. And while reading, I had to also unpack my own feelings about myself – which the best books encourage you to do.

But even more than that, TJ Powar Has Something to Prove goes further than this theme. It allows TJ depth and nuance. Allowing her the space to explore her own feelings both about herself and about romance. To see beyond the expectations we have of others and ourselves. In a world which seeks to tear us down, to create a toxicity about our bodies while also encouraging us to prioritize beauty, the beginnings of acceptance can feel pretty magical.

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TJ Powar Has Something to Prove manages to revolve around activism and self-discovery, but also around love and friendship. If you’re a fan of high school debate, or debate in general, this one should also be on your TBR! Find TJ Powar Has Something to Prove on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite book which stuck with you after you finished?

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