The Love Match by Priyanka Taslim, Can be read in a few nights depending on your speed, Young Adult
(Thanks to the author for an ARC of the book and Gayatri Sethi for encouraging me to enter the giveaway! You can buy the book everywhere as of January 3, 2023.)
The Love Match often gets compared to the Austen stories, but I think doing so whitewashes what the story actually is. Natoks (Bengali or Indian dramas) are—and deserve to be—their own genre and The Love Match is a wonderful English-language Bengali natok in book form.
Like all good natoks, The Love Match has plenty of drama. Parental set-up. An mysterious and cute new co-worker. Begrudging acquaintances to potential love interest. Auntie gossip. Family love. Good food. Large Bengali gatherings. Overprotective adults. And, of course, it also has a lot of heart. You name it. It’s got it.
In The Love Match, we meet Zahra in the summer after high school. Hoping to have a low-key few months working at the chai shop, hanging out with her best friends, and saving up to attend her dream college. Her mother, however, has other plans. Enter Harun. And then, much to Zahra’s surprise, enter Nayim. Caught between familial duty and personal desire, Zahra finds her chill summer has become anything but.
This may sound like a typical rom com but trust me when I say it’s not. Rarely are stories like this told from a Bengali American perspective and doing so adds a freshness to what can often be a stale and overdone plot. Zahra, in particular, is a favorite of mine. Her sarcastic humor aligned perfectly with my own and I loved that every time I felt myself rolling my eyes at Auntie antics, Zahra had a great one-liner coming up. (Reminded me a little of bit of We are Lady Parts.)
Surprisingly, I actually did not like one of the love interests almost as soon as we meet him. But I actually liked that because then I didn’t really feel torn about who I was rooting for.
Also, fair warning, the twist in the last 1/3 of the book is about as natok-ey of a scene as you can get. So prepare for shenanigans.
The Love Match is truly a delight and I’m really glad I got a chance to read this debut book early.