Finished The Love & Lies of Rokhsana Ali by Sabina Khan.
Summary (from Goodreads):
“Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.
But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective.
Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?”
I’d heard so many great things about this book from friends, so I was very excited to read it but it ended up being even better than I was expecting.
I loved Rukhsana and her relationship with her brother; I loved how she genuinely didn’t want to hurt or disappoint her parents, even as they were being unreasonable. I also loved her friends and girlfriend, even though I also got very mad because they were almost gaslighting her about how her parents would react; they were sure that she was exaggerating about how horrified they would be if they learned she was gay.
Parts of this book were really hard to read but it was also amazing. I hope there is a sequel or a companion novel, because I’m not ready to say goodbye to this world yet.