Thank you to Farah Naz Rishi and Harper Collins for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
After Kiran Noorani’s mom died, Kiran vowed to keep her dad and sister, Amira, close. Then out of the blue, Amira announces that she’s dating someone and might move cross-country with him. Kiran is thrown.
Deen Malik is thrilled that his older brother, Faisal, has found a great girlfriend, even if it’s getting serious quickly. Maybe now their parents’ focus will shift off Deen, who feels intense pressure to be the perfect son.
When Deen and Kiran come face to face, they silently agree to keep their past a secret. Four years ago–before Amira and Faisal met–Kiran and Deen dated. But Deen ghosted Kiran with no explanation. Kiran will stop at nothing to find out what happened, and Deen will do anything, even if it means sabotaging his brother’s relationship, to keep her from reaching the truth. Though the chemistry between Kiran and Deen is undeniable, can either of them take down their walls?
Synopsis source: Goodreads
“There are millions of shayaris and ghazals and songs that spin beautiful words about what love is: fire, wine, pain,” he goes on. “But that is all passion. Feeling. Love, on the other hand, is an act. A practice. A decision.”Rishi, 2021, p109
When I first heard about this book, I was excited. It was touted as a cross between Pride & Prejudice and When Dimple Met Rishi, and I couldn’t wait to start!
In It All Comes Back to You, we have the online BFFs who are falling for each other but don’t know each other’s true identities but who are in real life ex-boyfriend and girlfriend. Three years ago when Kiran and Deen dated briefly, unbeknownst to anyone but them, Deen completely ghosted Kiran, leaving her hurt and angry. When Kiran’s sister, Amira, announces that she has fallen in love and a marriage proposal on the horizon, Kiran is blind-sided. When she realizes that Amira’s new beau is Deen’s older brother, who has a murky and mysterious past, Kiran goes into protective mode.
Meanwhile, Deen is dead-set on making sure that things between his brother, Faisal, and Amira go off without a hitch. Knowing that Kiran already holds a grudge toward him, he sets about trying to charm her, but when Kiran remains determined to undermine Amira’s and Faisal’s relationship, he is just as determined to stop her.
The synopsis is a bit misleading about Deen’s motivations and intentions in my opinion. The synopsis makes it sound like he’s blowing up Faisal’s relationship with Amira on purpose, when that’s very much not the case. Throughout the book, it is very clear that Deen and Faisal’s secret, the same secret that caused Deen to ghost Kiran three years ago, has been weighing heavily on both of the brothers. We know that Deen carries a large amount of guilt where Faisal is concerned, but we aren’t sure exactly why. That guilt is what motivates Deen to focus on ensuring Faisal’s happiness in such a way that he risks everything else around him.
Kiran, on the other hand, has had a tough time and I felt for her so much. Her mom died of ALS less than a year ago, a burden in and of itself, but one of the last things her mom said to her was to keep her family together. With her dad not himself after her mom’s death and her sister living away from home, Kiran feels that her family is slipping through her fingers, and the tighter she holds on, the less she is able to hold on to. Her parents both burdened her unfairly in my opinion: her mom inadvertently putting the burden of keeping the family together on Kiran’s young shoulders; both of them telling her to keep Amira in the dark when their mom started getting sick so as not to affect her grades and thus leaving Kiran without anyone to talk to. These things made Kiran feel like she had to fill a very adult role when she was unprepared and seemingly without a support system to fall back on. I felt for her so bad. She cares so much, feels so much. And the only person she could talk to when her mom started getting sick, the boy she’s dating but couldn’t tell anyone about because Muslims don’t really date before marriage, ends up ghosting her and she’s left, for all intents and purposes, on her own.
There’s a lot going on in this book. I was totally expecting a light-hearted YA, but this is definitely more of a coming-of-age type story than a YA rom-com. There was a lot of chat banter back and forth between Kiran and Deen, both in their texts from when they were dating to their online game chat room, and I found myself laughing out loud several times. So there was some light-heartedness to break up some of the heavier things going on. But there are a lot of heavy topics here: grief, guilt, bullying, and references to substance abuse.
If I had to pick at anything, the book was a bit slow at times and could have done with a bit quicker pacing. Also, Deen’s character came off at times as a bit two dimensional, almost a caricature of himself, but I think that that was intentional to show how he had a mask he wore for the world. This became clearer as we find out more about the big secret. BUT I felt that the author spent more time developing that mask and focusing on his guilt-ridden mission than on developing the character we were told he was at the end.
Still, it makes me glad to see YA books like this out there because I think they help the younger generations process things they might themselves be feeling or going through. I think that Ms. Rishi did a lovely job of working out the character’s inner conflicts, showed a mature viewpoint of romantic relationships, and resolved the story in a very satisfying way that was reflective of Muslim values, with love and kindness.
It All Comes Back to You comes out tomorrow, September 14th, 2021, so be sure to check it out wherever you get your books!
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