Thank you so much to Colored Pages Tours, as well as the author and publisher for giving me a copy of ‘Hana Khan Carries On’ in exchange for an unbiased, and honest review!! This is my stop for the tour, and you can click the banner below to view the full schedule, and explore other posts!!
Title: Hana Khan Carries On
Author: Uzma Jalaluddin
Publisher: Harper Avenue
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Retelling
Publication Date: April 13, 2021
Final Rating: 5 stars (I’M IN LOVE!!)
Synopsis (via Goodreads):
From the author of Ayesha at Last comes a sparkling new rom-com for fans of “You’ve Got Mail,” set in two competing halal restaurants.
Sales are slow at Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, the only halal restaurant in the close-knit Golden Crescent neighbourhood. 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 neighbourhood 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.
“As my accountant parents always say, it’s better to deal with issues directly instead of cowering. Be the blade in the hand, not the snake in the grass,” Rashid said. I was starting to wonder if accountant was a New Delhi euphemism for “mafia.”
This book was such a good example on why #OwnVoices authors are important. In a lot of movies, TV shows, books, and really all sorts of social media – South Asians are always portrayed in one stereotypical way, and it’s annoying to see the same desi side character everywhere, because most of us don’t actually relate with them. In Hana Khan Carries On, however, I found a main character I related with, and a family that felt familiar.
Along with that, I loved that even though this book drew on positive experiences, and celebrated South Asian culture, it also wasn’t afraid to show the amount of hate POC, especially immigrants, receive on a daily basis. Everything from casual racist remarks Hana received from her boss, and the full on hate-motivated attack, played such a huge role in the story. They weren’t just brushed over, and added to make the story more “realistic”, but each of these moments added to the story and development of characters.
Your culture is not something to be ashamed of, and this book screamed that message! For example, in one instance, the main character’s elder sister gave up playing professional football, because of the ban of headgear, and she couldn’t stand the thought of taking off her hijab, and betraying her faith – even though her parents didn’t have a problem with it. I found her journey so heartbreaking, but seeing the way her family, and friends helped her grow was worth all the pain.
My cousin took a bite of his second halal hot dog. “I only fight if I’m going to win. That’s the accountant way.” His parents were definitely part of the New Delhi mafia.
Talking about the characters, well, each of them own a little place of my heart now. The amount of thought put into the characterization is evident – not only with the two main characters, but even the side characters with the smallest of roles (sorry, but Rashid is my spirit animal 🥺).
Each of these characters were described so well, with unique personalities, and past decisions that affected their current lives, the characters here were as three-dimensional as they come. I’m not going to give any spoilers, and going to be very vague, but every character was so unique, and loveable, but still also very desi and relatable, if that makes sense.
“Do you regret not taking off the hijab and continuing to play soccer?” Fazeela and I had never really talked about this. She had never wanted to. “Yes,” She said simply. “And I hate them for putting me in that position. I hate that I was a pawn in a stupid political game. I just wanted to play.”
All three types of relationships (romance, friendship, and family) were described with so much depth as well! Since this is a You’ve Got Mail retelling – I’m going to start with the romance. The enemies-to-lovers arc, was developed gradually, with so much yearning that it was impossible not to swoon over! Seeing the online relationship on Hana’s anonymous podcast take place side-by-side with this progression, and them slowly realise who the other truly is, and watch that bond strengthen was beautiful.
The friendships were also the best, because the three main people in the friend group had been best friends since childhood, and this book wonderfully showed that even though it’s great to support your friend through everything, it’s also okay to confront your friend if they do something you’re not comfortable with, as well as be selfish once in a while, and take care of yourself.
I love reading family dynamics in books, especially if they’re desi, and written by a desi author. I found a family, that, yes, wasn’t like my own, but reflected bits of my parents and brother in, which was so lovely to see. Seeing how much this family cared about each other, and the lengths they would go to make sure they’re all happy made me tear up. The parents were so supportive of their children’s dreams, and worked twice as hard to make their children feel safe, and loved.
What was it that famous man said? ‘What’s past is prologue’? “Shakespeare.” Rashid frowned. “I thought it was Shah Rukh Khan.”
All the cousins and extended family from India were completely eccentric, and full of advice, and exciting stories from their childhood! Literally every family member I have as at least one super exaggerated childhood/marriage story, that has to be fake, but they never admit it, so seeing that in a book made my heart full.
This is also kind of unrelated to everything I’ve mentioned till now, but Hana Khan Carries On really reminded me of Dilwane Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (the Bollywood movie), because of it’s ✨ spicy ✨ and super complicated problems, and all the crazy plot twists, and issues, haha.
No matter how much I looked, I honestly couldn’t find anything wrong with this absolutely perfect book! I loved it with ALL of my heart. Along with the best representation, and the most gorgeous story, it made me cry, scream, laugh, and swoon all together, and honestly just made my heart FEEL loads and loads of things 🥺🤍
Hana Khan Carries On was a powerful, and yet heartwarming (desi!) You’ve Got Mail retelling. With characters that stole my heart and ran away with it, and a raw commentary on the hate South Asians receive – ranging from racist comments in the workplace, to full on hate-motivated attacks, this book covered ALL the bases, with depth. The storyline was so well thought-out, with plot twists and reveals at just the right places, and the pacing was just right!
I can now also count the number of books that made me feel represented on more than one hand, and I’m so happy this beautiful story contributes to that list! I’m serious – the amount of tabs I made in my copy, and the amount of sticky notes I used is unbelievable – I just loved this so much! Whether or not you’re desi, this is a MUST-READ! The amount if warmth and comfort it gave me is just unbelievable, and if you’re looking for a fluffy rom-com that deals with heavy (and relatable!) topics – then this one’s for you.
About the Author
Uzma Jalaluddin grew up in a diverse suburb of Toronto, but her favourite place in the world is the nearest bookstore or library. Her debut novel, AYESHA AT LAST (2018), is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in the Toronto Muslim community. The novel was a Goodreads Choice Award Finalist, was featured on The Today Show, and was a Cosmopolitan UK Book of the Year. AYESHA AT LAST has been optioned for film by Pascal Pictures. Her second novel, HANA KHAN CARRIES ON (April 2021), was an instant Canadian bestseller. The novel is a reimagining of ‘You’ve Got Mail’ set in rival halal restaurants. Uzma writes a culture and parenting column for The Toronto Star, and has written for The Atlantic. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and two sons, where she also teaches high school.
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