Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin is a novel sure to incite a wide range of emotions in its readers. As a fan of any book about cooking and restaurants, this one’s rival halal restaurants won me over. The main character is also resolute, and I appreciated the commentary on different forms of racism in Canada throughout the book. Those looking for a read that is both upbeat and earnest will not want to miss this one.Title: Hana Khan Carries On
Author: Uzma Jalaluddin
Publisher: Berkley Books
Publication Date: April 13, 2021
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 neighborhood. 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 neighborhood 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.
❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃
Review: Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin
As a part-time waitress at her family’s halal restaurant, Hana is furious when a higher-end, rival halal restaurant plans to open in the same neighbourhood. At the same time, she works as an intern for a local radio station, hoping to someday live her dream and get a job there. However, several hurdles complicate her goals, from surprise visitors to her home, to racism in her workplace, and to a growing connection with the rival restaurant’s infuriating owner. I did find that the story has a bit too much going on, but despite this, I enjoyed reading about the strength of the Golden Crescent community and the more serious themes the book mixes in alongside its rom-com elements.
❀ Complex Main Character
Hana is a complex main character, and I was really rooting for her throughout the story. I admired her passion to protect her family’s restaurant and her refusal to allow the higher-ups at the radio station to control her ideas and use her show to perpetuate stereotypes. However, I also found Hana to be immature as she tries to sabotage the rival restaurant. She is coming from a very pure place, wanting to save her own restaurant, and I understand that this flaw is supposed to be a learning experience for her, but the ways she went about it seemed a little too childish to me.
❀ Powerful Story
I especially enjoyed how this book is unapologetically Canadian. As a Canadian myself, I loved seeing the descriptions of places like the CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium. Most notably, however, is the way Jalaluddin brings light to racism in Canada. Many picture Canada as a country free from racism, and the way the author does not shy away from describing hate-motivated attacks and more subtle forms of oppression makes the book even more powerful.
❀ Heartfelt Contemporary
Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin is a story about community and carrying on. I enjoyed the concept of the rival restaurants, and the main character is dynamic, if a little immature. One of the book’s highlights is its commentary on racism in Canada, and I would definitely recommend it to those looking for a heartfelt contemporary with a twist.