cover image The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali

Sabina Khan. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-338-22701-7

Like many American teenagers straddling two cultures—that of their foreign-born parents and that outside their home—Seattle high school senior Rukhsana has hopes that diverge from her family’s. Though her conservative Bengali-Muslim parents expect her to attend the nearby University of Washington and to marry a young man, she has secretly applied to Caltech in Pasadena, Calif., and is a closeted-to-them lesbian. Her parents eventually give in on Caltech, but when they discover her kissing her girlfriend, Ariana, they furiously spirit Rukhsana away to Bangladesh under false pretenses. Khan skillfully depicts Rukhsana’s mix of emotions toward her family—frustration and anger, love and loyalty—as well as resentment at the differing expectations her parents hold for her and for her carefree younger brother, Aamir. Relationships ring true, including the siblings’ teasingly affectionate relationship and Rukhsana and Ariana’s struggles navigating their romance under difficult circumstances. The complicated plot and the large cast of characters, both in Seattle and in Bangladesh, occasionally overwhelm, but Rukhsana’s voice offers a steady blend of compassion and humor as she schemes—with several likable allies—to follow her dreams, perhaps at the cost of losing her family. Ages 14–up. [em]Agent: Hillary Jacobson, ICM Partners. (Jan.) [/em]