The Loophole

Naz Kutub. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-5476-0917-8

Kutub weaves heartbreak with Muslim-inspired fantasy in a bighearted genre-blending debut. After closeted 17-year-old Indian American Sy’s boyfriend Farouk breaks up with him and promptly leaves the U.S., Sy throws himself into his thankless L.A. coffee shop job. There, he meets avant-garde English heiress Reggie, who offers to grant him three wishes in exchange for an egg salad sandwich. As a joke, he wishes for a million dollars, which immediately appears in his bank account. When his father learns that he’s queer and kicks him out of the house, Sy asks Reggie to help him find Farouk, and the duo traipse the globe aboard a private jet searching for him. Along the way, Sy experiences Islamophobia and homophobia, while his fantastical adventures offer levity en route to an emotional resolution. Though the jam-packed plot and alternating past and present chapters occasionally overshadow Sy’s interpersonal relationships and lessen narrative urgency, Kutub’s highly stylized prose (one minor character is referred to as a “bearded-to-the-neckline LumberChad”) and Sy’s energetic deep dive into his heritage present an upbeat, wish-fulfillment tale. Ages 13–up. Agent: Natalie Lakosil, Bradford Literary. (June)
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