I picked this book up because, as you know, stories about modern Asian women/ second generation expats is totally my catnip. Also, I really like the cover.
Raina is nearly 30 and unmarried. Her grandmother (Nani) is trying desperately to find her a husband. But Raina doesn’t want to meet a nice Indian boy because she’s still in love with her ex… who is still stringing her along. There’s a lot going on in Raina’s life – apart from things with her ex, she’s not sure she loves her job anymore, her best friend Shay is having an epic Indian wedding and Raina herself is questioning why she made the choices she made.
Raina makes a seemingly small choice to lie to her Nani about something and this escalates, rippling out and affecting more and more people until she can’t come clean without hurting a lot of them.
There’s a lot of lovely description about the wider ‘family’ created by the other members of the diaspora. Turns out adopted Aunties in Canada feel just as much right to interfere are Aunties anywhere else. The wedding brings out the most extreme opinions in people anyway.
I loved Nani’s character. She is sweet and acerbic and complex (I especially like the flashbacks to Raina’s childhood where you get a glimpse of who Raina’s mother is like she is).
This is an interesting novel about how we live up to the expectations of other people and whether or not that’s a bad thing. It’s warm, funny in places, and entertaining. If you like Ayisha Malik’s Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged, then you’ll like this.
I received a copy of this via Netgalley in return for a fair review. Thank you Orion and Netgalley.
A couple of weekends ago, I went to RNAConf17 in Telford. This was my 6th conference and, as always, it was fantastic. I was in a flat with the rest of the Naughty Kitchen and sat up until waaaay past my usual bed time, eating chocolate and drinking (tea in my case, because I’m sad like that) and chatting about all manner of things. My favourite moment was when a first time conference attendee suddenly said “It’s so nice to be in the company of so many women who UNDERSTAND what it’s like to have people living in your head.” Yep. We get that.
Oh, and I had a lovely fan girl moment when I ran into Sarah Morgan. I love her books. I babbled. She was very gracious and let me take a photo with her.
I attended talks on how to manipulate images, how to ‘do’ social media, the future of the industry etc. The most eye opening talk by far was by Dr Ria Cheyne who talked to us about her research project into the representation of disability in romantic fiction. Her talk about about things to be aware of when writing disabled characters in romance. This is something I’m interested in. I’ve written depressed characters before, which I’m comfortable doing because I’ve been there. I have an idea in embryo about a mobility impaired character, and, since I don’t have first hand experience of it, I know I need to do research to make her life realistic.
Anyway, here are my notes from the session. If you have time, please visit the DisRom Project and take their survey. Pass it onto friends who read romance.
They’ve only had 500 or so reponses to their survey so far, so not enough to draw conclusions from. But responses to the question ‘Would a disabled character on the cover or in the blurb make you LESS likely to buy the book’ were 1%! Most people said it made no difference. A few people (around 19% said ‘it depends’).
The advice for writing about disability was:
Do your research – look at forums, speak to people with similar conditions. Don’t assume anything. Eg. Wheelchair users aren’t ALWAYS in their wheelchairs. A person using a white cane isn’t necessarily a 100% sightless.
Don’t use disabled secondary characters as a way of showing how good a main character is.
Don’t make disabled characters mysteriously wise (make them real people).
Be wary of recovery narratives where the disability is suddenly cured by a bonk on the head or a new miracle treatment.
Be mindful of language. Eg ‘She was a wheelchair user’ is different to ‘she was confined to a wheelchair’.
Remember hidden disability – not all disability is obvious or visible.
The questions at the end were also illuminating.
We discussed why representation was important (everyone deserves a happy ending!) and talked a little bit about how people reclaim derogatory language and how someone in wheelchair calling themselves a ‘crip’ is potentially realistic and non-offensive, an able-bodied person calling them that would be offensive, just as it would be in real life.
We also discussed how it was a good idea to have people familiar with the condition beta read the book before it goes out. This is a sort of ‘sensitivity beta read’ to check for mistakes or misconceptions rather than to check if anyone is offended by anything (people are offended by all sorts of things, you’d never write a book that doesn’t offend someone, somewhere).
It was a really interesting talk. It made me think about a lot of things.
Here’s the link to the survey again. Please do fill it in (and share).