Cover Image: The Beauty of the Moment

The Beauty of the Moment

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Member Reviews

Susan is uptight and talks like a middle-aged lady. Malcolm is a bad boy who used to do drugs. They date and break up and maybe get back together. Nothing much happens. It wasn't bad, it was just boring. There is some good stuff about family dynamics and disappointing parents in here, but not enough to save the book.
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Susan Thomas and her mother are settling into their new home in Canada while Susan's father finishes up finding a replacement for his medical practice in Jeddah. Both parents want Susan to ace her senior year, and be ready to apply to university in either engineering or the medical field. Susan, however, is an artist, and would like to have more of a say in that decision. The book alternates between her and Malcolm (a boy at her new high school) whose family dysfunction and fracturing has led him to be labeled quite the bad boy. I enjoyed the nod to Bhathena's earlier book--a drawing of Zarin, a former school mate of Susan's back in Jeddah. A Girl Like That really stuck with me and when I realized this was by the same author, I knew I would want to read it.
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Susan has just recently moved to Canada with her mother from Saudi Arabia. Adjusting to a new school and country proves to be lonely and difficult for Susan. She misses her best friend and her father, who is still working in Saudi Arabia. Susan is immediately attracted to Malcolm, the boy who sits behind her in English class, who has the reputation of a bad boy. They clash as they are attracted to each other because Susan is more motivated to do what her parents expect of her in school and life in general, even though she wants to be an artist instead of a doctor or engineer. As the months pass, Susan's father continues to push back his move to Canada, offering multiple excuses to Susan's mother. It becomes increasingly clear that her parents' marriage may not survive. As circumstances begin to spin out of control, Susan and Malcolm will have to decide to do what others expect them to do or to follow their dreams.
I really enjoyed this book, and I think it's one of the best YA novels I've read so far this year. I enjoyed learning more about different cultures as well as the portrayal of several different types of relationships. I was emotionally invested in the characters and their story because the author did such an excellent job of creating realistic and sympathetic characters. At times I felt like I was there watching the story unfold. I found several quotes that were personally encouraging to me, and I was satisfied with the way everything turned out in the end. I didn't agree with some of the views or actions presented or some of the language used, but other than that I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to Tanaz Bhathena's next book. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA fiction.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. A positive review was not required, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.
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This book was definitely an adorable and refreshing contemporary romance filled with tons of diversity and set in Canada! The fact that it takes place in Canada had me geeking out so much! Anyways, back to the actual book, we follow Susan and Malcolm and their intertwining love story as well as family drama. It takes a lot to fall in love against parents wishes or to be the perfect poster child. Sometimes life becomes too stressed out and as the title says we have to live in “the beauty of the moment.” I thought that this book was a very inspiring read and the representation was spot on, I hope even though I’m not Indian or Saudi Arabian. I found that there could have been more added to this and some chapters were pretty slow, but those are just some criticism. Overall, a decent contemporary for romance lovers.
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In a nutshell: The Beauty of the Moment was a touching, light-hearted contemporary novel on first loves, family pressure, forgiveness and the future. 

Tanaz Bathena’s debut novel, A Girl Like That was one of my favourite books of 2018. It was poignant and it broke my heart and so, when I got the chance to read The Beauty of the Moment a little early, I JUMPED. I could see the evolution in Tanaz’s writing, especially in terms of how well-defined her interpersonal relationships were and it was such a joy to read. 


1.	I loved how Tanaz Bathena managed to capture the quintessential Indian family, with their nuances, flaws and all. It felt REAL to me, as someone living in India with slightly overbearing Indian parents. Even Susan’s mom’s reaction when she showed up drunk for the first time was QUITE HILARIOUSLY ACCURATE. 
2.	Slow, well-done romance: I quite liked the romance between Susan and Malcom, their awkwardness and also all the kissing. 
3.	The Syrian refugees: It was really touching to see that even though this was a feel good, contemporary novel, that there was so much social responsibility in the characters and empathy.
4.	The art: Susan’s descriptions of her own art and also the art on the cover and also at the start of each chapter. 
5.	IT WAS A JUST NICE BOOK, OKAY? It made me feel happy inside after reading a whole string of fantasies that were dark and twisty and I quite loved it. 

Would I recommend this book? YES! I’ve read and loved both of Tanaz Bathena’s books so far and I CANNOT RECOMMEND IT ENOUGH.
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Actual rating: 3.5 stars.

Tanaz Bhathena’s A Girl Like That was my absolute favorite book of last year, so it’s safe to say I had high expectations – which were met, for the most part, with her sophomore novel. This follows the stories of Susan and Malcolm – two Indian-Canadian teenagers trying to live their daily lives and make it through each day as best as they can. When their paths collide, they feel an immediate pull towards each other, and so begins a love story with two characters you can’t help but fall in love with.

Bhathena writes with such ease, it’s impossible not to get lost in her world. Both Susan and Malcolm are beautifully developed characters, each with hopes and ambitions, each with complicated family lives, and each trying to find their way through life. Their relationship felt very believable, and you become immediately invested. Bhathena’s ability to weave sociopolitical commentary into her narratives is also incredible; she touches upon immigration, the refugee crisis, racism, domestic violence and loss all in one book and does so really well. Her portrayal of how Susan moving to Canada takes a toll on her friendships and how she misses her past life resonated a lot with me.

My main issues with the novel was that I felt it dragged at times. It could have been shorter, and it would have been more impactful had it been about 50 or so pages shorter. But I would still highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good contemporary.
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The Beauty of the Moment reminds me of To All the Boys I Loved Before, but with only one boy, one little sister, one book, and immigrant parent complications. There’s still the great sibling relationship, the trouble with driving,  the compelling relationship between opposites, and the mean girl ex-girlfriend that gets to mature with her own arc.

I really love having it switch between Susan and Malcolm’s POV. I wasn’t sold on Peter K until the very last book of TATBILB and even then, reluctantly. Malcolm getting to tell his story made it super easy to understand and believe him during the rocky relationship portion.

Susan and Malcolm come from unhappy homes with wildly different set ups.  The contrast and balance between the two situations is fantastic. They may each console and vent to each other, but all the progress is made individually.

I do wish we saw more of Susan’s mom’s changes first hand as well as finding out what happened to Malcolm’s crew.

anger management boxing lesson
the concert
girl trio
boy trio that doesn’t suck
The last scene + sentence

Great Rating Graphic


This is the part of her love story that Amma never tells our relatives: the bit where her Happy Ever After turns into a Lifetime of Drudgery.


My knuckles strain against my skin. Let the old man try. This time Mahtab isn’t here to stop me.


“Oh yeah, bunking. That’s what the Brits call it. Or brown people colonized by Brits.”


“I don’t know what happened between you and that boy, Susan. but love isn’t easy.” She stares at the closed bathroom door. “You just need to decide if it’s worth the trouble.”


Love should not be one-sided.
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Such a sweet story, loved the characters and the themes. Cannot recommend this book enough! Bhathena's prior book was one of my favorites from last year and this book might be my favorite contemporary books of this year.
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Susan is the good girl: an innocent Indian Christian newly-transplanted from Saudi Arabia to Mississauga, Ontario, eager to please her parents by getting excellent grades, obeying the rules, and staying out of trouble and away from boys. Malcolm is the bad boy: a Canadian-Indian Parsi troublemaker, former alcohol and drug abuser, and angry teen since his mother’s death two years before. Despite her sheltered background and his apparent disregard for authority and responsibility, they’re drawn to each other. As Susan shares her dream of becoming an artist in defiance of her parents’ plans and her anger over their possible divorce and Malcolm (“The One Without a Future, according to every adult in his life”) reveals his father’s abuse, neglect, and adultery while his mom was wasting away from cancer, they start to have a positive influence on each other. Then that trust is broken. With time and determination, will they get a second chance?

Bhathena has written a riveting teen romance that goes beyond the standard meet cute, break-up, and  reconciliation formula. In choosing to tell the story from the points of view of both Susan and Malcolm, she’s given readers an intimate view of the damage that parental expectation, alienation, and selfishness have on children. All of the characters are well-developed and both Susan’s art and the various Indian religions are also key elements that drive this culturally-diverse story. Highly recommended and a first choice for libraries that serve teens.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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I really enjoyed The Beauty of the Moment, it’s a sweet story about relationships and family. Also how culture and religion play into who we are and how we act.

I thought the culture part of the story was so interesting. I realized how little I know about Indian culture and I loved every second of learning about it through the story. I also looked up more about Parsi and Desi. I really thought the tidbits about what it’s like in Saudi Arabia and even Canada. I want to read more books like this. Just even the characters misunderstanding about each other and there is one part where Susan explains her name. I just thought everything was presented in a way that for someone like me who doesn’t know these things could understand.

The family element is so strong in the story. I loved that, I loved that it really shows different types of family dynamics. I might have not been happy that Susan’s parents were deciding her future. I could also see though that they just want her to have a successful life. Especially her mother that gave up things in order to marry and have children. I think that is something that is completely relatable. My mom did the same and she was happy with her choice but she was also insistent about me going to college (I was the first in my family to go to college, I have 3 older brothers). I can tell you my dad wasn’t necessarily happy that I went to a Liberal Arts College for my Journalism degree. Ha ha. So I loved how the book showed that yes we are all made up of different cultures and things but the heart of a family is important to everyone.

I loved the characters!!! Especially Malcolm. He is a such a cool and sweet boy. He’s someone who has had trouble in the past, especially after dealing with his mom’s death but the way he picks himself back up. I love that he stands his ground on things he is trying to improve about himself. He’s just so open and honest it’s hard not to like him.

I also really like Susan. She is shy and reserved at times but can really take care of herself. She’s smart and works hard but also loves her art. I loved seeing her really come out of her shell.

I really loved the story. There are so many things about it that mesh so well together. I love that when the conflict comes up in the romance, there isn’t a magical easy fix. The characters have to really work on themselves to find a way back from it. I thought the book had some really great storytelling!!

I really enjoyed the book and definitely recommend it for you contemporary read list.
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“I have been called too Saudi for India even though I don’t have a passport from the Kingdom, and too Indian for Saudi Arabia even though in my birth country I am treated like a foreigner.  For the longest time, I thought that I didn’t fit in anywhere.  Even at Qala Academy, among other kids straddling lines between two different cultures, there were times I felt like an alien.  But here, in this moment, I wonder if fitting in is important at all.”

In The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena, readers are introduced to the world of a Canadian immigrant through the story of Susan, a senior in high school who has immigrated to Canada with her mother in the hopes of greater opportunities than were available for women in Saudi Arabia.  While focusing on her studies and attempting to please her Amma and Appa, Susan meets resident troublemaker Malcolm, and despite their very different personalities, sparks quickly fly.  What follows is a predictable teen romance, complete with disapproving parents and jealous exes; however, what sets this novel apart is the full characterization of both Susan and Malcolm.  Both teens are struggling with difficulties in their home lives--Susan’s parents face separation with her father still working in Saudi Arabia, and Malcolm can’t forgive his father in the wake of his mother’s death.  They also both struggle with their identities: Will Susan shape her life into that of an engineer or doctor as desired by her parents, or will she pursue her deep love of art?  Will Malcolm continue to fulfill his bad-boy reputation, or will he learn to forgive those around him?  The other aspect that readers will appreciate is that all of this self-revelation takes time; the relationship, as well as the individual identities, is not forged overnight, and there is a constant reminder that things that matter can be messy and will take time.  Through authentic-feeling conversations, readers will learn aspects of Middle Eastern culture that they probably didn’t know before, and their eyes will be opened to the struggle that women have in different corners of the world; additionally, the sub-plot revolving around the plight of Syrian refugees will encourage empathy-building, all while being couched in the love story of an easy-to-root-for couple.  A strong purchase for libraries that are looking to stretch the scope of their YA romance collections.
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The Beauty of the Moment was a very enjoyable, and sweet, coming-of-age story. It balanced a cute, realistic love story, with real, relatable characters, who mature a lot throughout the book.

I liked the contrast and comparison between the main characters, Susan and Malcolm. They were different in a lot of ways, and very similar, in others. They were both struggling with who they were, and wanted to be, versus what others saw, and expected them to be.

The writing style was easygoing and very engaging. I flew through the pages – finishing this book in a single Sunday. I was also pleasantly surprised by the level of humor. I love contemporary romances that make me smile and chuckle!
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Susan is such a complex character. Beauty of the moment was truly a story about immigration. A love story. Coming of age story with an outsider learning not to balance two personas at once. Yet Malcolm saw parts of her no one else did and that was beautiful. I really had a lot of emotions for this book.
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The Beauty of the Moment was such an interesting and delightful tale. Initially, I thought this to be a simple YA contemporary romance novel but once I dived into it, it proved to be way more than that. Tanaz Bhathena has handled all the different themes in the story quite well and I fell in love with it.

This book has a wonderful set of characters. Our main characters are truly likeable and relatable, though they are complex ones.

Susan Thomas is an Indian Girl who moves from Saudi Arabia to Canada for her final year of high school. She faces all kind of challenges while trying to fit into her new school and the new culture. She always had been the perfect daughter – achieving the highest scores in all subjects and always tried to meet her parents’ expectations. Her parents wanted her to be a doctor or engineer, but secretly she wished to be an artist. Malcolm Vakil is a Parsi boy dealing with his own problems and reputations. He is trying to come out of his bad reputation which he got because of his indulgence in drugs and alcohol after his mom died. He also has a father who has been abusive to him in the past and now they have a tough relationship.

There are many amazing side characters too. I adored Mahtab, Malcolm’s younger sister. She always took care of Malcolm as if she was his elder sister instead of another way around. Alisha, Susan’s best friend back in Saudi Arabia, is the BFF we all want in our lives. Though now she and Susan were countries apart, their relationship also got affected but I loved how the author has handled this change. Susan’s mother was quite a strict one and to some level, she showed the strictness of a typical Indian woman. She wanted to live her unfulfilled dreams through her. Malcolm’s uncle, Mancher, certainly was a favourite character. He was funny and gave some really good advice to Malcolm about love and life.

The immigrant experience has been handled quite well by the author. Susan lived in Saudi Arabia till now and suddenly when she moves to Canada, she struggles to fit in the new culture. She constantly compares her life in Saudi Arabia with Canada, how her school was different, how the courses and teachers were different, how girls were not allowed to do certain things. 

“I have been called too Saudi for India even though I don’t have a passport from the Kingdom, and too Indian for Saudi Arabia even though in my birth country I am treated like a foreigner.”

These lines are really impactful. Though I don’t have any immigration experience, I was totally able to relate to it. In India, it’s not just about the country. Even with the different states, we often get to hear this thing.

I am really happy to see the number of diverse characters YA books have these days. This book too has almost all the diverse characters and it makes the story more relatable to me. Susan is an Indian Christian, Malcolm is an Indian Parsi. Malcolm’s friends are also from different religions. Having all these different religions in a single story truly represents my country which is so diverse.

This story is definitely a coming-of-age story. I loved the character growth of both Susan and Malcolm. Susan wanted to be an artist but always was afraid to talk about this to her parents. But the differences between her parents’ relationship finally make her realise what she wants to really do and stand out in front of her parents. She learned to accept herself. She learned to make new friends and finally understood the fact that nothing in the world is guaranteed.

Malcolm’s journey was quite amazing too. After he met with Susan, he started seeing things differently and tried to be mature. He started working harder towards achieving his goals. I loved the way he tried to improve his relationship with his step-mother and father. That really gave him the push he needed for appreciating himself more.

I totally adored the romance between Susan and Malcolm. It was not the typical high-school romance. It was amazing to see how they both proved to be a good influence on each other. They made each other strong and made each other realise their own worth. Within each other’s company, they tried to be better and encouraged each other to achieve the goals they wanted to.

The author has beautifully shown the hard way of love too. She showed that love is not always easy and it doesn’t necessarily give you what you always want. Rather it’s a difficult path to follow. And I loved the way the author has played out the ending of the story.

I totally loved this story and I applaud the author for including so many important things in the story. This is a fantastic story about first love, loss, relationships and achieving your dreams and to grow up in that process. I would definitely recommend this if you love YA contemporaries 🙂
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Susan has just moved to Canada from Jeddah, Saudi Araba where she meets bad boy Malcolm. Malcolm is everything Susan is not, yet they quickly form a connection. While they may have a connection, both of their unresolved issues may threaten relationship before it begins. This novel is a balanced portrait of two teens and how both their baggage affects their developing relationship. Susan is adjusting to a new place; to a new school where she realizes some things don't come that easy; and to a realization that she wants to pursue a different career path than the one her parents want her to pursue. While Malcolm is still mourning his mother's death; has an estranged relationship with his father and stepmother; is a recovering from substance abuse; and has little interest in school. A recurring theme is the realization that their parents are human. This novel is told in alternating chapters by Susan and Malcolm their perspective of themselves and the people around them shifts throughout the story. While their are loose connections to Bhathena's previous book, A Girl Like That -- Susan went to the same school as Zarin -- this is a standalone. Highly recommended to those who enjoy character-focused realistic fiction.
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"This is your heart. It’s not made of glass. Your heart is made of muscle, tough and resilient. It’s strong enough to weather most things, including emotional storms. Naturally, in the nature of muscle, the heart also has its weaknesses. It retains memories, good and bad. But muscle can be retrained, reshaped, can be made to learn new habits."

This book hit too close to home for me. I recently lost someone to cancer and it’s still so fresh that this hit me hard. But this story was more than a loss, it was acceptance and the romantic comedy that breathes a breath of fresh air into the genre. 

Susan and Malcolm were two characters that you instantly fall in love with. Their demeanors, their backgrounds, and their meet-cute were really something to brag about. The writing style was so superb that this was one you never wanted to end. 

The Beauty of the Moment was a great story of acceptance, love, and a greater story beyond. The struggle the characters face was heartbreaking and all too current. You just wanted to hug them close and never let them go. You'll want to pick this book up. You won't be disappointed.
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I loved Bhathena's first book A Girl Like That and I couldn't wait to read her new one. Beauty of the Moment is a change of pace from A Girl Like That. It is more lighthearted, while still touching on serious, relevant issues pertaining to teens while set against the backdrop of a sweet, realistic romance. 

Susan has just immigrated to Canada from Saudi Arabia with her mom. She has a bit of culture shock as she attends a co-ed high school and starts getting attention from boys. Her parents are demanding and pressure her to do the absolute best in school in the hopes of going to university to become a doctor or an engineer.

Malcolm is the class clown/ bad boy of the school. His mom died from bone cancer years before and his family life has been unstable ever since, including an incident where his father beat him. He has slowly stopped caring about school and parties with friends.

When the two meet, they both start becoming more comfortable with who they are and find comfort in each other. Their romance is somewhat chaste and innocent, but sweet and very realistic. Like most romances, there is a part when they break up and separate. Without spoiling anything, I liked how this was handled and that they didn't rush back together but there was still forgiveness.

The Beauty of the Moment is another great addition to the trend of diverse romances. Although a little more serious than Sandhya Menon and Maurene Goo's books, this will satisfy fans of both. I'm definitely a fan of Bhathena and can't wait to read more from her.
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This was an utterly interesting and engaging tale. There are so many ways to classify this story. It's an immigrant experience story. It's a love story. It's a story of heartbreak. It's a coming-of-age story. Whichever the case, I thought Bhathena did them all quite well, and I really enjoyed meeting Susan and Malcolm. 

Both Malcolm and Susan were well written and multidimensional characters, who I grew to care for. On the surface, they seem so different from each other, but both were dealing with some issues, which were keeping them from moving forward. 

Susan had been the perfect daughter back in Saudi Arabia. She got top marks, and would never dream of running around with boys or lying to her parents. Then, she found herself in a new country with an absent father and a mother who was growing more and more distant. She was struggling to adjust to this new learning and teaching style, hiding her collegiate dreams from her parents, and engaging in a secret relationship with Malcolm. Her parents' arguing and impending divorce was the straw that broke the camel's back, and forced Susan to evaluate her dreams and needs. It was a really meaningful journey with took with her, as she learned to assert herself more, learned to appreciate the grey areas, and also come to terms with the fact, that nothing was guaranteed. 

And then, there was Malcolm. He was still dealing (poorly) with his mother's death, as well as his father's past abuse and infidelities. Though, he was no longer as self-destructive as he had been in the past. he still bore the reputation he earned. By being with Susan, he started seeing things through a much more mature lens. He started believing the praise and recognition he was receiving, and started working harder to achieve at the level people thought he could achieve. I really loved watching Malcolm grow, chapter by chapter. I don't know, maybe it's because he was an underdog, or maybe it's because I am all about second chances, but his story really warmed my heart. 

For me, this book was really about growing up, and the way maturing changes us and the way we navigate relationships. It was about making mistakes and owning up to them, but obviously, I also adored all the way love was integrated into the story. Bhathena showed the upside and downside of love. She showed how it can be really messy, but still really beautiful. I definitely appreciated the way Malcolm and Susan's romance played out, because I thought it was very realistic. 

And, wow! What a fabulous ending. I absolutely loved what Bhathena did there. I knew she wouldn't make it easy for me, but she left me super happy in the end. 

Overall: A fantastic look at love, growing up, and taking chances to achieve one's dreams.
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(I received a free eARC from Fantastic Flying Book Club for a voluntary and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own)

The Beauty of the moment By Tanaz Bhathena

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 3/5 stars


(DISCLAIMER: All thoughts and opinions are my own)

Susan is the driven new girl, determined to meet her parent’s expectations. Malcolm is the bad boy with a reputation. Susan’s parents are on the brink of divorce while Malcolm’s father is a notorious adulterer. Despite their messy families, the two of them fall in love.

I love that both Susan and Malcolm are POC characters and that Susan loves Art.

I think the book came out and at a great time with an important message about the Syrian crisis as well. It is dramatic and has similar vibes to American Panda by Gloria Chao. It was cute, and although I personally couldn't connect to the characters, I did find the story really interesting.
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I'd read Tanaz Bhathena's debut, A Girl Like That, and I was so excited for her sophomore novel. It didn't disappoint! The Beauty of the Moment was a beautifully poignant book that speaks to all of us.

While reading this book, I could perfectly picture it as a movie or a tv show. Yes, it's a slice of life book, but honestly, the way Bhathena writes evokes such vivid scenes in my head. I couldn't stop thinking about how this book would translate to the screen. I mean, the lighting, the calmness! All in the likes of an indie film or a la the Norwegian tv show Skam.

Anyways, the first half of the book was good, but the last half, specifically the last third, is when I really fell in love with this book. At this point, the characters really reach the peak of their character arcs, something we've been waiting for throughout the entire book. They grow so much, and I just. Love the two main characters sososo much.

There is so much representation in this story! Susan is a Christian Malayali Indian, who moved to Saudi Arabia, and now Canada. Malcolm is a Zoroastrian Parsi Canadian (I'm not sure if that's the correct order of adjectives, please correct my mistakes!), and there are other Indian and Parsi characters.

The Beauty of the Moment actually takes after A Girl Like That; Susan, one of the two protagonists, went to the same school as Zarin. It's been a while since I've read the latter book, so I don't remember if she's mentioned in the narrative, but it was interesting to touch on those events in this book. I will say that The Beauty of the Moment is very different, purely in the fact that no one dies in this book, as the author says. Also, this book is definitely more of a heartfelt rom-com compared to AGLT's nuanced story about double standards and religions.

One thing that I really loved was that, although Susan's parents are strict, they aren't like obviously overbearing at all times. I really related to that, as a child of immigrants; when you grow up with Expectations, they just become ingrained in you, to the point where you don't know if you personally want to accomplish them or if they're just something you think you have to accomplish. I think that when YA books show this, they usually only show the parents only ever talking about school and whatnot, but in reality, the Expectations are piled on you so gradually that they don't have to bring them up constantly.

And what was so great to me was that the ending wasn't so cut and dry because that's just life sometimes. It was so perfectly bittersweet and realistic to the characters' growth. Although it wasn't necessarily the happy ending I wanted, it was definitely the one I needed for the story to hold its meaning.

The Beauty of the Moment was such a delightful, moving, heartwarming novel. The characters are so great and real, and the writing was so beautiful. Overall, this book was so realistic and so vivid; I could definitely envision it as a movie or tv show. Pick The Beauty of the Moment up this Tuesday; you won't regret it.

**This review will be up on February 23 as a part of the blog tour.**
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