Cover Image: The Love Match

The Love Match

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me free access to the advanced digital copy of this book, as this book has already been published, I will not share my review on Netgalley at this time.

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"The Love Match" is a groundbreaking addition to YA literature, seamlessly blending a heartwarming romance with a celebration of Bangladeshi culture. Priyanka Taslim's debut novel is a refreshing and much-needed exploration of love, identity, and family dynamics within the South Asian diaspora.

From the outset, the book stands out for its authentic representation of Bangladeshi characters, specifically the Sylheti community. The infusion of Sylheti language into the narrative adds a unique and captivating layer, making it a rare gem in the world of YA literature. Taslim's portrayal of Bangladeshi culture is a testament to her love and nuance, bringing forth relatable characters like Zahra's Amma, whose expressions of love and care resonate deeply with those familiar with the culture.

The novel's exploration of Bangladeshi history and the nuanced relationships between Bangladeshis and Pakistanis adds depth and relevance to the narrative. Taslim effortlessly weaves these cultural threads into Zahra's journey, creating a tapestry that goes beyond a simple love story.

The love triangle, a challenging trope to master, is executed with brilliance. Both love interests, Harun and Nayim, are compelling and root-worthy, offering readers a delightful dilemma. Taslim not only crafts a swoony and romantic atmosphere but also subverts traditional romantic ideas, keeping the narrative fresh and engaging.

Beyond the romance, the ensemble cast of characters, predominantly South Asian, adds richness to the story. The sapphic side character brings a new layer of diversity, and the dynamic relationships within the community, including the Auntie Network, offer moments of joy and laughter.

In the story, Taslim effortlessly weaves Islamic components into the characters' daily lives, offering a nuanced depiction of Muslim identity. The novel genuinely includes commonplace Islamic rituals, such as rising for Fajr and observing Eid, and makes for a relatable and optimistic reading encounter.

The book features Muslim characters and embraces cultural practices without falling into the tropes of oppression or rebellion. Taslim adeptly weaves Islam into the story, normalizing it within the characters' lives. The inclusion of LGBTQ+ relationships, dating, and other contemporary issues is presented with a lens that respects and embraces diversity within the Islamic framework.

As an Own Voices rom-com, "The Love Match" breaks away from stereotypical narratives and portrays Islam in a normalized, everyday context. The characters' experiences with Islam feel genuine, and the book succeeds in dispelling stereotypes, internalized Islamophobia, and tropes that sometimes accompany Muslim representation in literature.

"The Love Match" is more than just a romantic novel; it's a celebration of diaspora life, embracing the familiarity of cultural nuances and the beauty of love in its various forms. Whether you're seeking a refreshing read or a familiar yet captivating story, "The Love Match" is a must-have on your bookshelf. Priyanka Taslim's debut promises not only a delightful escape but also a genuine reflection of the vibrant Bangladeshi experience.

Huge thanks to NetGalley and Salaam Reads for the opportunity to delve into this wonderful world. Get ready to be swept away by the magic of "The Love Match"!

5 very well earned stars!

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2,5 stars

im sorry but this one was really not for me. as much as i absolutely wanted to love it i just couldn't bring myself to it, forget the writing in general for a bit but WHY WAS A MUSLIM GIRL KISSING A MUSLIM BOY WHEN THEY ARE NOT MARRIED !!!!!!!!!!!

that being said i just generally found this book slow and hard to get into, on the bright side zahra ended up with who i was rooting for ( everyone cheered !! )

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This was such a cute YA contemporary romance. I loved the character dynamics and banter throughout the story.

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3.5 stars rounded up to 4!
I started my reading journey in 2023 with The Love Match by Priyanka Taslim. It’s a romantic comedy exploring an eighteen-year-old Bangladeshi girl’s dilemma in choosing her life partner – the dashing but poor Nayim Akhtar who understands her so well, or the equally dashing but aloof and rich Harun Emon.

I wouldn’t say I was bowled over by the romance, but I enjoyed reading it. The author loves Bollywood and Dhallywood (the film industry in Bangladesh). Consequently, the plot closely resembles a Bollywood film replete with meddling parents, clash between culture and ambition, a hard-working, middle-class girl struggling to achieve her dreams, two hot, eligible bachelors vying for the said girl, lots of confusion, drama, and tears, and finally, a happily-ever-after.

Taslim takes her readers on a colorful and romantic journey. Both the boys pull out all the stops to woo the girl (I am not complaining; there were some heartfelt but gooey scenes that took my breath away). The descriptions of the shalwar kameez and lehengas that Zahra’s mother weaves for her felt magical and oh-so-filmy.

The best parts of The Love Match are the honest conversations among Zahra, her friends, Harun, and Nayim about how parental pressure (especially in Asian families) negatively affects so many children. I also liked how each of these characters navigate through the minfield of parental expectations.

The last three chapters are the best in the book. I wouldn’t spoil the surprise for you. I would recommend The Love Match by Priyanka Taslim to any romance fiction fan yearning for brown protagonists.

Many thanks to the publisher for a complimentary digital copy of the book. This doesn't affect my opinion on the book.

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This book is well written and flows so well. The characters are fully realized and the world is picturesque and yet attainable. Love it!

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Zahra Khan is caught between wanting to save enough money for college and her dreams of writing and pleasing her mother by finding a good match in a future husband. But, when she finds Harun and Nayim, two guys with two different styles and personalities, she’s torn between her heart and her dreams.

I gave <u>The Love Match</u> 3.5 stars, while really enjoying the overall plot, I just found that for something advertised as romance, it wasn’t something that I was connected to. What I found most especially great was Zahra’s character growth throughout the whole book. I was impressed with how well Taslim includes culture and family as a focus but found that Zahra’s relationship with Harun and Nayim was rather redundant.

Zahra’s focus on who she is as a person and how the struggles of wanting to be more accepting in her mother’s eyes was such a pivotal point was what had my attention and I greatly appreciated and even connected to Zahra as, at the time I read this, I was her age and there were much that I could relate to.

In her focus of her romance and love triangle with Harum and Nayim, I felt that the synopsis was a little misleading in this area. I was focusing on reading about a love triangle when there really wasn’t much of a relationship between all three of them to really go on. And I found that one of the love interests wasn’t really someone I considered a “love interest” considering we never really saw the love between them in the first place.

All in all, I felt that <u>The Love Match</u>, while good in terms of the culture, family, and even character growth was what made me enjoy this story and I did appreciate Zahra as a character.

Thank you again to NetGalley for the ARC of <u>The Love Match</u> in exchange for an honest review.

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This was a cute story! as a Bangladeshi American myself it felt so healing to read a story that represents my culture and holds my language. I thought the writing could use some work and it was pretty predictable but it was an easy read.

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Thank you Simon Teen for sending me an ARC of The Love Match!

This book was alright. My official rating is a 2.5 rounded up to a 3. It was cool to learn more about Bengali culture. None of the main characters were white washed and I loved that. I also related to Zahra as the eldest daughter of a single mother. There’s a lot sacrifices you make and a lot of grieving over the life you want to live. Regarding the Muslim rep, Zahra is a bit too lax for me personally but I like that we’re seeing a range of Muslim characters in books nowadays. Zahra loves her faith and is aware of her short comings and I respect that. I think a lot of people will relate to how she practices. I definitely want a spin off about her friend Dalia who seems to be more religious, wears hijab, is a fashion blogger and is plus size! Sign me up!!

As for the romance…?

Imma be honest I hate love triangles so I’m biased. They’re never good or make sense. This one did surprise me but neither of the relationships were super fleshed out. I feel like Zahra was trauma bonding with both guys and wasn’t really in the right head space to date. But it’s YA, the romances are rarely fleshed out so I didn’t have high hopes anyway. Atleast the ending wasn’t like some other Muslim YA books that rush everything.

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dnf'ed @ 80%

Now that the tour for this book is over, i can finally let u guys know that this book was straight up trash, nothing like the blurb. It had great potential, dont get me wrong, but it wasn't properly utilized.

Also, can writers not include Muslim characters if you aren't gonna respect Islamic rulings and values.

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I always love seeing more Desi rep, especially in stories full of brown joy, and this certainly has it! The Love Match is brilliant in the way it shows how Austen-esque the Desi dating scene can be. The Auntie Network was hilarious! But at its core, it's about how those meddling parents can have the best intentions and just want to see the next generation comfortable and happy. It has some of my favorite tropes as well: fake dating, grand gestures, couple thrust into karaoke duet, big sacrifices and more. No spoilers here, but the ending was really the best. Heartfelt and funny, this is a must read!

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I was not a fan of this book. There were defiantly pieces of it I liked- like all of the cultural aspects- but the romance didn't work for me. I wasn't invested in it until 50% in and the the back and forth between the two love interests just really bothered me. I had one I wanted her to pick and kept reading just to see who she picked. Another thing I didn't like was that it ended so abruptly. One moment, they're in the middle of conflict and what seems like the climax of the book and then in the next chapter, everything was wrapped up nice and neat (which we heard about in past tense). Also, I felt like everything was just over the top dramatic which annoyed me.

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The Love Match follows has everything you want in a hallmark YA contemporary: the family drama, the complicated main character, and the comedic writing that keeps you intrigued throughout.

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Really enjoyed this one. Learned about Bangladeshi culture and got a bit of romance and coming of age too. Normally its hard to pull off love triangles bc 1 side always feels cheated but surprisingly that wasn't an issue here. I was so happy that Zahra ended up with Harun. I also thought the discussions of passion as it pertained to both love and career were valid. Lastly, I enjoyed the development and growth that Zahra achieved throughout the book. I feel like she learned alot and most importantly was that she did so for herself.

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Zahra is incredibly loyal to her family. Even when her mother is unsupportive of her desired future as a writer, even when she goes against her wishes and sets her up with a boy for the money, Zahra loves her and works hard to help the household. She can see how hard her mom works and the love and skill that goes into the clothes her mom makes. Both of them are working so hard to keep their family happy and I admire that a lot. Though their relationship is somewhat on the rocks for much of the book, they’re able to work together and learn about each other.

Zahra’s friends Dani, Dalia, and Mena are very supportive and willing to listen, even as she wants to keep everything in. She’s willing to divert her dreams in order to help her family, keeping all her true feelings unspoken until she’s ready to burst.

Harun is the clear winner in my books. He’s much more interesting and genuine than Nayim. Nayim has the benefit of working with Zahra and spending more time with her but Zahra’s connection with Harun felt better. I don’t like that Zahra might feel pressured to fall for Harun because of money and the future he could give her, but their connection is stronger. While their relationship is fairly formulaic and predictable, the setting and supporting friendships make this book more than enjoyable.

I loved the atmosphere Taslim described. The food, the holidays, the clothes, the colors, the scents…I would love to be part of such a thing, especially the food and clothes. The vibrancy of both of these aspects made it really easy to imagine the characters and their surroundings.

The non-love relationships as well as the wonderful descriptions and characters carried this book. It’s a very easy read and gives what I hope is a genuine look into the lives of Bangladeshi Americans and how they experience life in America. I really enjoyed the writing style and hope to read more from Taslim.

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Thank you NetGalley for a copy. This romance story had so many plot twists that I was always pleasantly surprised. The themes of family, identity, and self-reliance can all be discussed. There are Lesbian side characters, and I did not think that the Bangladeshi parents’ acceptance was realistic. The characters are Muslim, but this is not a religious story or even a halal romance (hence the kissing). Actually, culture takes the forefront of this story and is detailed beautifully. I wish there was a glossary or more direct in-context translation of the other languages used. I wouldn’t be able to recommend this for a school library, but I enjoyed the happy ending.

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I really enjoyed this book. It felt very real and I felt like a teen again reading it. The characters feel so real and i enjoyed getting to know them all. I enjoyed getting to read about Bangladeshi culture and learn something new. This is a book i wouldve loved in high school and really enjoyed as an adult.

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THE LOVE MATCH tells the story of Zahra, a young Bangladeshi girl whose family has fallen on hard times since the death of her father. Zahra dreams of being a writer, but at the moment, her top priority is helping her family pay the bills. Her mother thinks that the best way to make sure both Zahra and the rest of the family are cared for is to find her a good match, so her mother sets her up with Harun, a young, rich boy about her age. But Harun and Zahra don't click, not like Zahra and Nayim, the mysterious orphaned dishwasher at the tea shop where Zahra works.

I loved the twists, but I also loved Zahra as a character. Her determination, her devotion to her family, and her conflict between wanting what's best for her family and what's best for herself were so relatable, and I was cheering for her the entire way through the book. I couldn't put this down!! I love that this has two POC Muslim love interests for a Muslim protagonist. The south Asian rep was heartwarming and I adored the cultural references. Honestly, this was so much fun to read and I loved the family drama in this!

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Thank you for #NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an unbiased review. Taslim paints a vivid portrait of Zahra's turmoil when it comes to her love life after graduating. There is constant conflict for Zahra making her family proud and following the rules of her culture and religion and breaking free of the restriction. The choices she makes and the rationale are very much of an 18 year old caught between two worlds and you feel for her on her journey.

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A little disappointing because I was expecting more from the Bangladeshi representation. While I am happy to see my culture being celebrated in these pages, I felt that the writing could have been stronger and made better use of the many deshi cliches thrown in here. Longer review to come soon.

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