The offering of young adult novels that deal with queer themes has never been as big as it is now. Gone are the days of teens scouring the library for something they can actually relate to (do teens even frequent the library at all, though?).
If you know a teenager only recently coming to terms with a queer identity, the recently released book, The Love and Lies of Rukshana Ali might just be the read they’re looking for.
The title of the novel already suggests the central topic of conflict in the book. Rukshana Ali mostly abides by the rule of her parents, but as an American teenager of Bengali-Muslim parents, she is constantly tiptoeing between two worlds. She secretly applies for a degree in engineering at Caltech, but when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, Rukshana’s plans of escaping are thoroughly derailed, as her parents send her to Bangladesh to be immersed in a world filled to the brim with tradition.
Author Sabina Khan says that her own daughters’ struggle to find stories that they could relate to as the children of immigrants who had been raised in North America was a seminal part in her decision to write The Love and Lies of Rukshana Ali. Speaking to Pop Goes the Reader, Ali says that the value that books aimed at them can provide to teens means the world to her.
“Reading these stories by authors like Sandhya Menon, Samira Ahmed, Nisha Sharma and Gloria Chao brings back vivid memories of the angst and the excitement I felt when I was younger. It invigorates me to know that things are finally changing and that even though there is still a long way to go, at least young readers today from all backgrounds have characters to admire who look like them and live similar experiences.”
The Love and Lies of Rukshana Ali is available from Amazon, and it is also the book we will be discussing in Book Club Tuesday on 5 February. Listen to GaySA Radio’s Rainbow talk between 12:00 and 15:00 CAT to learn more about this important book.