Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.
Book: Sway With Me
Author: Syed M. Masood
Book Series: Standalone
Diversity: Desi Anxiety rep MC who lives with great grandpa and is previously homeschooled. Blended family is shown in a main side character. Most of the main characters in the book are Desi.
Recommended For…: young adult readers, romance, contemporary, dance, alternative and blended family
Publication Date: November 9, 2021
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Recommended Age: 15+ (Sexual innuendos, Language, Arranged marriage, Sexual content, Child abuse, Religion, Religious abuse)
Explanation of CWs: There are sexual innuendos throughout the book. There is some cursing in the book. Arranged marriage is discussed and is a preferred choice by the MC. Slight sexual content is mentioned in the book. Child abuse is discussed and mentioned. A variety of different religions including Muslim, Christianity, etc. is mentioned several times. There is also allusions to religious abuse.
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: Arsalan has learned everything he knows from Nana, his 100-year-old great-grandfather. This includes the fact that when Nana dies, Arsalan will be completely alone in the world, except for his estranged and abusive father. So he turns to Beenish, the step-daughter of a prominent matchmaker, to find him a future life partner. Beenish’s request in return? That Arsalan help her ruin her older sister’s wedding with a spectacular dance she’s been forbidden to perform.
Despite knowing as little about dancing as he does about girls, Arsalan wades into Beenish’s chaotic world to discover friends and family he never expected. And though Arsalan’s old-school manners and Beenish’s take-no-prisoners attitude clash every minute, they find themselves getting closer and closer—literally. All that’s left to realize is that the thing they both really want is each other, if only they can get in step.
Review: For the most part I liked the book. I thought it was an okay read, the characters were well developed and I really liked Beans. I thought the world building was well done as well and the pacing was on point. I also liked the storyline and I really felt for our MC.
However, there were some issues I had with the book. The book contains a lot of literature references, a ton of them to older books, and a lot of them went over my head and I would assume some of them would go over a lot of younger readers’ heads as well. However, there was a very awkward self insert of the author’s first book and how much a main side character liked it and it really put me off of this book at that point considering I had some issues with that other book as well. The MC, however much I liked him, felt really stiff and I don’t see him as one that is really likeable until about the last 1/3 of the book. Finally, but most important, I also saw that there was a lot of shame and hostility towards the Muslim religion. There was some towards Christianity, but I noticed it a lot more towards Muslim. It read like there was some shame in the Muslim religion and, when I read some of the ownvoice reviewers on Goodreads, they had similar sentiments and it’s a huge concern of theirs regarding this book. I’m not advocating that this book is necessarily bad, but I do think that ownvoice reviewers should be heard on this issue especially considering this book is marketed towards them.
Verdict: It was ok.