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Disclaimer: I received this e-arc and finished copy from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.
Book: Beauty and the Besharam
Author: Lillie Vale
Book Series: Standalone
Diversity: While some of the characters have stated sexuality in the book, some of it is not mentioned. This is the rep that the author specifies is in the book: Bisexual Demiromantic Indian American character, Black Sanegalese lesbian character, Sapphic character, Indian American character, Mexican American trans gay character, Lebanese American character, Korean American character, Bisexual Indian American MC, Korean American anxiety disorder LI
Recommended For…: young adult readers, contemporary, romance, retellings, Beauty and the Beast, LGBT
Publication Date: May 24, 2022
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Age Relevance: 14+ (language, underage alcohol consumption, cheating, sexism, sexual content, panic attack, anxiety, romance, death, grief)
Explanation of Above: There is a couple of curse words sprinkled throughout the book, but nothing a child won’t hear at school. There is underage alcohol consumption mentioned as well as sexual content mentioned. Cheating is slightly shown, but it’s more of caught in the aftermath so it’s not explicative. There is one panic attack scene shown and anxiety is mentioned in the book. Death is also mentioned and there is grieving shown in the book. There is also a fair bit of kissing scenes, but nothing beyond intense kisses and hand holding.
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old, high-achieving Kavya Joshi has always been told she’s a little too ambitious, a little too mouthy, and overall just a little too much. In one word: besharam.
So, when her nemesis, Ian Jun, witnesses Kavya’s very public breakup with her loser boyfriend on the last day of junior year, she decides to lay low and spend the summer doing what she loves best–working part time playing princess roles for childrens’ birthday parties. But her plan is shot when she’s cast as Ariel instead of her beloved Belle, and learns that Ian will be her Prince Eric for the summer. [Cue the combative banter.]
Exhausted by Kavya and Ian’s years-long feud, their friends hatch a plan to end their rivalry by convincing them to participate in a series of challenges throughout the summer. Kavya is only too eager to finally be declared the winner. But as the competition heats up, so too does the romantic tension, until it escalates from a simmer to a full-on burn.
Review: I really liked this book overall! It’s a very loose Beauty and the Beast retelling, but with our MC being the “beastie” character. The book has some great pop culture moments, including their love for Sailor Moon and mentions of Percy Jackson. Props to the author for not mentioning books that shouldn’t be mentioned, especially in a book that’s very LGBT+ friendly with a trans character in it. The book has a grumpy (she)/sunshine (him) romance and I love all the little mentions about bookstagram and bookstagramming and ARCs. The book reads very much like your typical YA Contemporary Books, but I feel like the charm of this read is that the book is so much more than just a romance. The main point of the book is that the MC has a drive for competition, but being too competitive leads to a lot of her issues at home and with her friends. Seeing the character realize and rectify that was really well done. The character development was great. The world building was good. And I honestly read this in almost one sitting because it was just that captivating of a read.
The only issue I had with the book is that I think the sexualities of the characters could have been better stated. Some of it was great and well done, but others I only found out about from the author’s note on Goodreads. I would have liked to see that incorporated a bit more, but overall I thought it was an awesomely well done and inclusive book.
Verdict: I love it! Highly recommend!