With a welcome mix of humor, heart, and high-stakes drama, Sabina Khan provides a timely and honest portrait of what it's like to grow up feeling unwelcome in your own culture.
Fight for love. Fight for family. Fight for yourself.
Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali has always been fascinated by the universe around her and the laws of physics that keep everything in order. But her life at home isn't so absolute.
Unable to come out to her conservative Muslim parents, she keeps that part of her identity hidden. And that means keeping her girlfriend, Ariana, a secret from them too. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life at home and a fresh start at Caltech in the fall. But when Rukhsana's mom catches her and Ariana together, her future begins to collapse around her.
Devastated and confused, Rukhsana's parents whisk her off to stay with their extended family in Bangladesh where, along with the loving arms of her grandmother and cousins, she is met with a world of arranged marriages, religious tradition, and intolerance. Fortunately, Rukhsana finds allies along the way and, through reading her grandmother's old diary, finds the courage to take control of her future and fight for her love.
A gritty novel that doesn't shy away from the darkest corners of ourselves, The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali provides a timely and achingly honest portrait of what it's like to grow up feeling unwelcome in your own culture and proves that love, above all else, has the power to change the world.
Featured on: Bustle, Seventeen.com, Hypable, Oprah Magazine, NBC News, the BBC, Parade, BookRiot, and Paste Magazine
"An intersectional, diverse coming of age story that will break your heart in the best way." -- Bustle.com
"A much-needed addition to any YA shelf." -- Sandhya Menon, New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi
"Heart-wrenching yet hopeful" -- Samira Ahmed, New York Times bestselling author of Love, Hate and Other Filters
"A story that will stay with you for years to come." -- Sara Farizan, Lambda Award-winning author of If You Could Be Mine
About the Author
Sabina Khan writes about Muslim teens who straddle cultures. She was born in Germany, spent her teens in Bangladesh, and lived in Macao, Illinois, and Texas before settling down in British Columbia with her husband, two daughters, and the best puppy in the world. Visit her online at sabina-khan.com.
Read an Excerpt
No parties, no shorts, no boys. These were my parents' three cardinal rules. But what they didn't know couldn't hurt them, right? I quickly changed out of my NASA pajamas and into my favorite black crop top and dark-blue vintage jeans, liking the way they accentuated my curves. According to Mom no one needed to know that I had boobs, much less a belly button, except for me, Allah, and my future husband. Of course, the whole "no boys" rule was a moot point in my case, but fortunately my parents didn't know about Ariana.
"Rukhsana, Mom's never going to let you out of the house wearing that."
Startled, I spun around to see my brother, Aamir, leaning lazily against my door frame.
"Knock much?" I said, quickly pausing the music playing on my phone.
"I did. It's not my fault you couldn't hear me over that screeching you call music." Aamir smiled as he sauntered into the room and plopped down on my bed.
Of course, my brother was right. I would never be allowed to go out wearing this. Which was why I was planning to throw on my oversized school hoodie to once again become the shapeless blob my parents preferred to think of me as.
"Aamir, you know this isn't my first rodeo." I ruffled his hair affectionately. "Plus, you always have my back, right?"
"Yeah, yeah, don't worry, I'll cover for you," Aamir said, pushing away my hand. He was very particular about his hair. "But it's going to cost you," he added with a grin.
"What do you want this time?" I pulled the bulky hoodie over my head.
"Something good. I haven't thought about it yet." He surveyed my outfit. "Ariana's going to run away when she sees you, but at least Mom will be happy."
I punched him playfully in the arm before going downstairs. The smell of chai led me into the kitchen, where I found the pot bubbling on the stovetop. I inhaled its spicy aroma deeply, allowing the cinnamon and cardamom to soothe my nerves. It was almost five o'clock, time to head over to Jen's house to finish getting ready for the party. But first I had to convince Mom to let me go.