More than just a pretty face

Syed Masood

Book - 2020

"When self-proclaimed 'not very bright' nineteen-year-old Danyal Jilani is chosen for a prestigious academic contest, he hopes to impress a potential arranged marriage match, only to begin falling for the girl helping him study instead"--

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YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Masood Syed
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Subjects
Genres
Romance fiction
Young adult fiction
Published
New York : Little, Brown and Company 2020.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
343 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780316492355
0316492353
Main Author
Syed Masood (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

There isn't much Danyal Jilani wants. He's gorgeous, hilarious, likable, and cooks like a beast. If only he could make the sexy Kaval Sabsvari his, everything would be peachy. Sadly, it's no secret Danyal isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, his classmates and dad remind him of that often enough. So when he's selected to participate in a reputable academic competition, winning could convince Kaval's parents he's worthy of her hand. When he asks his former marriage prospect Bisma for help, he realizes his dream girl might be closer than he thinks. Masood's debut is seriously funny, with all of the trappings of a truly good rom-com. Danyal's voice is the star in this dialogue-heavy novel, which helps keep up the smooth pace. The less-traditional Muslim characters might be a point of consternation for some (especially as depicted through the stereotyping of Sohrab's character as he becomes more involved in Islam); nonetheless, Danyal's seismic character arc, Bisma and his and evolving love, and fascinating historical insights make for an entertaining read. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Masood's debut spotlights the ever-optimistic 19-year-old Danyal Jilani, a confident Pakistani American aspiring chef who has long harbored a crush on classmate Kaval Sabsvari, his best friend Sohrab's twin sister. When he is nominated for his school's Renaissance Man competition, a cutthroat academic championship with a $5,000 prize, Danyal seizes the opportunity to boost his subpar grades and spend more time with Kaval, who offers to help. Danyal's topic of Winston Churchill leads him to enlist the assistance of Bisma Akram, 19, originally introduced to him as a potential prospect for an arranged marriage. Her complicated relationship with her own family forges a growing bond between them; Danyal's realization that Kaval disdains his atypical career aspirations, while Bisma supports them, strengthens their connection. The novel features a humorous exploration of its characters' desi backgrounds, touching upon familial and religious expectations. Though supporting characters lack nuance—Sohrab's growing devotion to Islam, for example, correlates with an increasingly limited viewpoint—Danyal develops into a more mature and endearing protagonist as he researches colonialism's horrors. Throughout, his vivid narration remains charmingly relatable. Ages 14–up. Agent: Melissa Edwards, Stonesong. (Aug.)¦ Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 9 Up—Danyal Jilani gets by in high school by putting in as little effort as possible, and he dreams of a future where he can pursue his true passions. In his case, this means culinary arts and wooing the most beautiful (and unattainable) girl in school. His carefree world comes to an abrupt halt when Danyal is forced to participate in an exclusive school-wide academic competition. Concurrently, he is also introduced to Bisma, an intriguing bridal candidate with a deeply painful past. Although there are some clunky moments of dialogue in this debut novel, Masood finds his groove in this high-stakes coming-of-age story. He places Danyal at an intersection between South Asia and America, and it is a pleasure to watch Danyal's growth and development as he grapples with both historical prejudices against India and contemporary prejudices within his own community. This is also one of the first YA novels that prominently features the atrocities of the 1943 Bengal Famine. It is refreshing to read an #OwnVoices novel that portrays Islam as it is for many Muslim American teenagers: a belief and culture that can be beautiful, complex, occasionally long-winded, and often sagacious. VERDICT This delightful debut will make a fine addition to any YA collection, and includes a much-needed historical and contemporary perspective of Western culture through a South Asian lens.—Maria Paz Alegre, Allen-Stevenson Sch., New York Copyright 2020 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"When self-proclaimed 'not very bright' nineteen-year-old Danyal Jilani is chosen for a prestigious academic contest, he hopes to impress a potential arranged marriage match, only to begin falling for the girl helping him study instead"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Enduring family disapproval and the possible cancellation of his arranged marriage because of his ambition to become a chef, Danyal Jilani competes in a school-wide academic championship, where his efforts to prove his intelligence are complicated by his crush on a teammate who loves his cooking. 30,000 first printing. Simultaneous eBook.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

This sweetly funny coming-of-age story about falling in love, family expectations, and being a Renaissance Man is perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Jenny Han.  Danyal Jilani doesn't lack confidence. He may not be the smartest guy in the room, but he's funny, gorgeous, and going to make a great chef one day. His father doesn't approve of his career choice, but that hardly matters. What does matter is the opinion of Danyal's longtime crush, the perfect-in-all-ways Kaval, and her family, who consider him a less than ideal arranged marriage prospect.When Danyal gets selected for Renaissance Man, a school-wide academic championship, it's the perfect opportunity to show everyone he's smarter than they think. He recruits the brilliant, totally-uninterested-in-him Bisma to help with the competition, but the more time Danyal spends with her...the more he learns from her...the more he cooks for her...the more he realizes that happiness may be staring him right in his pretty face.  In this young adult debut full of depth and heart, author Syed M. Masood will have readers laughing, sighing, tearing up, and shouting "YES!" at the top of their lungs.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Jenny Han, enjoy this sweetly funny coming-of-age story about falling in love, family expectations, and being a Renaissance Man.  Danyal Jilani doesn't lack confidence. He may not be the smartest guy in the room, but he's funny, gorgeous, and going to make a great chef one day. His father doesn't approve of his career choice, but that hardly matters. What does matter is the opinion of Danyal's longtime crush, the perfect-in-all-ways Kaval, and her family, who consider him a less than ideal arranged marriage prospect.When Danyal gets selected for Renaissance Man, a school-wide academic championship, it's the perfect opportunity to show everyone he's smarter than they think. He recruits the brilliant, totally-uninterested-in-him Bisma to help with the competition, but the more time Danyal spends with her...the more he learns from her...the more he cooks for her...the more he realizes that happiness may be staring him right in his pretty face.  In this young adult debut full of depth and heart, author Syed M. Masood will have readers laughing, sighing, tearing up, and shouting "YES!" at the top of their lungs.