Title: A Million Junes
Author: Emily Henry
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin Random House)
Emily Henry’s sophomore novel is a magical twist on Romeo and Juliet, about the weight of family legacies. I enjoyed her writing style in her debut novel The Love That Split the World (even if I didn’t love the problematic portrayal of First Nations peoples and cultures), and that remained true in this novel. Emily Henry’s writing is incredibly readable, but is still lush with sparks of magic and clear characterization. Her characters, especially June (“Jack”) and Saul, felt so believable, and their interactions were a joy to read.
The romance almost bordered on insta-love, with the added urgency of the family feud keeping them apart. While I enjoyed the scenes in which Jack and Saul saw moments from their respective relatives’ pasts, I didn’t love the magic system at play. Personally, I found the magic in A Million Junes to be very reminiscent of the magic in The Love That Split the World. It’s not exactly the same, but a very similar concept: traveling in time with a love interest to uncover some hidden truth. I found the story compelling and enjoyed the reading experience, but the magic being similarly really stuck out to me.
All that being said, I think Henry did a phenomenal job of capturing the weight of family that we all carry. Jack is grieving for her father, and defined by a feud and curse that has haunted her family and Saul’s for generations. There were moments when I was in tears from how perfectly Henry described grief, and Jack’s struggle with mourning the father she knew while learning the truth about him and her family. I truly loved the family story at the heart of this novel, and this is one of very few magical realism novels have really worked for me. I would highly recommend A Million Junes if you’re into magical realism and family legacies, even if you didn’t love Henry’s debut novel.
Rating: 4 stars
*I received an eARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review.
Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster)
When Dimple Met Rishi was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, so I fully expected to fall in love with this story. While I definitely enjoyed it, somehow this didn’t quite live up to my expectations. This book is billed as an arranged marriage YA, and it’s simultaneously so much more yet exactly that. Dimple and Rishi meet at a summer coding camp, but only Rishi knows that their parents are trying to arrange a marriage for them.
I think this book took a lot of directions that I wasn’t expecting, from Dimple finding out about the potential arrangement very early, to their relationship dynamics over the course of the novel. Despite a very rocky start, Dimple and Rishi manage to end up in a rather intense (dare I say almost insta-love?) relationship over the six week long camp. The pacing coupled with Rishi being almost too perfect, actually had me questioning whether I even shipped them. I’m not sure that I did, which sucks, because I was fully expecting to.
Dimple was probably my favorite aspect of this novel. She’s this fierce girl who wants a STEM career, and to be the best at what she does. Dimple is focused on her own future and her passion for coding, and resents that her parents expect her to fall in line and find an ideal Indian husband. Dimple and Rishi have very different perspectives on their families and culture, and I loved seeing that play out. I adored Dimple’s family, especially her relationship with her mother. This own voices book really explores the idea of being true to yourself in the face of others’ expectations, and it was ultimately a contemporary with a lot of heart.
Rating: 4 stars
* I received an eARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review.