ARC Review: RADHA & JAI’S RECIPE FOR ROMANCE by Nisha Sharma

Rating: ★★★★☆

Summary: To All the Boys I Loved Before meets World of Dance in this delectable love story that combines food, dance, and a hint of drama to cook up the perfect romance.

Radha is on the verge of becoming one of the greatest Kathak dancers in the world . . . until a family betrayal costs her the biggest competition of her life. Now, she has left her Chicago home behind to follow her stage mom to New Jersey. At the Princeton Academy of the Arts, Radha is determined to leave performing in her past, and reinvent herself from scratch.

Jai is captain of the Bollywood Beats dance team, ranked first in his class, and an overachiever with no college plans. Tight family funds means medical school is a pipe dream, which is why he wants to make the most out of high school. When Radha enters his life, he realizes she’s the exact ingredient he needs for a show-stopping senior year.

With careful choreography, both Radha and Jai will need to face their fears (and their families) if they want a taste of a happily ever after.

Ah yes, this is the kind of book that makes you feel represented and you thoroughly enjoy reading.

Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance is a cute and fun YA contemporary about two teens connecting with their passion with a sprinkle of delicious recipes, family relationships, entertaining dance sequences and a totally filmy romance! Not going to lie, the overall vibe of the story and some scenes were SO Bollywood style so if like me, you’re missing the joy that Bollywood movies gave this is the perfect book to read.

This book is delightfully desi. As an Indian, the cultural aspects were so familiar to read about, like an event that happens in my daily life but in writing. My mouth watered at the various, delicious recipes of Indian delicacies included and the descriptions of all the food. There were so many scenes that could easily pass off as a scene straight from a Bollywood movie! The familiarity gave me so much joy while reading it.

❛Who would’ve thought that working with food, even a failed recipe as simple as melting butter, could be just as rewarding as a four hour kathak class?

Both Radha & Jai are characters with cracks and realistic life problems which makes you root for them as the figure out their problems. I loved to see them face their problems, support each other and end up falling for each other. I admit their relationship falls under the insta love trope but as they get to know each other it gets so much cuter! (also come on, how many of us have seen and enjoyed the insta love trope in bollywood movies?)

One of the themes that I really connected with was the anxiety rep. As a dancer myself, I understood Radha’s struggle so well. The performance anxiety and pressure from her mother were genuine to read about. Radha’s character is all about dealing with her panic and anxiety by finding new passions that calm her and slowly coming to terms with her issues. I really appreciate Nisha Sharma for acknowledging seeking therapy for panic attacks and healing. Family problems and mental health are not topics commonly discussed in South-Asian communities so it was refreshing to see this book normalise it!

My only quip with the book is that it felt disconnected at some points because of the scene jumps which obstructed the flow of the story. But overall, I really enjoyed reading it. If you’re looking for a feel good book about teens deciding the path they follow in the future mixed with romance and dances, look no further!

Thank you Netgalley and Random House Children’s for the ARC!

Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance releases July 13th 2021

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Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  IndieBound | Underlined |Bookshop

CW: anxiety, on-page panic attacks, stroke, emotional manipulation/abuse, hospital scenes, miscommunication, bullying, mentions of infidelity

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