From the author of Ayesha at Last comes a sparkling new rom-com for fans of “You’ve Got Mail,” set in two competing halal restaurants
Sales are slow at Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, the only halal restaurant in the close-knit Golden Crescent neighbourhood. Hana waitresses there part time, but what she really wants is to tell stories on the radio. If she can just outshine her fellow intern at the city radio station, she may have a chance at landing a job. In the meantime, Hana pours her thoughts and dreams into a podcast, where she forms a lively relationship with one of her listeners. But soon she’ll need all the support she can get: a new competing restaurant, a more upscale halal place, is about to open in the Golden Crescent, threatening Three Sisters.
When her mysterious aunt and her teenage cousin arrive from India for a surprise visit, they draw Hana into a long-buried family secret. A hate-motivated attack on their neighbourhood complicates the situation further, as does Hana’s growing attraction for Aydin, the young owner of the rival restaurant—who might not be a complete stranger after all.
As life on the Golden Crescent unravels, Hana must learn to use her voice, draw on the strength of her community and decide what her future should be.
Title: Hana Khan Carries On
Author: Uzma Jalaluddin
Publisher: HarperCollins Canada
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Retelling
Target Audience: Adult
Content Warnings: Racism, Islamophobia, Hate Crimes and Vandalism, Death, Funeral, Car Accident, Hospitalization
Uzma Jalaluddin’s sophomore novel is a truly spectacular read – full of heartache, hope, love, and pride. I’m truly grateful to have had the opportunity to read an advanced copy, big thanks to Netgalley and HarperCollins Canada. I love to read books by Canadian authors and it truly made me miss Toronto a little bit, I loved the nods to iconic landmarks like the CN Tower, the aquarium, the dreaded 401, and more.
Hana Khan Carries On follows Hana Khan the daughter of Indian immigrants who own Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, the only Halal restaurant in their Scarborough neighbourhood. Hana waitresses at Three Sisters part-time, but her real ambitions are to tell stories on the radio. She has an unpaid internship at Radio Toronto and she hosts an anonymous podcast: Ana’s Brown Girl Rambles, but she has dreams of hosting her own show.
Hana’s life is turned upside down when she learns that a new Halal restaurant is opening on the same street as Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, threatening to put the already struggling restaurant out of business. The owner is a stranger from Vancouver, Aydin, who drives Hana to do some things that she may regret, and she enlists the help of her most loyal podcast fan turned close friend, the equally anonymous StanleyP, to help her take Aydin down.
As someone who is about to turn 24, I truly resonated with Hana’s feelings of indecision about her future. It’s so hard to balance your hopes and dreams for yourself with the expectations of others and the opportunities available. Too often, younger folks compromise on their beliefs and take opportunities that don’t necessarily align with what they want, just because we feel that we aren’t in the place to argue or turn them down. It was empowering to see Hana realize that she was better than her unpaid internship and to take that leap of faith.
One of the strongest elements of Hana Khan Carries On is the sense of community that exists in the book. Golden Crescent feels alive and the dynamics of the neighbourhood feel so real. The cast of characters are all so wonderful and they each brought something special and unique to the story.
I love Hana’s cousin Rashid, who started off as a bit of a comic relief character, but slowly grew to show that he had a lot of wisdom to offer and that his positive outlook was not the product of naivety, but instead believing in the best in others. I also love Hana’s father, who encouraged and supported Hana’s dreams of someday telling stories on the radio, it was clear that Hana and her father had a really special connection.
Hana’s wild and wonderful Kawkab Khala was by and far my favourite, I loved how she encouraged Hana to assert herself and to be fierce. I also loved the tenderness of her farewell and how much Hana gave her back by telling her story on Secret Family History. I understood Hana’s interest in her family’s secrets and wanting to know more about them. For me, half of my family lives in England and I understand sometimes feeling like your family are strangers to you.
The romance element was fun and sweet, I’ve never actually seen You’ve Got Mail, but I know the basic plot and I might be inspired to check it out after reading Hana Khan Carries On, if the movie is even half as good I think I’ll enjoy it. I am a big sucker for enemies-to-lovers, and Jalaluddin executes the trope perfectly.
Hana Khan Carries On manages to be light and fun, while also tackling some really heavy topics. Jalaluddin examines what it means to belong in a place and the ownership one feels over their community and how a community can come together after terror strikes. At the heart of the book, it is about not simply accepting what you are given, but finding your voice and the courage to go after what you know you truly deserve.
After reading both Ayesha at Last and Hana Khan Carries On, I know I will be on the lookout for whatever Uzma Jalaluddin is coming out with next!
About the Author
Uzma Jalaluddin grew up in a diverse suburb of Toronto. Her favourite place in the world is the nearest bookstore or library, so it came as no surprise to anyone when she started writing her own stories, poems, plays and other creative writing from an early age. Her debut novel, AYESHA AT LAST (2018), is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in the Toronto Muslim community. The novel was a Goodreads Choice Award Finalist, was featured on The Today Show, and was a Cosmopolitan UK Book of the Year. AYESHA AT LAST has been optioned for film by Pascal Pictures. Her second novel, HANA KHAN CARRIES ON, will be published in April 2021. She writes a culture and parenting column for The Toronto Star, and has written for The Atlantic. Uzma lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and two sons, where she also teaches high school. She is probably dreaming up ideas for her next book right about now.