When I saw that the author of Ayesha at Last was releasing another book I just had to get it. Hana Khan Carries on is so much more than a romance, it has fascinating family dynamics, addresses the Islamophobia many Muslims face and has a protagonist with strong values even if it means sacrificing her dream. This book has much going on, it’s amazing Uzma Jalaluddin fit it all in – but it never feels too crowded.
Star rating: 4 stars
Hana Khan is a 24-year old intern at Radio Toronto. When she’s not at the radio station she’s working on her anonymous podcast or helping out at her mother’s restaurant, Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, named proudly by Hana when she was a child. The restaurant is already struggling financially when a shiny competitor opens a new halal restaurant nearby and threatens to hit the final nail in the coffin. Hana is determined not the let the owner, Aydin, finish off her family’s livelihood, but with a growing attraction to him, what will she do?
I can start by saying that I absolutely loved Hana Khan as a character. She has such strong values, cares so much for her family and her anonymous podcasts were filled with so much emotion. She was juggling so much – her family’s financial struggles, her unpaid internship where she was being forced to compromise her values, putting time into her own podcast, visits from family members from India and the new guy Aydin who keeps getting under her skin. I honestly don’t know how she didn’t explode at some point during the book.
One of my favourite relationships in the book was between Hana and her Dad who had been in an accident. They are both big fans of radio and it was really heart-warming to see him support Hana’s dreams. It was also really emotional to read about Hana learning to stop sheltering him from the hurt that was caused to the family.
Racism is very prominent throughout the book. Hana is verbally abused by far right extremists, and the far right extremists also target all of the businesses on Golden Crescent. Some of the crimes featured in the book are absolutely awful and it was really upsetting, especially because these attacks happen to Muslims every day.
To be honest, the only thing that didn’t really capture my attention was the romance. Aydin wasn’t particularly interesting and I found that he didn’t really redeem himself for not standing up to his Dad sooner. Some parts were definitely better than others though, and I thought it was cute when Hana and Aydin started working together to help their community.
Overall this was a great book – it has a fantastic protagonist and a whole lot of interesting side characters which makes for interesting relationships and dynamics. It really doesn’t hold back from exploring the racism Muslims face, even in countries the world seems to idolise as progressive like Canada. I will definitely be reading Uzma Jalaluddin’s next book!