The Next Chapter

Aparita Bhandari recommends books that explore the diversity of love and romance

The columnist looks at romance books by diverse authors, including Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali and The Matchmaker's List by Sonya Lalli.
Aparita Bhandari is a columnist for The Next Chapter. (Submitted by Aparita Bhandari)

The Next Chapter columnist Aparita Bhandari immigrated to Canada from India more than two decades ago. She says she grew up on Bollywood movies — and that romance acts like the soundtrack to her life.

She spoke with Shelagh Rogers about books on love and romance by diverse authors.

Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali

Love from A to Z is a YA novel by S.K. Ali. (Andrea Stenson, Simon & Schuster)

"This book is lovely. S.K. Ali's previous book, Saints and Misfits, featured a young Muslim woman in high school who wears the hijab. 

They have a meet-cute and various trials and tribulations. Eventually, they resolve their feelings for each other

"Similarly in this book, you have a young woman who is the protagonist, Zainab, and she's again a hijab wearing woman. Zainab meets Adam Chen on an airplane flight.

"He also happens to be Muslim and it's their story. Adam is Asian — his father is Chinese background and his mother is Finnish. There is a Canadian connection as well.

"They have a meet-cute and various trials and tribulations. Eventually they resolve their feelings for each other." 

The Matchmaker's List by Sonya Lalli

The Matchmaker's List is a novel by Sonya Lalli. (Penguin Random House Canada, Ning Joanis)

"This book was interesting to me. The main character, Raina, has been looking for love, but not been very successful at it — or basically has been looking for love in the wrong place with this guy, Dev."

"Her grandmother decides that she is going to set her up on a whole bunch of these arranged marriage style kinds of matches or dates. And who Raina does find at the end of it all is the gist of this story. It was fun to read about the concept of arranged marriage through a young person's perspective.

"What I loved about The Matchmaker's List  and Love from A to Z  is that they bring these diverse characters — and clearly there's a market for them. So whether the industry is going toward that, I don't know. 

"I think we do need more editors, more support for these good authors like Ali and Lalli. I hope [more diverse authors] get the kind of support and critical feedback they need so that their own craft becomes even better."

Aparita Bhandari's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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