Thursday, April 29, 2021

More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood - OPTIONAL

More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood
, 338 pages. Little, Brown and Company, 2020. $18 

Language: R (13 swears, 16 “f”) + foreign language swears; Mature Content: PG-13; Violence; G 



As a senior in high school and a Muslim, Danyal is just trying to get through the year, graduate, and keep his mother from marrying him off. He’s already been held back a year and does not want to attend a traditional college so he doesn’t understand why he should even care about school. Danyal spends his spare time dreaming of cooking school and working in a kitchen at a local French restaurant. His passion for cooking is seen by those around him except his parents, especially his dad, a strict Muslim. Each year Aligheri Prep school hosts the “Renaissance Man” competition, a school-wide academic competition. Danyal is unexpectedly chosen to participate in the competition as the History representative. He is determined to prove to everyone that he’s more than just a pretty face, especially to his long-time crush Kaval. Throughout the story Danyal’s mother is trying to set up rishta meetings, where he is introduced to a girl because the parents hope they would hit it off and decide to get married. He doesn’t really agree with an arranged marriage, but that’s what his parents want for him and that’s what his religion expects of him. As Danyal starts to do research for “Renaissance Man” he discovers more about his father’s passions, his disdain for Winston Churchill and the Bengal Famine. Danyal must navigate school, work, friends and even unanticipated feelings for a new girl who helps in ways he didn’t know were possible. 

Masood really does a great job weaving in genuine cultural insight of Muslim culture, religion and present-day culture. I was inspired to find out more about the Bengal Famine and what took place there. The story points out that you can be too drastic one way or the other and balancing life and being happy amid the terrible things that still happen in the world. The characters will make you laugh and cry. It is a fun, easy to read, young adult romantic comedy. 

Reviewer: Jenn J. 

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