Twenty-something Hana Khan is juggling multiple responsibilities including her radio station internship, her podcast, and her job at her mother’s halal restaurant in the tight-knit Toronto community of Golden Crescent. Despite the workload, she’s got a handle on her present and clear goals for her future—a future that involves telling stories. That is, of course, until some unexpected characters come to town. Her mischievous cousin and mysterious Aunt arrive–rather surprisingly–from India for an extended stay. And at the same time a rich businessman and his son show up from Vancouver with the intention of gentrifying their neighborhood and, in the process, putting her mom and the other locally-owned shops out of business.
Hana Khan Carries On is more than a simple contemporary romance. It’s a story about family, about the complexities of emigration, it’s about women and agency, racism, and, ultimately, this is a story about stories. Multiple plot threads twist and turn their way through the novel, but author Uzma Jalaluddin keeps control and keeps the reader engaged with a cast of unique and well-drawn characters that are easy to care about. Lots of strong, interesting women each with her own story to tell, plus a main character and love interest that are easy to root for. In the telling, the story maintains a mostly lighthearted tone despite the darker themes of racism and family toxicity.
This is a fun read with wide appeal, especially for those who like heartwarming stories, stories centered around restaurants, food, and families, or enemies-to-lovers romances featuring lively, nuanced characters.