(NO SPOILERS!) When it comes to books, there are two types of people: the ones who despise reading versus the ones who live in the world of stories. Whether you love reading or hate it (or even if you’re in a reading slump like me!), ‘The Trouble with Hating You’ by Sajni Patel is definitely a book full of humour and contemporary romance that anyone would love, otherwise it wouldn’t be trending on #desibooktok!
First of all the South Asian representation in this book makes me beyond happy; as a South Asian growing up in a western country myself, it’s hard to find accurate representations of our culture in the media, especially when it branches into thousands of different subcultures from all the countries in South Asia. This story in particular follows the characters of Liya Thakkar and Jay Shah, two Gujarati Americans living in Houston, Texas. Sajni steeps her romantic comedy with beautiful Indian traditions, as well as using the opinionated and confident Liya as her mouthpiece to speak up against the old-fashioned social stigmas that still stand in Indian society today (thanks to “draconian aunties” and judgemental uncles). There is no doubt that she is encouraging the readers of her book to support and listen to South Asians.
The book also offers a great storyline, following Liya and Jay’s hate-to-love story as they try to convince themselves they are “so not in love”, despite their ridiculous arguments and “witty office banter”. Liya, a biochemical engineer, is a stubborn but resilient woman who has absolutely no interest in marriage. Jay, a lawyer, is charming and handsome who wants to give his all to Liya- but why does she not believe him? What secrets of the painful past are they both hiding? Will these secrets drive them apart or bring them closer? Will Liya give Jay a chance? So many questions!
Overall, I would give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars, simply because of how loving the two were towards each other at the end, not to mention their close, loving relationships with friends and family. One thing I didn’t like, however, was how infuriating it was to see some of the characters be so disapproving of opinionated and expressive women, but this is a reflection of cultural flaws. Moreover, I hated the fact that Liya would constantly misjudge Jay for a typical player who “just wants sex”. What made it even more annoying was how Jay would continue to chase after her even after her hostility and coldness towards him, making him seem like an idiot. Although it was a cute love story, Liya’s rudeness towards someone she barely knows and Jay’s obsession with getting her to like him just didn’t sit right with me. Other than that, it was a good, standard romance!
(If you want to read this book, I advise readers to check trigger warnings, as there are some (non-graphic) references to sexual assault and death.)