ARC review, book review, young adult

96 Words for Love by Rachel Roy & Ava Dash (ARC Review)

Title: 96 Words for Love
Authors: Rachel Roy and Ava Dash
Type: Fiction
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Retelling, Romance
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson (Hachette Book Group)
Date published: January 15, 2019

A physical copy of this book was kindly provided by Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

A modern retelling of a classic Indian legend, 96 Words for Loveis a coming-of-age story.

Ever since her acceptance to UCLA, 17-year-old Raya Liston has been quietly freaking out. She feels simultaneously lost and trapped by a future already mapped out for her.

Then her beloved grandmother dies, and Raya jumps at the chance to spend her last free summer at the ashram in India where her grandmother met and fell in love with her grandfather. Raya hopes to find her center and her true path. But she didn’t expect to fall in love… with a country of beautiful contradictions, her fiercely loyal cousin, a local girl with a passion for reading, and a boy who teaches her that in Sanskrit, there are 96 different ways to say the word “love.”

A modern retelling of the classic Indian legend of Shakuntala and Dushyanta.

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I was very excited to read this book! A lot of YA seems to be featuring less and less romance, and my poor romantic heart needs romance to live, haha. So, when I heard that 96 Words for Love would be a modern retelling of a classic legend from India (with lots of romance), I knew that I absolutely had to read it. When I found out that the main character would also be travelling to India, I was all the more excited! Once I was reading, I found that the travel portion did not disappoint! I would have liked a little more description, but reading about Raya’s journey to an old ashram in India was great! I almost felt as if I was travelling with Raya and her super-lovable cousin. Which brings me to how I felt about the characters. As I was reading, I was finding as if I wasn’t really connecting with Raya. (I actually felt that I liked her cousin a lot more, and wish that this had been her story instead. I feel awful for saying it, but Raya seemed a little self-centered, whereas her cousin felt more genuine and sweet.)

I’m not sure if this is because of how the story was narrated (aka Raya’s voice, because she’s the narrator) or because of the pacing. I wish that the story had been paced a little differently since it’s a little slow in the beginning before accelerating considerably for the last bit of the book. (That’s the only way I can formulate that without spoiling things, haha.) I also felt a little odd about the book once I found out that Ava Dash is actually the model used on the cover, and that Raya might actually represent Ava. Things got a little confusing in my brain. Overall, I did find that this was an enjoyable read and that it was also quite different from some of the other YA that I’ve read mainly because of the romance and the setting (because I’ve been trying to read more contemporary YA set outside of the U.S.A., North America, and the Western world in general).

Rachel Roy is the daughter of an Indian immigrant father and Dutch mother. She is mother to Tallulah and Ava. Rachel is the founder & creative director of her eponymous brand and a tireless activist for using your voice to cultivate change in the world and to design the life you wish to live. Rachel founded Kindness Is Always Fashionable, an entrepreneurial philanthropic platform to help women artisans around the world create sustainable income for their families and communities. In 2018 Rachel was named a United Nations Women Champion for Innovation, and works for the UN advocating gender equality and other critical women’s issues. In 2015, Rachel published, Design Your Life.

Ava Dash is an American philanthropist and author. Her father, Damon Dash, is an actor, music producer, and entrepreneur. Her mother, Rachel Roy, is a fashion designer. Ava was a teenager when she began working as a philanthropist. Inspired by her trips since her childhood, Ava decided to join ‘The Teen Project,’ a charity for children and women. She has collaborated with many lifestyle brands to offer furnished and decorated foster homes to underprivileged women. Ava has also worked with the charitable venture ‘Covenant House.’ She has mentored at ‘Step Up.’ Currently pursuing college in Los Angeles, Ava has co-authored a book with her mother. She has also been featured on the cover of the book



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