Radha & Jai's Recipe for Romance

Radha & Jai's Recipe for Romance
Author(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
July 13, 2021
ISBN
978-0553523294
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To All the Boys I Loved Before meets World of Dance in this delectable love story that combines food, dance, and a hint of drama to cook up the perfect romance.

Radha is on the verge of becoming one of the greatest kathak dancers in the world . . . until a family betrayal costs her the biggest competition of her life. Now she has left her Chicago home behind to follow her stage mom to New Jersey. At the Princeton Academy of the Arts, Radha is determined to leave performing in her past and reinvent herself from scratch.

Jai is captain of the Bollywood Beats dance team, ranked first in his class, and is an overachiever with no college plans. Tight family funds means medical school is a pipe dream, which is why he wants to make the most out of high school. When Radha enters his life, he realizes she's the exact ingredient he needs for a show-stopping senior year.

With careful choreography, both Radha and Jai will need to face their fears (and their families) if they want a taste of a happily ever after.

Editor review

1 review
delightful read about family, romance, and dancing
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
RADHA AND JAI'S RECIPE FOR ROMANCE is a sweet YA contemporary with plenty of dance and romance. Radha was close to winning a prestigious kathak dancing competition when she overheard her competitors talking about her and saying that she was only winning because her mother was sleeping with a judge. As Radha's brain quickly processes this information, she leaves the competition and feels completely betrayed. After the competition, her anxiety skyrockets and Radha abandons the dancing that she loves. Her mother has subsequently moved her to New Jersey with a new proposal to get her back into dance.

Jai is devoted to his family. Since his father's stroke, he has watched his brothers take over the family business and give up their dreams to save the family from financial ruin. Although they have recovered, Jai has taken these messages to heart. Although he dreams of being a doctor, he has no plans to go to college because his family comes first. He is the captain of Bollywood Beats, a dance team that dreams of winning regionals - something that is becoming impossible with their choreographer gone and team one dancer short. When Jai meets Radha, he knows she is what the team needs - but she is only dancing when she has to and tough to convince.

What I loved: Radha and Jai both have compelling character arcs as they overcome their personal barriers and find their paths. While their obstacles are different, they each provide key support and aid in the other becoming their best self. Their romance was particularly strong, driven by these key conversations and others. The build was charming, and it was impossible not to cheer for them together.

Aside from dance, Radha is also trying to learn new things about herself and find new passions with all the time she has now that she no longer does competitions. She connects with her father and her culture through cooking, something at which she is a complete novice. Each chapter begins with one of the recipes, originally from her Dada and through which she learns to cook, something she becomes passionate about. Her experiences with cooking reflect her reintroduction to dancing, working with the team, and her life more broadly.

Jai's journey is also really emotional as he grapples with his feelings towards his family and his dreams, which he feels conflict. Ever since his father and Nana Veeru had their strokes, his reality has changed, and he has tried to find a way to show how much he cares and do the best he can for them and his family. Both Jai and Radha are stubborn, but are luckily surrounded by people who love them and help them to grow during these months.

The book includes many thought-provoking themes around competition, what it means to love something, family, friendship, teamwork, mental health (particularly anxiety), heritage/connecting with your culture, standing up for yourself, and following your dreams. The themes around mental health were handled really well, and I appreciated the allusions to therapy and understanding around such that are really important to see. Family is not always perfect, but as these two find their way amidst the obligations and expectations, they take steps towards independence that YA readers of the same age will recognize, setting boundaries and not shying away from critical conversations.

Final verdict: A compelling YA contemporary full of romance, dance, and food, RADHA AND JAI'S RECIPE FOR ROMANCE is a delightful read that will resonate with YA readers. Recommend for fans of INSTRUCTIONS FOR DANCING, SISTER OF THE BOLLYWOOD BRIDE, and SWAY WITH ME.
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