Sway With Me

Sway With Me
Age Range
Release Date
November 02, 2021
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Arsalan has learned everything he knows from Nana, his 100-year-old great-grandfather. This includes the fact that when Nana dies, Arsalan will be completely alone in the world, except for his estranged and abusive father. So he turns to Beenish, the step-daughter of a prominent matchmaker, to find him a future life partner. Beenish’s request in return? That Arsalan help her ruin her older sister’s wedding with a spectacular dance she’s been forbidden to perform.

Despite knowing as little about dancing as he does about girls, Arsalan wades into Beenish’s chaotic world to discover friends and family he never expected. And though Arsalan’s old-school manners and Beenish’s take-no-prisoners attitude clash every minute, they find themselves getting closer and closer—literally. All that’s left to realize is that the thing they both really want is each other, if only they can get in step.

Editor review

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Sway With Me
Overall rating
Writing Style
SWAY WITH ME by Syed M. Masood is a YA contemporary novel about Arsalan, a studious teenager being raised by his great-grandfather. Arsalan doesn’t have much time for friends, especially with his grandfather’s rigorous reading requirements, but then Beenish storms through Arsalan’s life and convinces him to join a dance contest with her. The only problem is Arsalan isn’t much of a dancer, and Beenish has her work cut out for her. She also isn’t being entirely truthful about her intentions.

This book is a breath of fresh air. Thanks to Arsalan’s great-grandfather who is staunchly against technology, Arsalan doesn’t have a cell phone, nor does he understand most pop culture references. That means, in many ways, Arsalan is a character of old, and the author didn’t have to navigate text messaging, social media, and other realities of modern teenagers.

That being said, Arsalan is still an entirely relatable character. He’s been through a lot— he lost his mother, his father is an abusive alcoholic, and the responsibility for taking care of his grandfather is on him, including cooking the daily meals. Arsalan often feels as though he’s on the outside of his community since he wasn’t raised very religious, yet he still has to go to school every day, where he mostly keeps to himself.

Aside from Arsalan, who’s an excellent protagonist, I love all of the characters in this story. Each one is distinctly different with their own goals. My favorite, however, is Nana, Arsalan’s grandfather. To start, he’s incredibly funny and full of wisdom. It’s clear there’s a lot to learn from him and I quite appreciate his no-nonsense approach to life. One of my favorite scenes in the story is when he unexpectedly joins in on the dance party. Masood did a great job at really capturing the generation gaps, but also illustrating what he thinks should be timeless.

The themes of true friendship and redemption are really what drive this story forward and are what provide the most compelling and heartwarming moments. Overall, SWAY WITH ME is an excellent read that will appeal to anyone who’s ever had the courage or fear to try something new, and those who wouldn’t mind falling in love with their dance partner.
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