Today’s post, as the title says, is all about food and love… The featured book is a sweet mish-mash of romance and recipes; in the form of those cherished handed-down over generations old recipe books; and as a foot-tapping plus, a little bit of Bollywood (dance) style thrown in!!
“Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” —Alan D. Wolfelt
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Romance and Recipes: Section One
Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance
Title: Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance
Author: Nisha Sharma
Publishers: Random House Children’s, Crown Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: 13 July 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Teen & YA
Source: NetGalley eARC
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
I love Bollywood (well, of course!) – the larger-than-life-reel-lives, the dancing, the music, the just-about-everything I grew up on. And I love food as well as romance! So how can I not enjoy a book that brings them all in one beautiful, sweet package?!
More Sweet Thoughts
Totally adored all (well, almost all) the characters. I especially loved Jai (even when he seems too good to be true at times!) while I enjoyed watching Radha’s character development as the story progressed. Both MCs were written well and realistically. Like their actions or the dialog does not suddenly confuse us as to their age (they are teens, and yet not juvenile, if that makes sense). I mention this because I do sometimes wonder at whether those characters are too young or too mature for their age, but Nisha Sharma does ensure that does not happen.
Both Radha and Jai are characters with their own issues and realistic problems, and working through those by themselves and with the help of others around them
In addition to Jai and Radha, I also loved watching Radha’s dad’s character through the book.
Food, Family, and Friendships
Radha and Jai’s romance is as sweet as your favorite dessert (whichever one it might be!) and yet has enough substance to render it real. And I also loved the portrayal of other heartwarmingly strong relationships: like the one between Radha and her dad, as well as that between Jai with his family, and the bond between Jai’s family and the director. Of course, the delightful friendships that come about when part of a team were also evident in the Bollywood dance team!
I can’t forget about food when the title has the word ‘recipe’ and there are so many recipes sprinkled throughout along with ‘yummilicious’ descriptions of familiar Indian delicacies! From comfort foods like dal makhani to tasty treats like the samosa, and the quintessential ghee, this book includes enough to be a mini-cookbook! To top that, like icing on the cake, food helps forge and strengthen the bond between Radha and her dad as she tries to prepare her grandfather’s recipes.
Bollywood & Dancing, of course
For those who want a dose of Bollywood through the written word, this is the perfect way to do so – read this book! There are so many truly wonderful Bollywood movie moments as well that are guaranteed to make you smile (even if you are not familiar with them!)
Sharma’s background as a dancer is visible in all the descriptions of the dance/choreography scenes. They are described in wonderful detail; and the sheer energy and ‘dance joy’ (as Sharma mentions it) shines through the pages, literally! I truly wish I could translate those moves from paper onto the screen (hint, hint!)
I also loved how the book talks about the importance of dance in South Asian and Indian culture; the art is revered, and we can see that in how Radha and Jai approach dance – be it Bollywood or Kathak or any other form.
I loved how Nisha Sharma seamlessly weaves in all those nuances of South Asian family life, of loyalty to home and culture, and of following your dreams (or not). She also truthfully and wonderfully addresses mental health issues and the stigma associated with them; and also talks about other health issues (like strokes, for one). The depiction of stress related to high school and college applications/admissions were all too real and reminded me of all we went through the past year as we worked on the same for my older one!
And of course, the dual POVs!
The Not Too Sweet Thoughts
Not too much to note here except that some parts felt disjointed, and others a little slow. I also felt that some of the drama around the dance team and their competition plus winning/losing woes seemed overblown; while other aspects (like that around Radha’s mom) I felt deserved more attention than it did get in the book.
But that said, these points did not take away anything from the overall sweetness of this adorable read.
This is for you if you are looking for a sweet, refreshing YA read. Like me, if you are a fan of Indian food, of Bollywood dancing/culture, of sweet romances, and oh yes, also of dance competitions, you will finish this book in one sitting.
Get It Here
*Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-copy, all thoughts and opinions are my own.*
Recipes Similar to Those In Radha & Jai…
- Carrot semolina halva: the book features a suji ka halva (suji is semolina)
- Alu parathas: Radha attempts alu (potato) parathas using her grandpa’s recipe book..
- Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Romance and Recipes: Section Two
10 Book Titles That Tempt My Heart and My Taste Buds
For Top Ten Tuesday over at ThatArtsyReaderGirl, here is my twist on this week’s topic of titles and covers that make me want to read the book; books that combine romance and recipes (well, not recipes really always, but food certainly!)
A few I have read (and loved) while others are on my TBR.
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” ― Charles M. Schulz
- The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
- Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
- The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
- The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (Hercule Poirot, #35) by Agatha Christie
- Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran
- How to Bake a Perfect Life by Barbara O’Neal
- Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
- Sourdough by Robin Sloan
And Now, the End of This Post
“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” ― George Bernard Shaw
Dear reader, have you read any of the books featured/listed today? Your thoughts on them or any favorite books that combine romance and recipes; or love and food?? I would love to hear about those. And as always, I truly welcome your feedback on this post.. any and all feedback..