Pitched as a lighthearted desi take on She’s All That, Sway With Me was significantly more sobering than I expected. There’s a cute and sweet romance, but it’s more a coming-of-age / family story. Arsalan’s really sweet, and I like how he and Beenish helped each other with their respective family situations.
I think, because of all the rather dark themes explored in the story (parental abuse, spousal abuse, horrible abusive men with power, gendered discrimination, forced marriage, etc), my absolute favourite part of this book is Beenish’s friend Diamond. He’s hilarious, and a welcome bit of joy in every scene.
That being said, I think that the romance between Arsalan and Beenish really hit its stride late in the book, when Arsalan realizes Beans’ true motives for asking him to be her dance partner. His insight leads to a deep conversation about their relationships with their respective mothers, and it was a nice realization of how well they’d gotten to understand each other. They also have a lovely conversation about gravity and how opposites not just attract but balance each other out, which is sweet.
I like the other members of their families as well — Nana is a hoot, Aiza Aunty is a star, and Qirat is super relatable. But those stories were a tad more depressing than I expected from a rom com, and scenes featuring Arsalan’s father and Qirat’s fiance can be downright triggering.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an e-galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.