Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance by Nisha Sharma
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: YA 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.
The dance competition for money trope was very popular when I was growing up and I'm happy to write that Sharma gets it just right. She included enough detail for me to picture the dance scenes as well as the cooking ones. The recipes passed down from Radha's grandpa are wonderfully placed throughout the book and I love how they connect to Radha's experiences. Sharma did not write this book with non-Indian folx front and center, so the dishes and references are not watered down for us. We must look up the terminology along the way and I liked that. I got to learn more about other cultures and enjoy the content of the story even more.
Jai and Radha make a very sweet couple. They reminded me of how big every disagreement felt when I was a teen. It felt like all or nothing and sometimes I forget that. This also included the classic problems that teens from immigrant and/or competitive families deal with: feeling like they always have to help and believing that they will never be good enough. Now that I'm an adult, this makes me frustrated but I remember feeling the same way!
Radha & Jai's Recipe for Romance managed to be sweet, enriching, silly, and a bit sad all at the same time. I recommend readers also listen to the audiobook if they are not familiar with the pronunciation of names, dishes, dances, etc. It's very helpful and the narrator, Mayuri Bhandari, has the perfect voice for it.
Radha & Jai's Recipe for Romance is an awesome book for folks who want a sweet romance book with flair. Folx who prefer their romances without sex scenes will love this.