by Sabina Khan
Sabina Khan, the author of The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali, has written about the struggles of being a part of the LGBTQ2S+ in the Indian community through 17-year-old Rukhsana Ali. Readers get to look through the eyes of Rukhsana, who is lesbian and lives in a strict home with her conservative, Bengali parents who favour her younger brother Aamir over her. (Aamir is still a great little brother and tries his best to make things better.) Their parents believe that women are supposed to be great wives and mothers but also support the idea of getting an education and getting a degree.
Rukhsana’s parents one day meet her friend Ariana who is actually her girlfriend. Her parents love Ariana, but when they find out who Ariana really is to Rukhsana, they are appalled and ban the two girls from seeing each other. What will break most hearts is that the parents do not care about the fact that Rukhsana is lesbian they are afraid of what the Indian community will think of them for having a daughter that is a part of the LGBTQ2S+. To fix Rukhsana, her parents trick her into a trip to Bangladesh and try to force her into an arranged marriage. Readers will be torn apart by the tragedy but come to love Rukhsana and her family. Rukhsana teaches everyone that we have a choice to make, and it will affect our futures. The words of her Nani “We must be the masters of our own destinies. I did not learn that until it was too late. You have to fight to take back control of your life. Sometimes you will hurt the ones you love the most. But in the end, it will always have to be your choice.” ( Khan 336)
I would recommend the book to readers who can take sad stories but look forward to a better ending. This book does talk about sensitive topics such as rape and murder, so this is directed to an older audience (15+). I am not a part of the LGBTQ2S+, but it is heartwarming to see strict, conservative parents accept and want to learn about their child’s community.
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