I have the amazing pleasure to be part of the Penguin Teen CA Blog Tour for The Beauty and the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena! This is a wonderful contemporary read and its Canadian YA, so you know I had to read it!
Be sure to check out all the tour stops for some fun interviews and more reviews!
The Beauty and the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena
Pub Date: Feb 26, 2019
Publisher: Penguin Teen
Susan dreams of being an artist. Malcolm wants to move him and his sister out of a bad living situation. Sparks fly when the two teens meet at a fundraiser for Syrian refugees. A Canadian YA romance for fans of The Sun is Also a Star.
Susan is the new girl — she’s sharp and driven, and strives to meet her parents’ expectations of excellence. Malcolm is the bad boy — he started raising hell at age fifteen, after his mom died of cancer, and has had a reputation ever since.
Susan hasn’t told anyone, but she wants to be an artist. Malcolm doesn’t know what he wants — until he meets her.
Love is messy and families are messier, but in spite of their burdens, Susan and Malcolm fall for each other. The ways they drift apart and come back together are testaments to family, culture, and being true to who you are.
I absolutely adored this book.
Someone who rarely reaches for contemporary.
I completely, whole-heartily loved it!
The characters were phenomenal!
Susan! Oh Susan! We are literally carbon-copies of one another other than that we come from different types of brown cultures and family experiences. I have never related to a character so much in a contemporary novel like I did with Susan. Her shyness was so wonderfully depicted, but she most definitely had some fire. Her loyalty was admirable, but the trials she faces are so tough because of it. Her compassion and her charisma are lovely, but she most definitely has a meaner nature. Not to mention her love for art and her secret–or maybe not so secret–resentment of science and math. She is literally me and I am literally her. Except she got a boyfriend and I do not. O-O
Still…I JUST FREAKING LOVED HER. Her journey, her growth, her setbacks, her heartbreak and her stunning resilience and courage through it all. I wish I had as much guts as she did.
Malcolm. ANOTHER WONDERFUL CHARACTER THAT ABSOLUTELY BLEW ME AWAY! I mean it’s a typical bad boy story with a tragic–very tragic–past and I ate it all up!! Charming, dangerous, and a class-skipper! To be very fair though, Malcolm went through a lot and his decision making was not always that great. There was a lot of growing on this journey. Growth in self-respect, in learning to let go and in learning to move forward. It was really hard for him, and while I have never been in his situation, I can only imagine how hard it must be to even consider forgiving. And he messes up…a lot. But that’s okay. It’s all about the journey, it’s all about the learning.
Other characters…I loved Malcolm’s best buds! They added in the perfect comedic moments and were such goofs. I would have loved to have Susan’s friendships to be further developed, but I understand that the whole point was to show how hard it can be for someone, especially an introvert, to get the guts to talk to people and keep talking to them.
The Family Dynamics
I don’t want to give anything away, but this was some tough stuff. Both characters had to go through a lot in their familial life. Parents can honestly suck sometimes. (I love you Ma and Pa 🙂 ) But they totally can. We’re all human, we all make mistakes but sometimes the mistakes that parents make can have bigger repercussions. Overall, I thought it was a great representation of what it’s like to be in a real, dynamic family.
And spiraling off the family talk comes the discussion on Academic Pressure
THE BEST REP THAT I HAVE READ SO FAR. Susan was born to Indian parents and was raised in Saudi Arabia, where life from ages 4 and up basically revolved around school. Susan was under the impression her whole life that in order to have her parents be proud of her, in order for her to be someone, she had to do well in school. Scratch that. Not “well” she had to be near or at the top of every class!
And I saw myself in that. I truly did. I may not be Indian or Saudi, but I come from a Latinx household where doing amazing in school was an undisclosed demand. There was no room for a B+ on the report card, not once you head into middle school. But Susan (like me!) has a love for art and that is what truly makes her happy! The problem? No brown parent that I can think would ever encourage their child to pursue an arts degree. They may not discourage its practice, but it will forever be a “hobby.”
I just related to Susan so much. Every time she decided to not join a club so she could study, I have done that. Every time she doodled in her school notebook, I have done–and still do–that. Every time she took a Friday night or a weekend to get ahead on homework, I HAVE DONE THAT!!! Every time she complained and felt ashamed about getting a B on an assignment/test/quiz, I FELT THAT. Every time she tried to talk about pursuing art and the shrivelling of her spirit that came with thinking about how her parents would react. THAT. WAS. ME.
It got real personal for me, which I won’t divulge into anymore because this is just a review, but wow. It hit me.
It’s set in a city, outside of Toronto, Mississauga. (Which is part of the Greater Toronto Area…but not Toronto) Anyways, enough geography. NOW THIS IS A HIGH SCHOOL I CAN ACTUALLY RELATE TO. Four periods per day. One lunch hour. Crowded buses. Toronto Maple Leaf references. Malls I have actually been to. Like I was living my best life. I don’t travel to Mississauga often, but it’s not too different from where I grew up!
Still. Just the references and overall layout of the city structures were something I actually recognized.
And of course we get to see some ugly Canada. This story takes place during the heat of the Syrian crisis (which is still ongoing) and has a lot of discussion on immigration and the reception of immigrants in Canada, which is not the bestest. Trust me. We have bigots here too. So while it can be bitter to read about the ugly ideologies in Canada, it is truth that needs to be told.
This was a love story in part and I think I just about melted of cuteness. It took a while for these two to get together, and when they did finally come to, they were just ahhh so cute. The fluff moments were a total overload! And hooweee do we get some great drama! I don’t want to spoil, but I adore how Bhathena handled the drama and the ending that she gave them. I really did.
Overall, I adored this book. I stayed up until 2 a.m. to finish reading the last 150 pages because I was so engrossed! There were never truly any dull moments. There is always something going on whether it be about Susan and Malcolm’s personal growth, their family lives, or their relationship. It is a story about family, love, loss, trust and courage to face the everyday. It is 100% one of my favourite contemporary books yet!
Rating: 5 / 5 stars
Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Are you thinking about picking this up? Would you date a bad boy/girl? *winks* What kind of student were you in high school?
Be sure to check out the other tour stops for reviews, interviews and more! And don’t forget to grab yourself a copy of The Beauty of the Moment, on shelves now!