Two Book Tuesday

I read these back-to-back and both had me very emotional.

Title: A Show for Two
Author: Tashie Bhuiyan
Genre: Adult Romance  
Publication Date: May 10th, 2022
Ratings: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Summary:

Mina Rahman has a plan for her future:
• Finally win the Golden Ivy student film competition
• Get into her dream school across the country
• Leave New York City behind once and for all

Mina’s ticket to winning the competition falls into her lap when indie film star—and known heartbreaker—Emmitt Ramos enrolls in her high school under a secret identity to research his next role. When Mina sets out to persuade Emmitt to join her cause, he offers her a deal instead: he’ll be in her short film…if she acts as a tour guide to help him with a photography contest.

As Mina ventures across the five boroughs with Emmitt by her side, the city she grew up in starts to look different and more like home than it ever has before. With the competition deadline looming, Mina’s dreams—which once seemed impenetrable—begin to crumble, and she’s forced to ask herself: Is winning worth losing everything?

I was a big fan of Bhuiyan’s debut, Counting Down with You, when it came out last year. When I heard her sophomore release was loosely based on the her actual experience when Tom Holland went undercover as a student at her high school, I was sold.

Film meant everything to Mina, it was her ticket out of NYC and away from her verbally abusive parents. She just needs to finally win the student film competition. When undercover indie actor Emmitt Ramos walked into her class, it looked like smooth sailing to USC film school. Except that he’ll only help her if he gets something in return.

While this was a romance, it was much more centered on Mina and her growth. She thinks that her only way to make it in film was to be in LA—getting away from her toxic parents was a plus, too. Her parents were truly awful—isolating and verbally sparring with both daughters through guilt and intimidation. The relationship with her parents was so strained that it damaged her connection to her Bangladeshi culture and Muslim religion. Mina’s need to get away causes a rift between her and her sister, who believes Mina wants to abandon her with their unrelenting parents.

As Mina and Emmitt grew from adversaries to something more, she showed him around the five boroughs and helped him complete a photography contest. Through their exploration, not only did Mina fall in love with Emmitt, but she also fell back in love with her hometown of NYC. She was not going to let her parents’ behavior push her away from her home.

ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Breathe and Count Back from Ten
Author: Natalia Sylvester
Genre: YA Romance  
Publication Date: May 10th, 2022
Ratings: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Goodreads Summary:

Verónica, a Peruvian‑American teen, must deal with both her painful hip dysplasia and her overprotective immigrant parents, all while chasing her dream to become a professional mermaid in this gorgeously written, authentic novel about secrets and finding your wings (or tail)

Chronic pain representation! Disability representation! Disability Own Voices! This is what I like to see!

Veronica basically lived in the water. Not only did she love to swim, but it was one of the only forms of exercise that didn’t exacerbate her hip dysplasia. The water was her joy and her safe haven. From spending years of her life in and out of surgery and full length leg casts, she felt a connection to mermaids. When she had a chance to try out to be a real mermaid working at the theme park down the road, she did everything she could to keep it from her parents. The inclusion of mermaid mythology tied together with Peruvian lore was really special, helping connect Veronica with a culture that at times got lost for her, having moved to the US as a little girl.

Veronica’s immigrant parents were very overprotective, going as far as to lie to her about the seriousness of the state of her disability. They only wanted what was best for her, but by keeping her out of loop she rebels, almost to a dangerous degree. I loved the conflicted feelings Veronica had about her body. She loved her body—especially as she slowly embraced her scars—but it also brings her pain and stress for her and her family.

The romance was sweet, maybe at times a little too quick, but it was Veronica’s journey that was so special. I felt that end was a little rushed, but albeit satisfying. This really was a wonderful story.

ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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