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More Than Just a Pretty Face Hardcover – August 4, 2020
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"A laugh-out-loud yet heartwarming story about familial obligations, friendship, and love. Syed M. Masood has created an unforgettable cast of characters with the utterly charming, hilarious, and most endearing Danyal Jilani at the center of it. A thoroughly enjoyable read and a great addition to any bookshelf."
―Sabina Khan, author of The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali
"Funny, open-hearted, and utterly charming, More Than Just a Pretty Face perfectly captures the joys of friendship and first love, as well as all the complexities of identity, faith, and family. This is a spectacular debut."―Katie Henry, author of Heretics Anonymous
"Hilarious and teeming with heart, More Than Just a Pretty Face challenged me, wounded me, made me laugh, and made me love. Danyal has secured his place as a heroic protagonist for the ages who only wants the very best for those he loves. His friends and family are so lucky to have him, and readers will be lucky to have Syed M. Masood's debut. I am a forever fan."―Erin Hahn, author of You'd Be Mine and More Than Maybe
"Fresh, funny, and timely, More Than Just a Pretty Face is a wildly entertaining, stereotype-shattering rom-com debut. Total Netflix movie material."―Sarah Henning, author of Throw Like a Girl and the Sea Witch dulology
"I couldn't have been more charmed by Danyal, the hapless pretty-boy and aspiring chef. One of the most unique and likable characters I've come across. This book has such a kind, expansive heart, and I'm immensely thankful that it exists.―Rahul Kanakia, author of We Are Totally Normal
"Masood deftly explores religion, culture, class, and awkward teenage love in this refreshingly candid 'tell it like it is' desi romantic comedy. You'll root hard for Danyal and will be two-fists-high-in-the-air overjoyed when you get to the end."―Suzanne Park, author of The Perfect Escape and Loathe at First Sight
"More Than Just A Pretty Face is the kind of book I've been searching for my entire life! Not only is it hilarious and heartwarming, with characters you can't help but be charmed by, but it honestly portrays the pressures of living up to family expectations and how history shapes our present and future. This is a must-read for everyone."―Adiba Jaigirdar, author of The Henna Wars
"Entertaining.... [A] broadly relatable story that offers plenty of food for thought. Readers will root for Danyal as he evolves and proves he is more than meets the eye. A charming teen romance with real substance."
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Well developed characters and laugh out loud moments. This books compells one to look deeper within oneself and gives several opportunities for introspection, especially towards the end.
Bravo to this author on his debut novel. Cannot wait till November to read his next book.
This romcom features an American-Pakistani Muslim boy(a rarity in upper ya and lower na) who isn’t perfect but for the most part a practicing Muslim. He’s in love with one of his best friends twin sister but his crush and everyone around him have a very different life for him.
What I liked about him was he didn’t fit the stereotype of the model minority. He wasn’t the smartest kid and according to his dad, a constant disappointment. He just seemed like a prime example of a gen z; wanting to reach for a passion than practicality. I actually liked that about him because it made him seem flawed and human. Overachievers exist but they’re hard to relate to. I liked that he wasn’t perfect. He was also charming and a good cook. Who doesn’t love that combination?
His “official” love interest(not his crush) was also not perfect. Her family dynamic was frustrating and sad but not uncommon(in any culture to be honest) and she’d made mistakes that made it hard for her to be married. As much as I kept hoping she’d consider a life outside of arranged marriage (not because it’s wrong, but because she was constantly being judged for her mistakes and that’s not good for her mental health)I know how important marriage is to religion, especially Islam. I felt sorry for her so many times because she was young and couldn’t take back her choices.
I liked how their friendship wasn’t intense. The hero kept looking for someone who made him feel head over heels but started to realize love was more than liking someone’s physical appearance.
Because they’re very true to their values, they’re very good at not being in situations that would cause people to talk(a girl and guy being alone together). I’m not Muslim so I hope this makes someone feel seen, but I would’ve liked to hear more about the hero’s less conservative friend.
I think the only thing I didn’t love about the book was how his two best friends were. I wasn’t sure why his conservative friend had to be so...intense. It made it seem like to be devout and conservative, that there wasn’t more to life. I just don’t want people to think all devout religious teens aren’t fun too. It came to the point where both his homeboys didn’t get along to the point they weren’t friends because he was so judgmental. His conservative friend made amazing points on how the media shapes the perception of Muslims. I just wish he could have those opinions and like video games, sports, or comic books too.
There was so much focus on him, it overshadowed his less conservative friend. This friend did a lot of things considered haram in Islam, so I would’ve liked to know him better to understand what lead him to all these things, especially since both his friends were pretty much on the straight path.
It also has some interesting history on the Indian countries that evolved from colonialism. It showed a different side to Churchill(someone I know next to nothing about) and how it hurt millions of South Asians.
It has some hilarious moments and some good incite on Pakistani culture. It couldn't have been anything less than a five for me.
Although it is not what his parents dreamed for him, they are somewhat (mostly) supportive. However, as they go through the arranged marriage process, it seems like this can be a hard sell as his future income may not be so high. His handsome good looks can only get him so far. He dreams of marrying one of his best friend's sister, Kaval, who is really beautiful and does well in school.
When a new marriage prospect, Bisma, comes over, Danyal connects with her- but she seems too good to be true. When he takes her for coffee, she tells him why she's not such a hot commodity. He spends some time with her, and though it doesn't bother him, he still dreams of Kaval. However, he seems to get pulled in by Bisma's family a bit, much to her chagrin, but Danyal is willing to be her friend.
Then, Danyal gets picked to enter the prestigious Renaissance Man contest, which usually only has the top students as contestants. Kaval offers him a line that he can take by winning. However, his topic becomes more personal, and he enlists the help of Bisma. As they work on the project, Danyal learns more about history, the present, and all the things that are so great about Bisma.
What I loved: This was such an enthralling read, and it completely pulled me in from the start. Danyal is a sweet and funny character, who shows us that academics are not everything. It was easy to cheer for whatever he wants right from the start. The brunt of the story really tackles some important topics really poignantly. Danyal takes on Churchill as the history teacher's favorite; however, Churchill's legacy ignores the things he did to India. Danyal examines these critically with his parents and Bisma to consider how this reflects not only on Churchill but also on the way the present is shaped. The discussions around these topics are really thought-provoking and well-thought-out. These aspects and the anti-racist ideas are quite powerful and elevate this book to another level.
I also really appreciated the insight into Islam that we get, not only from Danyal and his parents, but his friends, one of whom does not really follow the tenants and another who is the opposite and much more strict in following them. These insights are really important and add a lot of value to this #ownvoices story.
Final verdict: Highly compelling and powerful, MORE THAN JUST A PRETTY FACE is a YA contemporary romance that delivers not only a great romance but also thought-provoking conversation about history and the racism that is still pervasive today.
Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher. All opinions are my own.