Priyanka Taslim's 'The Love Match' Brings us a Classic Yet Elevated Take on the Love Triangle
In The Love Match by Priyanka Taslim, we are introduced to Zahra Khan, a young Bangladeshi girl living in Paterson, New Jersey, where a community of other Bangladeshi immigrants resides.
After her father’s death some time ago, her family has struggled financially in spite of being considered Bangladeshi royalty. In New Jersey, it doesn’t mean much or do much to help pay the bills. With two younger siblings, Zahra has to work full-time to help her mother keep bread on the table for their family. Unfortunately, this means that Zahra, who dreams of being an author, won’t be able to attend college at the start of the fall like her friends.
Mrs. Khan, her mother, has other ideas though. She’s convinced that what Zahra needs is a suitable match that will help save the family from destitution. She even goes as far as to set up a date for Zahra with Harun Emon, a boy from a respectable (read: wealthy) local Bangladeshi family. Both mothers find the arrangement perfectly suitable (The Emons are rich; the Khans are Bangladeshi royalty) and even discuss their wedding freely without caring about the opinions of their children.
Zahra and Harun can’t stand each other at first. But once they both open up and realize they’re both against this match, they form an alliance to end the charade before it goes any further.
In the meantime, Chai Ho, the place where Zahra works, has hired a new employee: Nayim, who is not hard on the eyes and who also plays guitar and sings. His close proximity to Zahra makes it almost impossible for her not to fall for him. However, Nayim is basically a starving artist and Zahra knows her mother will never approve of the match.
Still, Zahra and Harun, who have now become close friends, concoct a plan to end their parents' attempts to push them together so that Zahra will be free to openly court Nayim. However, when the plan works out too well—albeit after some collateral damage—Zahra can’t help but wonder if it was worth it.
The Love Match checks all the boxes for a successful romance novel. There’s an enemies-to-lovers arc, adorable meet-cutes, meddling parents, and even an unexpected love triangle.
The Bangladeshi culture bits scattered throughout the narrative add a lot of color to this narrative. Taslim unapologetically adds expressions in Bangladesh and tidbits about the culture throughout so that the novel becomes authentically Bangladeshi. We get to view life and a story that might otherwise be familiar through the scope of a new lens (for those of us who are not Bangladeshi). It really helps us see how at the heart of things, we as a society, are all the same deep down.
With The Love Match, Taslim has put together a story that’s filled with fun moments, interesting culture, and, above all, lots of heart. Her characters all spring to life wholly developed and giving us no illusions about who they are. And though this is truly a romance at heart, it was the family dynamic that sold it for me.
As someone who grew up in a single-parent household, who also had a younger sibling to look out for, and, as a minority, so much of Zahra and her mother’s dynamic hit home for me. Taslim really captures the essence of wanting to please a struggling parent while at the same time wanting to fight to have your own voice heard.
The Love Match is a charming read that will capture your imagination and touch on all the right buttons. It’ll give readers a magical time as they are transported to Paterson, New Jersey and follow Zahra as she figures out a way to have her own say about her life.