A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that 96 Words for Love is about a half-Indian, half-African American girl who goes to an ashram in India to learn about her grandmother, herself, and the world around her. This novel discusses lots of important topics such as trafficking, income inequality, spirituality, and LGBTQ issues. There are several sex scenes, as well as discussions of "under the shirt" and "under the pants action" and graphic kissing scenes. There's some swearing, including a few instances of "f--k," as well as "s--t," "ass," and "damn." A secondary character gets kidnapped, and there's a survivor of sex trafficking.
What's the story?
96 WORDS FOR LOVE is about a newly graduated high schooler, Raya Liston, who feels a little bit lost. Her grandmother, who was her rock, just passed away, and Raya's not sure she still wants to attend UCLA, which has been her dream since she can remember. When her cousin Anandi asks her to go on an adventure to an ashram in India that their grandmother always talked about, Raya's sure her answers lie there. Her grandmother always knew what to say, and Raya knows that her grandmother left something for her there. New experiences await her there -- ones she wasn't expecting at all. Between romance, new friendships, and self-reflection, will Raya find what she needs before she goes back home to continue on her path?
Is it any good?
This novel does a good job of incorporating important social issues into a sweet love story, but it falls short of exploring them with depth and detail. The setting of 96 Words for Love is unique and gives readers a good introduction to Indian culture and religion and issues the country is dealing with. However, some of the writing and storylines seem forced at times, and the sex scenes in a religious ashram setting feel awkward and jarring. The number of different issues that the book attempts to tackle in one story can be overwhelming for readers.
Overall, the book is a fun read for older teens who are curious about social issues but enjoy a sweet romantic story as well. But it lacks the depth readers expect when tackling such serious issues.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the representation of India in 96 Words for Love. What impressions did you have of India before you read this book? Raya and Kiran talk about how India has lots of different facets: rich and poor, safe and unsafe. Do you see similar patterns in the United States?
How well do you think the author wove serious social issues into the central love story?
Before Raya goes to the ashram and discovers a love for teaching, Raya feels lost about what she wants to pursue in college. Have you ever felt confused about what you want to do when you're older? What things are you passionate about?
- Authors: Rachel Roy, Ava Dash
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Adventures, Fairy Tales, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: jimmy patterson
- Publication date: January 15, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 0
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: February 14, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.