A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Good introduction to India, Indian culture, social and political issues in India. Introduces Hinduism and Indian spirituality. Discusses income inequality, education system in the United States, LGBTQ issues, and human trafficking.
Follow your dreams, pursue what you're passionate about. It's important to connect to your culture and family. Learn about people from other backgrounds -- you may learn a lot from them. Work on the issues that are important to you and use your privilege to fight for justice.
Positive Role Models
Main character makes mostly good decisions and follows her moral compass. She has a strong desire to care for the people around her. Several characters overcome formidable obstacles such as poverty and human trafficking. Several LGBTQ characters.
Violence & Scariness
One character is kidnapped, and another is a survivor of human trafficking.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Main character has consensual sex several times, described in some detail. Many graphic descriptions of kissing and sexual encounters. Reference to "under the shirt" and "under the pants action." Discussion of main character's sexual experience making her an "everything-but" (sex) girl. Reference to a girl being "knocked up" in high school. Reference to shaving "the pubes."
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Swearing is not constant, but still prominent. "F--k" and "f---ing" a few times. "S--t," damn," "ass," "boobs."
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Products & Purchases
Reference to Instagram, iPhone, Ray-Ban.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Reference to secondary character previously having an alcohol addiction.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.