Summary: Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance
Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance is Nisha Sharma’s sophomore YA novel. It follows Radha, a skilled Kathak dancer who decides to stop dancing after anxiety and a family betrayal cause her to bow out of a contest. Jai is a student at the Princeton Academy of the Arts where Radha transfers. Although she is insistent on not dancing, her dance skills may be Jai’s ticket to medical school (which he’s convinced he can’t attend). Add Radha’s grandfather’s cookbook, Jai’s family dilemmas, and plenty of dancing — and this story comes to life.
This is a real feel-good story, which is remarkable because it does cover several heavy themes. Jai’s father is a quadriplegic, thanks to an accident he suffered. As a result, Jai’s brothers have stepped in to run the family store. Jai wants to pull his own weight by postponing college and helping out at the store. Plus, they can’t afford it anyway. Secretly, though, he yearns to go to medical school — and he has the grades to apply to pre-med too.
Radha’s anxiety has worsened since her last performance, and she never wants to perform again because she has lost her “dance joy.” Her dance mom will not take no for an answer and continues to nudge Radha. Radha finds solace in translating her grandfather’s recipe book and learning to cook meals from there.
I enjoyed the chemistry and banter between Radha and Jai and loved envisioning their dance moves, both together and with their dance team. Radha also makes some seriously tasty Indian food — and the book has all the recipes and directions! This book explores parental pressure, love for the arts, and of course, the college admission hustle. The author does a great job of tying all the moving parts together nicely.
Overall: Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance
Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance creates the perfect Bollywood-dance romance, with a focus on family, Indian food and culture, and pursuing one’s dreams. This book also zooms in on the struggle of dealing with anxiety and panic attacks (which Radha has) and highlights how loved ones can be supportive. If you like entertaining YA that addresses plenty of “heart” topics — with a generous serving of Indian food and dance, this one is up your alley!