The newest contemporary novel from Nisha Sharma balances the lightheartedness of the rom-com genre with the seriousness of topics like anxiety and complex family relationships. Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance is a beautifully written book with such heart that you can’t help but be swept away by Sharma’s alluring storytelling. The authenticity at its core and the unique pacing paired with a more serious angle makes Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance a refreshing read.
Radha is a competitive Kathak dancer at the height of her career—until a family betrayal costs her an opportunity at her biggest competition yet. After her parents’ divorce, she follows her mom to a new life in New Jersey, leaving behind the dance community in Chicago. At a new arts academy, Radha aspires to reorganize her life in preparation for her future. But what if she no longer knows what that future looks like?
Jai is an academic overachiever, valedictorian candidate, and captain of the Bollywood Beats dance team. He has a passion for medicine that combines his interests in biology with his experience as a dancer. The one problem? He has no college aspirations. Considering his family’s limited funds, Jai is determined to stay behind and help his family run their store. When Radha and Jai cross paths, they team up, determined to put on the best performance of their lives at the annual Princeton Academy of the Arts Winter Showcase for the Bollywood Beats dance team.
The book was uniquely paced compared to the typical plot pattern of rom-coms, which was refreshing to read. The novel also incorporated many elements of Indian culture through both classical and modern modes of dance. Radha’s exploration of her own family history through her love of food added to it as well. Radha learns cooking as a way to grow closer to her father and learn more about her family. Many of the chapters include recipes, which is so fun! While these aspects were fun to learn about, the book especially resonated in its universal theme of struggling to find your place in the world.
Radha and Jai’s internal struggles with trying to balance familial expectations, obligation, and personal desires in their attempts to decipher their futures largely resonated. Radha’s personal struggles with anxiety are also carefully depicted in the book. Both Radha and Jai grapple with mustering the courage to pursue their goals. The character development that follows is incredibly illustrated.
Combining recipes and choreography (with a sprinkle of insta-love), Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance makes for a compelling read. If you are looking for an uplifting yet emotional rom-com slash cookbook, then consider picking it up as your next read.
Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance was published on July 13, 2021.