96 Words for Love
by Roy, Rachel; Dash, Ava; Patterson, James (FRW)

While exploring her grandmother's past at an ashram in India with her cousin Anandi, seventeen-year-old Raya finds herself and, perhaps, true love in this modern retelling of the legend of Dushyanta and Shakuntala.

Rachel Roy is the daughter of an Indian immigrant father and Dutch mother. She is mother to Tallulah and Ava. Rachel is the founder & creative director of her eponymous brand and a tireless activist for using your voice to cultivate change in the world and to design the life you wish to live. Rachel founded Kindness Is Always Fashionable, an entrepreneurial philanthropic platform to help women artisans around the world create sustainable income for their families and communities. In 2018 Rachel was named a United Nations Women Champion for Innovation, and works for the UN advocating gender equality and other critical women's issues. In 2015, Rachel published, Design Your Life.

Ava Dash is the daughter of fashion designer Rachel Roy. She attends college, works and lives in Los Angeles. Ava works with young adults that have aged out of the foster care system as well as former sex trafficked girls in India. Inspired from her travels with her mother, Ava hopes to start a give back business that provides critical resources to educate and empower the girls she has met on her travels to India.

Raya Liston has been accepted by UCLA, her dream school, but she's not happy; she's terrified. She has no clue what she wants to study or do with her life. In the midst of all this stress, Daadee, her grandmother living in India, dies, but not before she tells Raya that she left something for her and Raya's cousin Anandi at the ashram where she once lived and which she revisited-but she doesn't remember what that something is. Raya and Anandi make plans to visit the ashram for a month, and Raya hopes for, if not enlightenment, at least some direction. There is, however, a distraction in the form of Kirin, a boy Raya's age who challenges her. Raya, the first-person narrator, is appealing, funny, and authentic. She has a fresh lively voice and plays off her well-defined co-characters, Anandi, Kirin, and Devin, a clueless Englishwoman who doesn't seem to understand the purpose of an ashram. A subplot concerning human trafficking feels undeveloped, but the star of the novel is Raya's remarkable voice. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

When Raya Liston spends a month at an ashram in India, she doesn't just find herself: She also finds true love. Seventeen-year-old Raya has a plan: major in English at UCLA and make her Indian mother and biracial (half black, other half unspecified) father proud. Spending the summer after high school at the Rishi Kanva ashram in the Himalayas with her cousin Anandi is definitely not the plan-until she receives a phone call from her dying grandmother, Daadee, saying she's left something important for Raya and Anandi hidden on the ashram grounds. Against her better judgment, Raya leaves for the ashram, where she unexpectedly falls in love with Kiran, a budding filmmaker who breaks rules as passionately as Raya follows them. In the process of falling in love and uncovering the secrets Daadee left, Raya realizes that the real question is not what she wants to do but who she wants to be. An insightful, layered feminist retelling of the Hindu myth "Shaktunala," the book featu res a diverse cast of characters who grapple with equally diverse issues in a richly drawn setting. Raya's candor and self-reflection infuse the narration with the perfect balance of insight and momentum. Her relationship with her family is particularly refreshing: Unlike in most books about diaspora, Raya's Indian relatives support her, guiding her through conflict rather than creating it. A beautifully crafted, truly feminist coming-of-age story featuring nuanced characters in a unique setting. (Romance. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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