Book Review: ‘The Trouble With Hating You’ by Sajni Patel

Family setups aren’t usually appealing. Family setups that could work out in your parent’s favor? NOT A CHANCE.

Liya Thakkar’s family life in The Trouble With Hating You by Sajni Patel is painful. Her mother is subject to her controlling, emotionally manipulative father. Not to mention, her father doesn’t believe that one of the worst days of Liya’s life was not her fault. So when they try suggesting matches or offering life advice, she does her best to say no.

That is until Liya finds herself ambushed by a potential match when she visits her parent’s house. Of course, bumping into the man in question during her not-so-slick getaway doesn’t bode well for first impressions, but that is the least of Liya’s concerns. At least until she looks at him. Then she wishes she hadn’t run- for about 2.4 seconds until he opens his mouth.

The Trouble With Hating You is not your traditional rom-com. While the novel portrays the Hindu culture accurately, from the wedding events to customs, clothes, food, and conversation, it also tackles many tough conversations still stigmatized among the South-Asian community.

For those considering the book, it is essential to mention the TWs: Sexual Assault, Abuse, Fire, Death, PTSD, and Anxiety. While these trigger warnings are references to the character’s childhood traumas and are not explicitly re-told, there is still some mild-moderate emotional depiction and re-telling of their ordeals.

Sajni Patel depicts beautiful relationships, especially between Liya and Jay’s family and Liya and her friends. Relationships that stem from loyalty, trust, and the truth. Ones where boundaries and expectations are communicated. Where job offers in other cities are congratulated, and arranged marriages- even if despised, are celebrated.

The book also includes many references to traditional clothes and visiting Mandir. There is also a bridal shower, wedding celebration, and many dinners where people come together and indulge in traditional South-Asian cuisine and customs. The books presents culture in the most natural of ways, allowing characters to show their culture seamlessly throughout their lifestyle.

However, the novel also tackles the rumor mill and the traumas our protagonists have undergone. The rumor mill subjects character’s to constant slander. It also shows the hypocrisy of those who judge others and backbite while claiming to be virtuous. The rumor mill brings up a heartbreaking scenario surrounding consent and presumptions.

This book also tackles a crucial conversation in South-Asian culture known as victim-shaming. The novel not only tackles the outright stigma that many characters embody but also the response by the community’s younger members focused on changing the narrative. Forcing us to think about how corrupt morals become when we place them below tradition.

It calls out the power struggle between community members and men and women. The novel tackles the implications of “tradition” in South-Asian culture. And ultimately, it’s more than a novel about rom-com tropes and Hindu representation; it’s a novel that talks about the toxic and abusive behavior within the culture and the ways to fight it.

After all, “The world is changing, and the older generation needs to keep up or shut up.”

★★★★★

Available where books are sold.

Read the synopsis for The Trouble With Hating You below:

Liya Thakkar is a successful biochemical engineer, takeout enthusiast, and happily single woman. The moment she realizes her parents’ latest dinner party is a setup with the man they want her to marry, she’s out the back door in a flash. Imagine her surprise when the same guy shows up at her office a week later – the new lawyer hired to save her struggling company. What’s not surprising: he’s not too thrilled to see her either after that humiliating fiasco.

Jay Shah looks good on paper… and off. Especially if you like that whole gorgeous, charming lawyer-in-a-good-suit thing. He’s also infuriating. As their witty office banter turns into late-night chats, Liya starts to think he might be the one man who truly accepts her. But falling for each other means exposing their painful pasts. Will Liya keep running, or will she finally give love a real chance?

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