**Disclaimer: I was given a free finished copy of the below in exchange for an honest review as part of a tour hosted by Literary Bound Tours.**
I’d like to begin by thanking Literary Bound Tours and the author, Sajni Patel, for choosing me for this tour.
Title The Knockout
Author Sajni Patel
Release Date January 26, 2021
Date Finished January 14, 2021
If seventeen-year-old Kareena Thakkar is going to alienate herself from the entire Indian community, she might as well do it gloriously. She’s landed the chance of a lifetime, an invitation to the US Muay Thai Open, which could lead to a spot on the first-ever Olympic team. If only her sport weren’t seen as something too rough for girls, something she’s afraid to share with anyone outside of her family. Despite pleasing her parents, excelling at school, and making plans to get her family out of debt, Kareena’s never felt quite Indian enough, and her training is only making it worse.
Which is inconvenient, since she’s starting to fall for Amit Patel, who just might be the world’s most perfect Indian. Admitting her feelings for Amit will cost Kareena more than just her pride—she’ll have to face his parents’ disapproval, battle her own insecurities, and remain focused for the big fight. Kareena’s bid for the Olympics could very well make history—if she has the courage to go for it.
I was so super excited to be chosen for this tour. When I read the description of this book, I knew it would be an #ownvoices review for me, but I had no idea how much I would identify with the main character. And no, before anyone even thinks it, it’s not because I am any kind of athlete 😂.
Some Things I Liked
- Themes of cultural identity. Never have I ever felt more like a main character in a contemporary story than when Kareena said she’s “not Indian enough”. As an Indian American, growing up, and today, I am definitely more American than anything else. I don’t speak the language, can’t dance the dances, I dislike most of the food. I’m literally the world’s worst Indian. Kareena, AKA, my soul sister, was so similar to me. She resented the pressure, resented the culture, and just wanted to be herself. I ADORED her. She would have been my hero when I was in high school. Ok, let’s be fair, she’s basically my hero right now.
- The romance. The love story between Amit and Kareena was so stinking cute. I loved every second of it. Furthermore, I think it was suitable for younger readers. This is a book that I’d have really loved to have when I was 14 and I think the adorable romance would have been something to swoon over.
- Muy Thai. I loved that Kareena’ sport was one that I wasn’t super familiar with. I thought it was so cool to learn about a new sport and I didn’t feel like the story was bogged down with aspects of it that the reader didn’t need to know.
- Indian references. Again, I loved all of the humor injected from the Indian references. I may be the world’s worst Indian, but so many of these made me laugh out loud. What’s more, many of the more serious elements were achingly familiar. I didn’t follow a conventional path to my current career, I’ve never been conventional, and people can be JUDGY. I can’t stand how much I loved the realism in this story from both the humor to the serious subjects.
It’s rare to find a series of contemporary books that I love, or would want to read. However, I’d love to read more about Kareena and Amit’s lives. Furthermore, I’d love to read a spin-off about Lily.
This was a phenomenal debut filled with laugh out loud wit and that touched on topics that were all too real. I can’t wait to read Sajni’s future books.
I absolutely adored this book. I gush about a lot of books. But, they’re mostly fantasy books. It take a LOT for me to gush about a contemporary story but I am Kareena. I have never felt more connected to a character than when I read this book. THIS is a book that I needed when I was in high school. THIS is a book for anyone who’s ever struggled with their cultural identity. THIS is a book for anyone who’s ever felt like they’re trying to do it all and that they don’t think they can actually get there. This book is filled with humor, raw emotions, and a touching story of first love.
Recommendations for Further Reading
- Star Daughter by Sweta Thakrar – if you enjoyed the idea of an Indian American Own Voices story but want a bit of fantasy, try this standalone. It has many similar themes, my favorite of which, is the way the author addresses cultural identity.
- Tweet Cute by Emma Lord – not an Own Voices or Indian story, but still a wonderfully written debut about finding one’s place amidst familial pressure, sports, college, and all the other nonsense we all have to face in our teenage years.