The Loophole

Bloomsbury. Jun. 2022. 713p. ISBN 9781547611638.
Gr 7 Up–Kutub commingles the preposterous and poignant, heightened with myths of lost love. Shawn K. Jain is a sensitive cipher, opening with Kutub’s author’s note that includes content warnings about abuse and expulsion, both of which happen to Sy, the 17-year-old Muslim Indian gay son of a homophobic father. Sy’s still mourning beloved Farouk’s abandonment. Enter—rather, crash into the coffee shop window—Reggie, who, in exchange for a kind lending hand, offers Sy three wishes. A million-dollar deposit and an egg sandwich later, Sy’s en route toward his true love. Jain’s focus is, of course, Sy, but he’s equally affecting as Sy’s smothering mother, sarcastic sister, and especially capricious Reggie. He affectingly shifts tone and cadence for Hamza and Delima’s nested tale; Orpheus and Eurydice also make brief appearances.
VERDICT Kutub’s debut occasionally turns bewildering with excessive narrative prongs, but Jain adroitly guides readers through.

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