Where the Rhythm Takes You

HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. May 2021. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780063018525.
Gr 8 Up–Seventeen-year-old Reyna has devoted her life to following her mother’s wishes and working at the Plumeria, their family hotel in Tobago. This included giving up her first love, Aiden, two years ago when he moved to the United States. Now Aiden is a famous musician back visiting Tobago with his band and celebrity friends while Reyna is stuck managing her late mother’s hotel. When Aiden’s friends book Reyna as a tour guide for their visit, the two must confront past emotions and current struggles, and decide if it is worth rekindling what they once had. Dass gives Jane Austen’s Persuasion a Caribbean twist. Dass, who is Tobagonian, uses her experiences to create a rich atmosphere that will make readers feel as if they are experiencing the islands. While romance is the main theme, other themes such as grief, artistry, and influencer culture are also included.
VERDICT Part Jane Austen’s Persuasion, part love letter to Tobago, readers will enjoy getting lost in the lush atmosphere of the Caribbean. Give this #OwnVoices novel to romance readers and fans of Jane Austen retellings.

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