i received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. all opinions below are my own.
What We Deserve by Alyssa Nohar
Amaya Bhatt is about to have the worst summer of her life.
Well actually, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, so let’s rewind a bit, shall we?
Last summer Amaya was finally diagnosed with social anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder after years of suffering in silence. She spent her Grade 12 year going to therapy sessions, adjusting to her new anxiety medication and overall just trying to get herself together, all while keeping her grades up. Though the experience was life- changing and eye-opening and all of that other good stuff, it was also exhausting.
Amaya figured that after all of that, she would at least get to have a lovely, peaceful summer vacation before starting at university in the fall. Unfortunately for Amaya, she is wrong about most things, this being one of them.
After her sister, Sonam, signs her up for a summer internship, Amaya is forced to work alongside four other recent high school graduates. Now instead of spending those glorious two months reading, sleeping and suntanning, she now has to spend it socializing and trying her hardest not to act like the most awkward person alive.
Amaya Bhatt thinks that she is about to have the worst summer ever, but fortunately for her, she is wrong about most things.
amaya wondered for a moment why, if being alive was so difficult, everyone continued to wake up every morning anyway. she looked across the table at gen and realized that maybe there were more warm moments in life than there were cold ones. maybe if you didn’t make it through the bad days, you’d never get to experience the wonderful ones.what we deserve by alyssa nohar
when i first saw the synopsis of what we deserve, i already knew i was going to love it. i’m so glad i made the decision to pick this up, because it turned out to be the bookish equivalent of a fluffy pancake, and still managed to deal with heavier topics like social anxiety and toxic families.
the characters in this book are so wonderfully diverse. i loved the scene where amaya meets her co-workers on the first day of their internship – we have fai, who is a somalian muslim, gen, who is a bisexual honduran-italian, kaidan, who’s also bisexual and of pakistani descent, jev, who is aromantic and half-korean, and amaya herself, who is bisexual and fijian.
the story is mainly told from the point of view of amaya, and from time to time we are also given some small peeks into the lives of other characters, but i wish there had been more details about how their respective diversities affected their life experiences. while i think that authors should never put excessive emphasis on the characters’ diversities, i was really looking forward to seeing some small details about them, similar to how lara jean’s dad cooked korean food for her and her sisters from time to time to honor her korean mother in to all the boys i’ve loved before.
i was also mildly disappointed that we did not get to read more about the work amaya and her friends did during their internship. i was really looking forward to reading the emails they received and how they would reply, but these were only briefly mentioned. it’s nice reading about how the characters have fun in the office together, but i think it would be so much better if the readers are also given a glimpse into the email exchanges, and how the characters grow as a result.
i do not have any experience with social anxiety, and it is not my place to comment on the how well the representation is done in the book. however, i found it really nice that the author based amaya’s social anxiety on her own experiences, and seeing her slowly warm up to her co-workers and make friends with them made me so happy.
speaking of that, the friendship between the characters was one of my favorite things about the book. i especially loved seeing kaiden and gen banter with each other – the way they joke with each other reminded me so much of my male friends and i. fai and amaya slowly get closer to kaiden, gen and jev over time, and i loved reading about them bonding over art and stories.
the relationship between amaya and her sister, sonam, also made me smile nonstop. at the time i was reading the book, my own sister had just returned from the uk and begun self-quarantine in her room. i was instructed to avoid talking and making any type of contact with her for two weeks, and i was devastated. reading about amaya and sonam during this difficult period made it easier for me to cope with my situation – they are always so supportive of each other, and sonam always encourages amaya when she’s not feeling confident about herself.
to sum up, what we deserve was a really enjoyable and wholesome read. with what’s going on in the real world right now, books like this one really help me power through the day and escape from reality for a little while.
have you read what we deserve? what did you think? do you have any go-to books at times of distress? let me know in the comments below!