I’ve been reading less YA contemporary these days.
But I’ve had It All Comes Back to You on my radar, especially ever since the gorgeous cover by Zahra Fatima was dropped, and I was so excited to read it. While it’s marketed as a romcom and that’s not usually what I reach for, I knew that it would also deal with heavier topics as well and was interested to see those explored.
What I didn’t expect was that it would be a lot less focused on romance and more so on family and individual character growth, which was honestly a better outcome than I could have expected. And today I’m here to review It All Comes Back to You in all its messy (in a good way) glory!
FARAH NAZ RISHI || SEPTEMBER 14, 2021
After Kiran Noorani’s mom died, Kiran vowed to keep her dad and sister, Amira, close. Then out of the blue, Amira announces that she’s dating someone and might move cross-country with him. Kiran is thrown.
Deen Malik is thrilled that his older brother, Faisal, has found a great girlfriend, even if it’s getting serious quickly. Maybe now their parents’ focus will shift off Deen, who feels intense pressure to be the perfect son.
When Deen and Kiran come fact to face, they silently agree to keep their past a secret. Four years ago–before Amira and Faisal met–Kiran and Deen dated. But Deen ghosted Kiran with no explanation. Kiran will stop at nothing to find out what happened, and Deen will do anything, even if it means sabotaging his brother’s relationship, to keep her from reaching the truth. Though the chemistry between Kiran and Deen is undeniable, can either of them take down their walls?
Thank you to Quill Tree Books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion in any way.
All quotes are from an advance copy and may differ in final publication.
A heartfelt coming of age story, It All Comes Back to You might not be the most completely enjoyable book to read, but it portrays flawed teens learning from their errors in a way that will certainly resonate with many readers finding their way back to themselves.
It All Comes Back to You follows Kiran and Deen, two exes with unresolved conflict after Deen ghosted Kiran three years ago. They are brought together when their older siblings surprise them with plans to marry. While Kiran attempts to break them apart, Deen tries to ensure the wedding goes smoothly, as they both deal with the repercussions of what happened in their own pasts and with the strange air between the two of them.
Love isn’t a feeling; it’s the act of planting a seed and putting in the time and care it needs to grow.
Kiran is dealing with the pressure of some of her mother’s last words to her about looking after her family, and Deen carries the weight of a years-old secret while trying to protect his brother. Though I didn’t particularly care about either of them or their romance, their growth over the course of the book really shined for me. Both Kiran and Deen make questionable choices, and some of them aren’t entirely comfortable to read. But their development is done well, and that is ultimately the goal of the story—to show the flawed decisions and actions of young teens figuring things out, and then portray how they learn and grow.
Deen’s arc deals with learning how to handle guilt as well as how to not bottle his feelings up, and Kiran’s involved discovering what kinds of things she wants to do for herself in the future. They both have to learn how to be kinder to themselves, and listen to their own wants and needs the way they do for other people, but they also are thoughtless towards others at times and have to become less selfish too. I loved how they were somehow both these seemingly opposite things at the same time, making them more multi-faceted and their growth more interesting.
Dance is a person’s soul reaching out to talk through the body.
At the heart of the story is both Kiran and Deen’s love for their older siblings and their intense want to protect them because of tragic past events in their lives. I appreciated seeing how important their siblings were to them, as well as how hard Kiran and Deen fought for them, even though they might have gotten carried away. I have a close relationship with my own sister, and I always love getting to read similar sibling relationships in YA. Both of their bonds were particularly heartwarming, Deen and Faisal’s in the midst of their parents’ neglect and expectations, and Kiran and Amira’s in the aftermath of their mother’s death.
And a minor thing I loved was how important dance was to Kiran! How she described it, as something expressing her soul and something she found freedom in, is exactly how I feel about dance. Though the story certainly is not focused on dance, I was pleasantly surprised to see it in the book at all, and it made me feel more connected to Kiran.
Unfortunately, the plot overall was not my thing. While it was driven mostly by Kiran and Deen’s desire to protect their siblings, much of it also hinges on miscommunication or lack of communication between the characters, which is one of my least favorite things to read. Because of that, I sometimes felt irritated by or uneasy over certain events in the book, and I didn’t feel invested enough to want to know what would happen. It was the characters’ development that really saved the book for me: while the plot wasn’t enjoyable all the time, it led up to a gratifying culmination of the character’s arcs and accentuated the extent of their growth.
“Where you live, where you love, where you breathe—that is where your home will be.”
The marketing for this book is unfortunately totally off. It definitely is not a romcom like it’s being marketed as, with barely any romance, which I would have loved to see more from. The mislabeling does the book so much injustice because not only will it disappoint people who expected a romcom, but it also is more than a simple fun romance. It is a coming of age book following characters making mistakes and figuring out what they need to do, dealing with family and identity and even tackling darker themes like grief and abuse.
Even though I felt indifference or even discomfort at certain parts, my feelings over It All Comes Back to You definitely remain more positive than negative. If you don’t love books that have miscommunication, or find yourself irritated by messy teen characters, you might not want to pick this up. But certainly give this a try if you love contemporaries with satisfying character growth and an emphasis on family and sibling love, with a tiny splash of romcom fun.
:: representation :: Pakistani American Muslim MCs, Pakistani American Muslim characters, Indonesian(?) American side character
:: content warnings :: parental death, parental emotional abuse, terminal disease, depictions of grief, mentions of drug use, bullying & arson
is It All Comes Back to You on your tbr? do you love books about messy characters, or sibling relationships? are you a romcom kind of reader?