Book Review: The Trouble With Hating You by Sajni Patel

Quick Summary:

The Trouble With Hating You by Sajni Patel is the story of two young professionals, Liya and Jay, who are in the beginning stages of an “arranged marriage.” Liya, a headstrong, opinionated, and fiercely independent woman, is actually against the idea of marriage. She doesn’t think that it’s for her. She makes this vocal to her family, which goes against her Indian cultures and traditions. In typical parent behavior, they ignore her and set up a dinner to meet her potential future husband and his family. Enter Jay, the successful lawyer, who is seemingly also against the idea of marriage but is willing to go through the cultural expectations of finding a wife this way. Liya and Jay literally run into each other, due to a misunderstanding, and thus begins their story.

Plot Overview:

Liya, who just started her new management role at a bio chem lab, is late to her first big meeting in her new role. After arriving 10 minutes late, the person leading the meeting turns to acknowledge her, who is none other than Jay. From this point on, Liya and Jay’s interactions are mostly arguments and banter, given that Liya is not afraid to speak her mind and that Jay isn’t either. He ends up enjoying their back and forth, and after that initial miscommunication is cleared up, the arguments get less combative and Liya and Jay actually become somewhat friendly. Throughout all of this, Jay starts catching feelings and ends up asking Liya out on a real date. Liya, who’s reluctant because she thinks that this could go one of two ways: he’ll either use her for sex, or think this is a fast track to marriage, agrees.

Common Themes + Opinions:

The overarching theme for The Trouble With Hating You revolves around Liya and Jay’s feelings of self worth. For Liya in particular, she mentions that she was sexually assaulted as a teenager by a well respected member of her mandir. She confessed the events to her parents and her father, who we learn has very specific thoughts on women and their roles in life, sided with Liya’s abuser and thinks Liya is a whore and a liar. Liya carries this trauma and hurt, which cause her to act self destructively by dating and bedding men throughout her young adult life. 

In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a bad thing, but Liya admits that her doing this was because she felt that sex was all she was good for. She did not feel deserving of love and a healthy and safe relationship, especially after seeing how her own father treats her mother and how he sides with her abuser. Given those events, nasty rumors follow Liya where she is constantly judged by her elders whenever she goes to mandir, prompting her to avoid participating in some of her own culture.
For Jay, he doesn’t feel worthy of receiving love because of his father’s death. He blames himself for his father dying in an accident, and thoroughly believes that he doesn’t deserve a happy ending because his father did not get to live his out. Jay continues to carry the guilt of thinking he’s responsible for his father’s death and believes that his own brother and mother must hate him for this. He finds out that they actually don’t and that he needs to work through his guilt to be able to live a fulfilling life, like his father would have wanted for him. Liya becomes his safe haven, where for the first time in a long time, Jay openly grieved his father on his death anniversary, and felt some of the weight of this lift off his shoulders.

Final Thoughts + Ratings:

Both Liya and Jay struggle with the events of their past, which have undoubtedly shaped them, and at this point will dictate their future. As Liya is perpetually haunted by her past, she thinks that Jay will eventually leave. She’s proved very wrong after a series of events occur in which the strength of their relationship is tested and Liya’s past comes squarely into her present. 

Overall, The Trouble With Hating You was a cute read. After Liya and Jay soften up to each other, it’s pure cuteness, to the point where by the end I felt like it was too sweet. But given Liya and Jay’s pasts, they both deserved a sweet ending. I give this one three stars for its slow burn of an enemies to lovers tale, laden with Patel’s rich Indian culture and traditions. As for spice, there isn’t much of that happening in this book, which actually suits the story.
FYI, there are mentions of sexual assault and domestic violence in this book, which Patel flags in an author’s note in the beginning.
Have you read The Trouble With Hating You? Let me know in the comments!
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