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96 Words for Love

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  554 ratings  ·  137 reviews
A modern retelling of a classic Indian legend, 96 Words for Love is a coming-of-age story.

Ever since her acceptance to UCLA, 17-year-old Raya Liston has been quietly freaking out. She feels simultaneously lost and trapped by a future already mapped out for her.

Then her beloved grandmother dies, and Raya jumps at the chance to spend her last free summer at the ashram in In
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by jimmy patterson
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I won a free copy on Goodreads thanks to FirstReads in exchange for an honest review.

Spoilers ahead. Get lost if you actually want to like this book. I don't want to ruin it for you.

This book was pretty hollow.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't necessarily bad or hurtful or a waste of time... per se. It just wasn't much of anything. It wasn't deep enough to earn the heartfelt blurbs on the front and back covers from a bunch of different celebrities who knew the famous fashion designer turned author.
This had the potential to be amazing!
I enjoyed all the characters, the setting as well as the story.
What I didn't enjoy was (view spoiler) I think this would have been better if (view spoiler) on this journey.
may ❀
aside from the cover, this book was kind of yikes

as far as the pros go, i really like how this book took place in india and how the mc had such strong ties with her grandmother. annddd that's all i can think of

the characters: they felt shallow and really one-dimensional. theyre supposed to be on this mission to find this item that has this great connection to their grandmother and yet all these girls are talking about,,,,,,nick jonas and going heart eyes at the first ~cute~ boy they see.
Jan 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
2/28/2019 UPDATE:
HEY WHAT'S UP YOU GUYS, YES! *hand clap*
THIS BOOK SINGLEHANDEDLY BROUGHT BACK THE JO-BROS WITH ALL ITS FREE PROMOTION. OR I was right from the beginning and the Jonas Brothers paid for the advertisement. It's like, subliminal, y'all.

This is petty, but what the hay? Raya dissed on Almond Joy and LOVES Coldplay. For that, she is my enemy.
Nah, but genuinely:

Maybe I could've tolerated this book more if I hadn't just read another book ( The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali) that is set
rachel ☾

Trigger warnings for (view spoiler).

Representation: Raya (mc) is Hindu and biracial, Indian & Black American; Kiran (li) is Indian; Pilot (sc) is Black & gay; Anandi (sc) is Indian; Lexa (sc) is sapphic.

◯ Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Darque  Dreamer
Feb 27, 2019 rated it liked it
What can I say about 96 Words For Love? It was a quick, easy read. It was sweet. It was a little romantic, and it was heart-warming.

96 Words For Love was one of those that kind of made you feel light and airy while you were reading it. It was adventurous and refreshing. It was full of life and love, and it was a coming of age story set in an exotic setting.

It felt a little surreal at times, though. I kept thinking that it was an intriguing story, but that it just didn’t feel realistic, like how
Feb 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Rating: 3.5 stars

I was very excited to read this book! A lot of YA seems to be featuring less and less romance, and my poor romantic heart needs romance to live, haha. So, when I heard that 96 Words for Love would be a modern retelling of a classic legend from India (with lots of romance), I knew that I absolutely had to read it. When I found out that the main character would also be travelling to India, I was all the more excited! Once I was reading, I found that the travel portion did not disa
Lorrea - WhatChaReadin'?
Raya Liston is at a turning point in her life. She has just graduated high school and college is the next step. She thinks she knows what she wants to do, but not exactly sure. When her grandmother, Daadee, passes away Raya feels more confused than ever. Together with her cousin Anandi, she travels to an ashram where her grandmother had visited as a youth and then again a few years before she died. She told the girls that she had left something for them there and they were determined to find it. ...more
Kelly Hager
This is an incredibly readable book. There were parts I loved (learning about Indian culture; the ashram setting; Raya and Anandi trying to find what their grandmother left for them) and it made up for the parts I didn't (instalove; a ton of slang that makes the book feel dated even though it just came out). 

Also, if you're not good with swearing, you should know that there's a lot of it in this book. I'm not particularly delicate, but if you are, definitely proceed with caution.

The pacing also
Robin Loves Reading
As I am not big on reading YA, the story was a bit basic but I am not going to give too a harsh rating. I tried to imagine a younger person reading this and that helped me to relax into the story. I would imagine that future endeavors by this new author will have a bit more substance.

96 Words for Love is really a good coming of age story. Raya is a biracial teen, of Indian and Black heritage. She has just been accepted to UCLA, and is more than anxious. Her ailing grandmother dies. Raya and
*3/1 update - I don't usually bump reviews, but I really wanted to say that this was like the worst possible year to publish a book bashing the Jonas Brothers and saying no one likes them anymore

I feel like I need to start this review off noting that there’s a white side character who’s super insensitive whose comments are pretty much all not taken seriously. One of them is not understanding why black/brownface is wrong. This joke did not land well given recent current events.

I’m not sure how mu
Oct 30, 2019 rated it liked it
With the reviews being all of the place I wasn't sure if I would like this. The good news is that I did. Raya goes to India after her grandma dies. There she meets Kiran. They of course spend lots of time together. Also, on the side we deal with a disappearance. Thankfully in the end everything works out for everyone.
Sara (A Gingerly Review)
Jan 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: audio-book-2019, 2019
Y'all... all of the no. I mean, the biggest NO you could ever imagine.

What in the fresh hell was this mess? Besides a full dumpster fire, that is.


My full review can be found here:

I tried so hard to like this story but it just was not in the cards for me. I struggled to connect to any aspect. I mean, with a cover like that I expected more. (I’m so shallow, I know.) I will do my best to logically explain my reaction to strongly not liking this o
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Thank you kidlitexchange for this book! All opinions are my own. This book will be available 1.15.2019
96 Words for Love by Rachel Roy and Ava Dash is a realistic young-adult fiction story about Raya Liston's, a high school senior who has just been accepted into UCLA. Raya is struggling to figure out what she is going to do in college and as a career, a character detail that deeply resonated with me. Tragedy strikes when Raya's grandmother, Daadee, calls to say her final goodbyes before passing a
Following the death of her grandmother, Raya goes to India to visit, with her cousin, the ashram where their grandmother says she left them something to find.

“My acceptance to UCLA was giving me insomnia.” This is a first line that will bring flashbacks to older readers and strong nodding from those currently applying to college. It is a cliff, that time between the end of high school and college. The doubt and questions about next-steps are abundant and, as stated here, a wide cause of loss of
Feb 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-books
When Raya’s beloved grandmother makes a final request on her deathbed, Raya knows she’ll say yes. She’d do anything for her and she’s devastated that she hasn’t seen her since she moved back to India.

Her grandmother asks that Raya and her cousin go to an ashram that their grandmother loved when she was young. She visited a a year ago and left things behind for them to find. But she can’t remember exactly where she left them, so she must trust that the girls can find them.

It’s shortly before grad
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was one of those rare books that I wanted to reread as soon as I finished it. I absolutely love Raya and her journey to find out who she was reminded me of when I was a teen facing the future. This story drew me in from the beginning and I was eager to read about Raya’s trip to the ashram to follow in the footsteps of her grandmother. I also loved the way her relationship with Kiran unfolded and grew. This book was funny, heartwarming, and also faced some serious issues that most people nev ...more
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I started the book, I wasn’t in love with it. I thought it was too juvenile, but as I powered through, I began to love it. Maybe bc I’ve been dealing with a lot of stress recently, this book really touched me. I feel like I have a new outlook, and for that, I could give nothing less than 5 stars. I’m glad I read this book when I did...and that I didn’t give up on it like I was tempted to.
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This would be an amazing book for certain teen girls. It was enjoyable to me and I like what it's doing and I have no real complaints. It's just one of those things where they're trying a little too hard to appeal to "current" teens. But- the characters and story itself was interesting enough that it was still fun to read.

The setting is wonderfully described, the characters well developed and it's a great look into a part of the world that most people don't get to see. I'll definitely recommend
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
more or less like a 3.5 book. this wasn’t awful, no, but was it the best? no. was it really good? no. was it okay? yes. will i ever recommend it to someone? probably not.

i just feel like the romance was so rushed and some characters deserved to have more background to them. plus the main character was beginning to get on my nerves at the very end. some stuff just didn’t flow will with the story. some dialogue didn’t flow will with the story. but overall i enjoyed it to say it sat on my tbr for t
Jay DeMoir
Apr 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

This was a quick, easy read but really just a lot of fluff. There wasn't anything 'deep' or resonating with this book. The story had so much potential but seemed to fall flat.
The premise was intriguing & I was eager to learn more about India but we didn't get a lot of the culture or anything. We ended up getting Raya instantly falling in love and then sneaking around with a boy and having sex in a holy place.
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was lovely. The writing was simple, but descriptive. It is a very character driven story, with a small plot to help move things forward.
This book talks about some serious things, and I feel it was handled in a delicate enough way. If this mother/daughter duo decided to write another book together, I would give it a try.
Skye Chanel
Feb 06, 2019 rated it liked it
This book had so much potential but it’s was just meh for for me 🤷🏽‍♀️🤷🏽‍♀️

The story arc with the two little girls was beautiful but other than that it was alright.
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
The best thing about reading eBooks is that I can annotate as I read and not cause permanent damage to a physical book. I annotated a lot during this book. However, most of my annotations were literally just highlighting a sentence (or paragraph) and writing "puke." Or, if something really made me cringe, I wrote "PUKEPUKEPUKEPUKEPUKEPUKE."

I was excited for this book. I don't know that much about Indian folklore. This book is based on the Indian tale of Shakuntala and Dushyanta. When I found tha
Mar 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing this book into my life. As a mixed-race teen I never read a book that I related to as I did this book. That being said, there were some missed opportunities in this novel for powerful imagery and more nuanced cultural portrayals. I'm delighted to have read this and am looking forward to increasingly diverse YA fiction!
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Char Benson (Bookish Raider)
Jan 19, 2020 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I regret reading this book and getting it from my library. First of all idk if ever want to read another book that is publish from james publishing team. Second of all the narration was off. Third dont judge my review too much i only read 64 pages of this. I dnf. I love romance and this was no romance. The writing was okay i guess. It needed more story and more interesting characters. Next time I be careful when reading a book with a pretty cover.
☯~☽~•Patricia Mainard•~☾~☯
I actually enjoyed this book a lot! The writing was great and easy to read. I enjoyed the characters. I finished this novel feeling fairly satisfied. Absolutely recommend.
Amber Garabrandt
First and foremost, our Raya has some serious anxiety issues, which I think heighten her need to know what to do at all times.  She's a thinker, a planner, a worrier.  When Daadee, one of the most important people in her life, dies her world comes crashing down.  Already, she was dreading the next year with UCLA- not that she minded the college or college in general.... just that this meant it was time to think about forever.  What she studied here was what she would do for the rest of her life. ...more
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Rachel Roy is the daughter of an Indian immigrant father and Dutch mother. She is mother to Tallulah and Ava. Rachel is the founder & creative director of her eponymous brand and a tireless activist for using your voice to cultivate change in the world and to design the life you wish to live. Rachel founded Kindness Is Always Fashionable, an entrepreneurial philanthropic platform to help women art ...more

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