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Finding Joy

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  372 ratings  ·  127 reviews
As his twenty-sixth birthday approaches, Desta Joy Walker finds himself in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the one place he's been actively avoiding most of his life. For Desta, the East African capital encompasses some of the happiest and saddest parts of his life--his first home and the place where his father died. When an unavoidable work obligation lands him there for twelve we ...more
Kindle Edition, 241 pages
Published June 22nd 2020 (first published June 15th 2020)
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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  372 ratings  ·  127 reviews

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I am always eager to read another Adriana Herrera novel because she always manages to bring joy into my life with each book. This one was not different. It was a brilliant read.

I loved that this one was set in Ethiopia. It is told from the perspective of an expat working in Ethipioa, and Adriana herself lived in Ethiopia for some time, which made the setting very authentic. I loved all that we got to see of Ethiopian culture and everything I learned in the book. I’d never really read a book set
K.J. Charles
Very sweet mostly low angst m/m romance set in Ethiopia between an aid worker and a local. It's first person from Desta, the aid worker, who is (as he'd be the first to admit) pretty self-involved for a lot of the book, and I would have loved Elias' perspective and to have a sense of his feelings outside Desta's POV. I suspect that hit more strongly with this one than with most 1st person romances because it's very much about cultural difference and the different ways of looking at the world peo ...more
Pure Nostalgia.
I am so happy, Finding Joy lived up to my expectations.

Adriana Herrera did this story justice. Culturally accurate information. Respectful. Beautiful love story. Incredibly believable.

Quick Snapshot:
Slow burn romance
Interracial couple: Dominican/American and Ethiopian
Travel: Great insight on Ethiopia from the city to the rural areas
Feel good
Low Angst
Great Chemistry
Great secondary characters
Perfect HEA

Desta, the American with the Ethiopian name, he's in Ethiopia working
nick (the infinite limits of love)


Not to sound cheesy, but I found Finding Joy to be one of the most joyous books I've read this year. I've read Adriana Herrera before, so I knew I would adore this book. It's the kind of book that will leave you with a good dose of serotonin flowing through your bloodstream. If you're a romance reader, you absolutely need to meet Desta and Elias and go on the best romantic adventure as they steal your heart.

Besides being an Adriana Herrera book, one of the first things that attracted me to
Jun 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars

CWs: explorations of being closeted and living in a society where it's not safe to be open about queerness, some witnessed xenophobia

(This e-ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.)

Adriana Herrera is healing me from the inside out, and I'm cheesin' big time upon finishing this brilliant, heart-warming story.
Marieke du Pré
Dec 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: romance, lgbtq
This is a sweet story about two guys in Ethiopia, one biracial Dominican/American en one Ethiopian. Desta en Elias meet and immediately connect. I read a couple of sad stories and was ready for an uplifting book. Although some serious topics were discussed in Finding Joy, like not being able to be gay in Ethiopia and leaving your family to study in another country, the overall story was fluffy and cute. For me the more serious topics could have been deepened a bit more. I adored the setting in E ...more
I've given this a C- for narration and a B- for content at AudioGals. I suspect the book is better than that, but I went with a compromise grade; based on the listen alone, I'd have given the story a C, but I think, had I read it, I'd have given it a B, so I settled on a B-.

Adriana Herrera’sFinding Joy has been recommended to me a few times, so I eagerly snapped up an audio review copy when it became available. I loved the author’s  Dreamers  series, which features a group of Afro-Latinx frie
This might not be my favourite Adriana Herrera book, but that's only because American Dreamer is THAT good. This is a very close second though.

This was such an intense and hopeful romance, and I absolutely adored the setting. Absolute gem of a novel. And the fooooood!!
Oct 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
such a sweet and fullfiling story
it also discussed some very important topics which was really great to see
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
A joyous book about two fundamentally decent people falling in love in Ethiopia, which doesn’t shy away from the realities of colonialism, racism or homophobia but instead shows how people can find and claim happiness in spite of them.
Jan 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I loved everything about this. The characters, the romance, the setting, the food, the dedication to changing norms for the better.

Set in Ethiopia, where homosexuality is illegal, this book had it's share of dramatics surrounding coming out and being caught. However, it brought a level of trust into a relationship that isn't often seen at the very beginning. Desta and Elias were both joys and well rounded characters, but I wished for a little more development amongst the side characters and sub
Thank you so much to "I Like You A Latke" for this 2020 Secret Santa gift!
4.5 rounded up

Aww, this was such a delight! I quite enjoy this author's work but I think this is probably their best written so far and definitely my favorite! Having one best friend whose family is from Ethiopian and another who does work similar to Desta, there was a lot of familiarity for me here that made reading this an extra treat! As always, Herrera has some of the best, most authentic, and seamless representatio
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
The writing is just a leeetle more YA than I usually go for (it has to do with the first person POV + a young MC), but that’s a minor thing and entirely my own preference so I’m going to shut up now because the story is great. The love letter to Ethiopia (and likewise the Dominican Republic) is more than worth it. Plus the father-who-struggles-with-anxiety thing is something I haven’t seen represented that way and it hits close to home.

I mean, how many romances reference Frantz Fanon? 🙌 However
Sofia (Bookish Wanderess)

*3,7 stars*

*An e-arc of this was provided by the author in exchange of an honest review*

This was cute and low angst. I really liked the romance between the two main characters, Elias was adorable and Desta was just chaotic. I wish this was told in dual pov, because I would have loved to read Elias' thoughts and feeling about everything that happened.
Desta Joy Walker has finally come back to Ethiopia, a country his mom and dad hold beloved in their hearts, but also the place his father died. Determined to work hard but also find time to enjoy his time in Addis Abba and maybe a little closure, Desta isn't expecting to also find maybe the love of his life.

And while Desta and Elias are clearly pining for each other, both are wary to express their feelings because it is dangerous not just for their hearts but for Elias's life. While fighting and
Jun 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Adriana Herrera gives layers of meaning to her title, Finding Joy.

Desta and Elias have both been avoiding decisions about their individual futures. They aren’t happy where they are, but they aren’t miserable and there are benefits to staying stuck. Desta and Elias find each other and in so doing find the courage to move forward, towards joy. Herrera also shows the joy of Ethiopia. It is a country rich in life and culture and recovering from war and civil strife. Herrera’s portrayal of Ethiopia i
Jessica (the naptime writer)
Jun 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing

(Tropes: workplace; travel)
Adriana Herrera’s Finding Joy is the sweetest little treat and then BAM it’s dirty and steamy and 🔥. That’s the combo that makes my world go round. Add to that two characters who truly connect on an emotional level & an immersive journey into Ethiopian culture & you can see why I’m smitten.
American Desta Joy returns to Ethiopia—the place where he spent part of his childhood & that’s very special to his family—determined to help others & decide his next step. So
This Curly Arab
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs
This is a story about love and reconnecting with homeland you didnt know you were missing. In a beautifuly gentle telling of a queer love story, Adriana captures the immigrant expereince and the slow ache that comes from missing home. Everything I have read of hers has brought back such glorious memories of my own experiences from my homeland.

Desta travels to Ethiopia for his humantatian releif job knowing that he is facing the grief of losing his father head on. Desta uses the opportunity to wo
Aug 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Cute mlm romance set in Ethiopia. Very much the author’s love letter to Ethiopia and the LGBT+ community. It was sweet, sexy, and mostly fluffy with just a touch of angst for the drama of it all.

If I had a complaint, it would be that Desta and Elias sometimes fell into caricature like extremes. Desta acting very young and self absorbed. Elias acting very mature and wise. Iunno, it wasn’t BAD. There were just moments where you were pulled out of the story thinking “no one would ACTUALLY say/do th
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Finding joy is fitting title as it was a joy to listen to. A very good m/m romance, cute, beautiful and a compelling story line that has depts to it. Would really like to read more by Adrianna Herrera in the future.
Jul 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Super cute 😍, & very much making me want to visit Addis Ababa.
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was so cute. I just wish it were longer!!! 4.5 stars is a more accurate rating.
It's such a soft and wonderful love story. But it is not only about the blossoming love between Desta and Elias, it is also about the love for Ethiopia. Absolutly captivating and so heartwarming.
The book filled me with Wanderlust.
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Herrera really knows how to ground her romances in both character and setting. Loved this so much.
Jul 11, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a cute, quick read. It wasn't my preferred style of writing, but it was still enjoyable.

I wish there had been more focus on the work they were doing. I would've liked to see Desta and Elias working together more rather than just hearing about it from Desta's narration later. I also felt a lot of the characters were one-dimensional, which kept me from appreciating the story as intended.
Leigh Kramer
Another wonderful contemporary romance from Adriana Herrera! Desta and Elias had such a sweet journey from friends and colleagues to lovers, when Desta’s work with Aid USA takes him to Addis Ababa, Ethopia. Desta is immediately interested in Elias but he doesn’t know if Elias identifies as queer, on top of homosexuality being illegal there.

I really loved how their relationship unfolded and how they were both trying to figure out next steps for their lives. Elias has been accepted to Columbia Un
Dec 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Cute & fun romance, perfect for when you just want to relax. Ethiopia is described with such love and admiration that you can't help but fall in love with the country as well (even if you haven't set foot in it!). My only quibble – the sex scenes were a bit too jarring, tone-wise. ...more
Jul 31, 2020 added it
Shelves: own, lbgqtia, read-2020
Sweet story between two men against the backdrop of Ethiopia.

The authors passion for the country, food and people shines through on every page and she touches on the difficulties of being LGBQT there.

This was a way more low key story than I'm used to from the author and if you're looking for a gentle romance - this is it.

My one issue is that I thought Elias's story was far more interesting than Desta's (which was good - don't get me wrong) but we never got his POV.
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
This book is appropriately titled Finding Joy and the joy veritably leaps off the page at every turn. Desta comes to Ethiopia as an American aid worker, and his family had previously lived there when he was young. His connection to the country, the food, and the culture there was really beautiful to see throughout the book. I felt it at every turn and it was apparent that Hererra had a connection to Ethiopia herself. This different setting than the U.S. was incredibly refreshing and I loved that ...more
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USA Today bestselling author ADRIANA HERRERA was born and raised in the Caribbean, but for the last 15 years has let her job (and her spouse) take her all over the world. She loves writing stories about people who look and sound like her people, getting unapologetic happy endings.

Her debut Dreamers, has been featured on Entertainment Weekly, NPR, the TODAY Show on NBC, The New York Times, The Wash

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