Title: Fashionably Late
Author: Nadine Dajani
Release Date: May 29, 2007
Genre: Chick Lit, Multicultural Fiction
Challenge: Winter Reading Challenge
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
From the back cover:
Aline Hallaby has it all: a career at one of Montreal’s top accounting firms, a loving family, and a boyfriend who has finally proposed. She’s about to fly to Cancún with her accounting classmates to celebrate passing the Uniform Final Examination. There’s just one tiny problem: Ali failed the exam—something she hasn’t told a soul.
So rather than suffer seven days in Cancún with her drunken-yet-successful classmates, Ali grabs her best friends and flees to Varadero Beach, Cuba.
Caught up in a whirlwind of rum-soaked nights and moonlit Havana strolls, this good Muslim girl gets her first, heady taste of freedom. But will what happens in Cuba stay in Cuba? And is Ali finally ready to break out of the good-girl mold and grow into the woman she was meant to be?
Fashionably Late is Nadine Dajani’s first book, but it is the second one I’ve read and enjoyed. (Review of Cutting Loose.) The book itself is a lot of fun. It will definitely make readers want to go to Cuba, something that is a bit difficult for Americans (but might get easier with our new President). The depiction of Cuba is wonderful; it is obvious that the author has a great affection for the locale.
It is also a quest of self-discovery, which is always fun to read. Though some readers may disapprove of Aline’s behavior, it is clear she is simply trying to decide what kind of life she wants to lead. Does she want to be a good, Muslim girl who makes her parents proud? Does she want to be wild and carefree? Or does she want to settle down somewhere in between? It’s a provocative question and readers will probably have their own opinions on what she should do as they are reading the novel.
One thing I loved about the novel was Aline’s character development. At the beginning of the novel, she seems kind of shallow, only caring about clothing and such. But as the novel progresses, her inner character is revealed. She is actually passionate about her culture and discusses how Cuba reminds her of Lebanon.
However, Aline is also a bit of a mess. Her inability to tell the truth to virtually anyone close to her demonstrates that she is unhappy with her life. Many people (ethnic or not) understand pressure from parents to live a certain way. It is a dilemma for many immigrant families: trying to raise children the way they themselves were raised in a society that has completely different values. I felt like Aline was very torn between what her parents wanted and what she wanted for herself. To make things even more difficult, she couldn’t discern what she wanted from what was simply rebelling against her parents. These are interesting issues to sort out, but the lying was a bit frustrating. She seemed to live in some sort of denial, figuring that she could continue lying and it wouldn’t catch up with her.
One interesting tidbit is Ranya, the main character from Cutting Loose is introduced in Fashionably Late as Aline’s cousin. It would have been fun to read these books back to back, in order, but the reader definitely isn’t missing anything reading them out of order, or reading one without reading another! I’m definitely looking forward to what Dajani comes up with next.