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Fashionably Late by Nadine Dajani

Fashionably Late

by Nadine Dajani

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On the outside, Aline Hallaby has everything going for her: a great boyfriend who finally proposed, a job at one of Montreal’s Big Four accounting firms, a class trip to Cancun to celebrate passing the UFE (a professional certification exam for accountants). In reality, Aline’s not ready to get married, she hates her job, and it turns out that she’s the only one in her class who failed the exam. What’s a girl to do? If that girl is Aline, she cancels Cancun and uses the insurance to spend a week in Cuba with her best friends instead...where all hell breaks loose.

This was a really fun, light read. Aline was a very likeable and relatable narrator. She is a Lebanese-Canadian who, in some ways, is still struggling to reconcile her Canadian surroundings with her immigrant family traditions and that motivates a lot of her struggles and her choices. I liked that angle of the story. The parts set in Cuba were my favourites, the book felt like a mini-vacation. Havana is described in such a beautiful way, the author’s own love for the city was very evident. It left me longing for a trip of my own.

As is typical of chick lit type novels, this one does get repetitive at times and some of the female characters do get whiny. You do have to suspend some amount of disbelief. Overall, though, these criticisms weren’t enough to take away from the positives for me, so I’d still recommend it. ( )
  spacepotatoes | Feb 19, 2010 |
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.

From S. Krishna's Books ( )
  skrishna | Jan 11, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765317427, Paperback)

Convinced you're having a quarter-life crisis? Think maybe a soul-searching trip might help?
Aline Hallaby, a nice, obedient Arab girl, has it all---a budding career at one of Montreal's most prestigious accounting firms, a loving family, and a boyfriend of three years who has finally proposed. To top it all off, 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 has failed the exam. She hasn't told a soul. Not her parents. Not her boyfriend. And definitely not her boss, who will boot Ali out the door as soon as she finds out.
So rather than suffer through seven days in Cancún with her drunken-yet-successful classmates, Ali grabs her best friends, Sophie and Jasmin, and flees to the farthest place her airfare cancellation insurance will carry her: the resort town of Varadero Beach, Cuba. . . .
The sea, sand, and sun, not to mention the attentions of a certain Cuban dive instructor, soon have Ali feeling wonderfully careless and increasingly reckless. Caught up in a whirlwind of rum-soaked nights and moonlit Havana strolls, this good Muslim girl gets her very first taste of what it would be like to be bad, really bad. But will what happens in Cuba stay in Cuba? Or is Ali finally ready to break out of the good-girl mold and grow into the woman she was meant to be?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:06 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Caught up in a whirlwind of rum-soaked nights and moonlit Havana strolls, Aline, a good Muslim girl, gets her first taste of what it would be like to be bad, really bad. But will what happens in Cuba stay in Cuba? Or is Ali finally ready to break out of the good girl mould and grow into the woman she was meant to be?… (more)

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