The Chai Factor
The Chai Factor
by Farah Heron
Thirty-year-old engineer Amira Khan has set one rule for herself: no dating until her grad-school thesis is done. Nothing can distract her from completing a paper that is so good her boss will give her the promotion she deserves when she returns to work in the city. Amira leaves campus early, planning to work in the quiet basement apartment of her family’s house. But she arrives home to find that her grandmother has rented the basement to . . . a barbershop quartet. Seriously? The living situation is awkward: Amira needs silence; the quartet needs to rehearse for a competition; and Duncan, the small-town baritone with the flannel shirts, is driving her up the wall.
As Amira and Duncan clash, she is surprised to feel a simmering attraction for him. How can she be interested in someone who doesn’t get her, or her family’s culture? This is not a complication she needs when her future is at stake. But when intolerance rears its ugly head and people who are close to Amira get hurt, she learns that there is more to Duncan than meets the eye. Now she must decide what she is willing to fight for. In the end, it may be that this small-town singer is the only person who sees her at all.
I adored The Chai Factor! Amira and Duncan clashed on their first meeting. Then their forced proximity lead to an antagonistic relationship which was clearly displaying the attraction between them. While Amira and Duncan both come from very different backgrounds, they also have similarities and determination for what they want in life. The Chai Factor includes a cast of colorful and vibrant minor characters that complement the well-crafted main characters. Set firmly in the current political environment, this book does not shy away from the serious issues affecting immigrant and minority families in Canada. The overwhelming theme is that those different from us are not being viewed as people but rather “other” and how those horrible politics and views affect the everyday life of Amira and her family. Also addressed is the internal prejudices in Amira’s community and the parallels between that and harmful prejudices of Duncan’s family. This book is thoughtfully crafted, with strong and relatable characters and serious issues handled with care. At its core, it is a beautiful love story.