Review: The Loophole by Naz Kutub

The Loophole by Naz Kutub

The Loophole
Naz Kutub
Bloomsbury YA
Published June 21, 2022

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About The Loophole

Your wish is granted! This YA debut is equal parts broken-hearted love story, epic myth retelling, and a world-journey romp to find home.

Sy is a timid seventeen-year-old queer Indian-Muslim boy who placed all his bets at happiness on his boyfriend Farouk…who then left him to try and “fix the world.” Sy was too chicken to take the plunge and travel with him and is now stuck in a dead-end coffee shop job. All Sy can do is wish for another chance…. Although he never expects his wish to be granted.

When a mysterious girl slams into (and slides down, streaks of make-up in her wake) the front entrance of the coffee shop, Sy helps her up and on her way. But then the girl offers him three wishes in exchange for his help, and after proving she can grant at least one wish with a funds transfer of a million dollars into Sy’s pitifully struggling bank account, a whole new world of possibility opens up. Is she magic? Or just rich? And when his father kicks him out after he is outed, does Sy have the courage to make his way from L. A., across the Atlantic Ocean, to lands he’d never even dreamed he could ever visit? Led by his potentially otherworldly new friend, can he track down his missing Farouk for one last, desperate chance at rebuilding his life and re-finding love?

The Loophole on Goodreads

My Review

For some reason I thought this book was going to be a romcom type of story? The cover copy makes it sound like this light, fun romp around the world for love, and it is those things. But it’s also got some heavy stuff in it that I wasn’t expecting. The scene where Sy’s dad beats him with a belt. Reggie’s clear and heartbreaking alcohol addiction.

I really liked Sy. He’s messy and flailing and desperately trying to figure his life out. The one thing he knows for certain is that he loves Farouk. That love is his guiding star, and I loved that element of the story. I loved that he learns so much on his journey and finds confidence in his independence.

There are two notes the story didn’t hit that I wished it did. So, Farouk left on this glorious world-traveling trip. Sy stayed behind because he was afraid. The cover copy tells us that much. But then we learn that Sy is seventeen. And has an abusive dad. And eventually we learn the circumstances surrounding Farouk’s request for Sy to come with him, but that’s spoiler-y, so I won’t clarify that. It didn’t help how I felt.

I think I wish that Sy had paused to examine what was happening there and ask whether it was actually reasonable for Farouk to expect him to come with him. Or whether it was reasonable to lay the blame for their breakup on Sy for not going. Or whether it was more complicated than him simply being afraid.

Another thing that I wish the story addressed is Reggie’s alcohol addiction. Sy seems to think he can manage her addiction by distracting her with his friendship. I wish that there had at least been some mention of her getting professional help or recognizing that rescuing someone from addiction is not a burden that a friend can carry.

All that makes it sound like I expected every issue to be fully examined and processed by Sy before the end of the story, which I know isn’t reasonable. I guess I tend to struggle with that in the books that I read. It’s pretty realistic for some things to be left unexplored by the hero. It also leaves a lot of space for readers to examine things and draw their own conclusions.

Anyway, I still loved a lot of things about the book, especially the way Sy grows and builds his friendship with Reggie. I loved the scenes in Istanbul especially. Fans of THE MUSIC OF WHAT HAPPENS by Bill Konigsberg or ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE by Benjamin Alire Sáenz should check this one out.

The Loophole on Bookshop

Content Notes

Content warning for homophobia, Islamophobia and abuse.

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Representation
Sy is Indian American, Muslim, and gay. Farouk is Pakistani American and gay.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between two boys. In one scene, they go skinny dipping together. Sy’s dad has a second family in India.

Spiritual Content
Sy visits a mosque and prays. His family believes being gay is a sin.

Violent Content
Sy’s dad beats him with a belt because Sy is gay. Sy reveals this isn’t the first time his father has done this. Sy learns of a terrorist attack in London. At an airport, officers detain Sy and threaten him with a strip search. Sy and Reggie hit an officer while trying to get through a police barricade.

Drug Content
Reggie drinks alcohol almost constantly. Sy drinks alcohol a couple of times.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of THE LOOPHOLE in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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