All This Could Be Different

Viking. Aug. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9780593489123. $27. F
DEBUT First-timer Mathews introduces a group of millennials confronting similar struggles with relationships, sexual orientation, racial and social injustice, careers, economic instability, renters’ rights, substance abuse, and more. They are all connected to the central character, strong-willed and self-reliant Sneha, whose very strengths often get in her way. A first-generation Asian immigrant queer woman, Sneha looks back on her own coming-of-age when she enters her first significant relationship with a woman, which she then complicates by failing to be honest about her family. Following her father’s deportation, her parents have moved back to India, and the emotional distance between them and Sneha has only widened. When Sneha’s boss exploits her tenuous work visa status, there are calamitous consequences, and Sneha’s financial security is threatened.
VERDICT Using humor and beautiful prose, Mathews successfully tackles timely and serious subjects. Despite all the hardships they face, Sneha and the other well-rounded characters are able to build their futures because enduring friendships enable them to persist and even thrive. Ultimately, the novel’s title is its prophetic and vitally hopeful message. Highly recommended.
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