When I heard the description of Farah Heron’s Jana Goes Wild, I knew I had to have it. And I am so glad I was proved right.
Jana Suleiman has exited her comfort zone exactly one time and she ended up with a broken heart and a baby on the way. Whoops. It’s five years later and Jana is now at a destination wedding with basically everyone she knows - her mother, her daughter, her friends, her potential new boss…and her ex. Thankfully, Anil is a great dad and they are able to coparent peacefully. But as Jana (with the help of the other bridesmaids) lets loose a little bit, she has to navigate lies told by her mother, her tumultuous past with Anil, and…falling for him all over again? Yikes.
There is no world in which I’m going to hear about a story about a single mother (to a daughter!) having to interact with her ex and not want to read it. Though my situation is vastly different from Jana’s, that actually made me feel more like she was a kindred spirit. Jana and Anil’s story and their coparenting relationship provides a beacon of hope to those of us who are on the struggle bus when it comes to coparenting or even just single parenting.
One of the best things about this story is that it doesn’t rely on the tension between Jana and Anil to move the story along. Yes, their relationship is a major part of the story, but so are Jana’s relationships with her friends, her relationship with her mother, even her relationship with her mother’s friends (which includes her potential future boss). The way in which her friends rally around her without question (and within 30 minutes?!) reminds you that it is way more important to have four quarters than a hundred pennies - quality over quantity. (Hello Mandy's Penny Theory.)
Speaking of relationships, Jana and Anil’s story starts in Kamila Knows Best, but Heron is able to write the story in a way that you don’t have to have read that in order to understand this. The history between Jana and Anil, as well as their history with their friends, is presented in a way that moves the story forward without feeling like excessive exposition, allowing for old and new readers to enjoy the book as a whole.
The depiction of Jana’s anxiety and panic attacks were so relatable that I wanted to reach through the pages and soothe her. And not only are we able to see Jana go through these episodes, but the people around her also model behavior that can help people get to the other side of an episode. We need more of both of this kind of representation because it will benefit those who live with anxiety and those who love someone with anxiety.
It’s a romance so we know we’re heading toward a happily ever after, but I think the journey to get there was more satisfying than the actual ending. Don’t get me wrong, the resolution of the book and the end of Jana and Anil’s story is sweet and done immaculately. But as a single parent, being able to watch these two people find their way back to each other warmed my heart in a way that other romances haven’t done before.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well!