Rummanah Aasi
 Graduating into the long maw of an American recession, Sneha is one of the fortunate ones. She's moved to Milwaukee for an entry-level corporate job that, grueling as it may be, is the key that unlocks every door: she can pick up the tab at dinner with her new friend Tig, get her college buddy Thom hired alongside her, and send money to her parents back in India. She begins dating women--soon developing a burning crush on Marina, a beguiling and beautiful dancer who always seems just out of reach.
   But before long, trouble arrives. Painful secrets rear their heads; jobs go off the rails; evictions loom. Sneha struggles to be truly close and open with anybody, even as her friendships deepen, even as she throws herself headlong into a dizzying romance with Marina. It's then that Tig begins to draw up a radical solution to their problems, hoping to save them all.

Review: All This Could Be Different is a slice of life debut novel that fits into the category of "messy people, messy lives" or coming into adulthood. Sneha is a very internal character, some would say aloof, who takes stock in observations around her. She has created a defense mechanism in building walls around her and not disclosing personal information to anyone including her closest friends. She is in her twenties and is one of the very lucky few who has a decent job in Milwaukee working at an entry-level corporate job. We watch and follow her daily life as Sneha struggles to live her authentic life. 
  Alone in America, she is able to pursue her queer identity though she is still closeted to her conservative Indian parents. She is able to keep up the facade of being a dutiful daughter by sending money back home, but not disclosing to anyone that she has been sexually abused by her uncle or that her landlord is racist, refusing to turn on the heat and making appearances to her apartment without her consent. We watch as Sneha create and break fragile relationships. As her friend Tig advises, relationships of any kind are transactional, you give and take not just take, but how do you do that when you can't trust anyone?
  Matthews has beautifully captured the aimlessness and confusing years of being in your twenties when you know what the finish line looks like but you have no idea where you can find the starting line. There are many issues talked and discussed about the book such as the vulnerabilities of being an immigrant and a person of color- being afraid to speak up when injustice occurs in fears of being deported and/or losing your job- and how unresolved trauma seeps into your life and makes a lasting impact. This is a character driven novel that is more concerned with the big picture rather than the tiny details, which felt very realistic. I can't say that I liked Sneha per se, but I was drawn to her story and the community that she created. I did have a few questions that I wished were explored further, but overall I really enjoyed the writing of this book.  

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language, sexual situations, mentions of drug addiction and alcohol abuse, a police traffic stop that doesn't end well, and allusions to sexual abuse by a family member. Recommended for adults only. 

If you like this book try: Luster by Raven Leilani, Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
1 Response
  1. Early twenties is such a difficult time: you're an adult, but not really ready to tackle it all, jobs are scarce or low paying, and you are figuring things out as you go.

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