Blog Tour Review: TJ Powar Has Something To Prove by Jesmeen Kaur Deo // An unflinchingly honest and important YA contemporary.

Is there anything better than feeling truly seen in a piece of media?

Ever since this book was announced, I instantly knew that I would love TJ Powar Has Something to Prove with all my heart, and I’m very glad that I did! I’m so excited for everyone else to be able to read and love this as much as I did.

So today I have a review of one of my favourite reads of this year, which will hopefully convince you to read, or at the very least, add this wonderful book to your TBR; as a part of the promotional book tour hosted by Colored Pages Tours!

TJ Powar Has Something to Prove
⭐⭐⭐⭐

A charming rom-com about high school debater TJ Powar who—after becoming the subject of an ugly meme—makes a resolution to stop shaving, plucking, and waxing, and prove that she can be her hairy self and still be beautiful…but soon finds this may be her most difficult debate yet. Perfect for fans of Netflix’s Never Have I Ever.

When TJ Powar—a pretty, popular debater—and her cousin Simran become the subject of a meme: with TJ being the “expectation” of dating an Indian girl and her Sikh cousin who does not remove her body hair being the “reality”—TJ decides to take a stand.

She ditches her razors, cancels her waxing appointments, and sets a debate resolution for herself: “This House Believes That TJ Powar can be her hairy self, and still be beautiful.” Only, as she sets about proving her point, she starts to seriously doubt anyone could care about her just the way she is—even when the infuriating boy from a rival debate team seems determined to prove otherwise.

As her carefully crafted sense of self begins to crumble, TJ realizes that winning this debate may cost her far more than the space between her eyebrows. And that the hardest judge to convince of her arguments might just be herself.

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Thank you to Viking Books for Young Readers and Colored Pages Tours for sending me a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for a spot on the TJ Powar Has Something to Prove Tour! This did not impact my review in any way.

All the quotes used in this post are from an advance reader copy and may differ in the final publication.

TJ Powar Has Something to Prove follows Tejindar Powar, a high school senior who has her life together—she’s pretty, popular, and, most importantly, a brilliant debater. When a picture of her and her debate partner, her cousin Simran, that was supposed to celebrate their win against the rival team gets turned into a hurtful meme, TJ decides to take a stand.

So she ditches her razors, blocks her beautician and sets a debate resolution for herself: This House Believes that TJ Powar can be her hairy self and still be beautiful, in order to prove the people who made the meme wrong. TJ is tested in ways she didn’t know she could be, and along the way she realises the hardest person to convince is herself.

[…] “The world has these ludicrous expectations of how much hair a man or woman is supposed to have. Hardly anyone fits them naturally, but we feel the pressure to, don’t we? Some more than others.”

TJ was such an amazing MC to follow. Seeing her journey of self-discovery and the way her relationship with her body changed throughout the book honestly made me tear up a little bit. I related so much to her, to her thoughts about her body hair. It’s very sad how the standard for being attractive has always been Eurocentric, and I really appreciated how TJ challenged those standards realistically to be her true self.

Moreover, I also enjoyed seeing her passion for debate. I was instantly hooked on this book from the opening scene, where we are introduced to TJ’s love for debate, because it was so well written! It was so refreshing to see someone strive to do their best in a field that they were so fond of. 

“People will try to make you feel good by saying everyone is beautiful, but what they really mean is written into all those empty beauty campaigns where they only ever show people who still fit the standard or are just a tiny bit deviant from it— just enough to still be acceptable. Maybe they’ve got body hair, but it’s only some peach fuzz and a bit of stubble under their arms. Maybe they’re plus-sized, but they still have the correct chest-to-waist-to-hips ratio. Maybe they’re going makeup-free, but their skin only has a few small imperfections to begin with. Then everybody pats themselves on the back because they’re so inclusive, wow, everyone is beautiful.

The various character dynamics seen throughout the book, whether they were familial, platonic, or romantic; felt so real and fresh.

The slow-burn rivals-to-lovers romance between TJ and her debate nemesis Charlie was SO well done. I kept yearning for more and more after each interaction between them. This book probably had the best execution of this trope.

After TJ quits shaving, she and her two best friends, Chandani and Piper, also have some challenges to work out. It was rather amusing to watch their friendship develop and alter. During this period, TJ makes a few new acquaintances as well, and I really enjoyed watching her mature and become a better person by the end of the book.

Another relationship that was engrossing for me to read was that between TJ and her cousin, Simran. Seeing them go from being distant to rekindling their childhood friendship and finding common ground outside of debate was very heart-warming.

You can’t spend your life being afraid no one will love you if you are yourself. If you cannot be yourself with someone, that is not love. That is settling.”

The author’s writing felt raw and real. The way she wrote dialogue was perfect and in a way that represented the way teenagers conversed, without making it overly obnoxious or cringey. 

This was honestly such a powerful read for me, especially because I am a hairy Indian girl and I have always hated the way my body looked. When I noticed how much hairier I was than my peers in sixth grade, I felt disgusted and not “pretty enough” and have been removing my body hair ever since. I wish I had had this book when I was younger and struggling with my body image, but I’m glad I had the chance to read it now, at a time when I’m still conscious of my appearance.

Although it’s going to take me some time to be confident in my skin, this book felt like a warm hug—one that made me feel like I wasn’t alone after all. It was probably the first book that made me feel like I could be loved, even when I was my true, hairy self.

Overall, this is a solid debut that is a deeply feminist deconstruction of beauty standards. I don’t think any review I try to write could do this book justice, not with all it has to unpack and all the themes it manages to excel at executing and all the unnameable ways it touched me. I hope my fellow desi girls read and resonate with this book as much as I did.

“Time isn’t the cure to timeless prejudices.”

CLICK FOR TRIGGER WARNINGS AND REPRESENTATION

TWs: Body shaming (related to body hair), misogyny, sexism, cyberbullying, ableism, toxic relationship.

Representation: Punjabi-Canadian MC, Asian-Canadian trans male SC, Sikh SCs, Indian SCs

About the Author

Jesmeen Kaur Deo grew up in northern British Columbia, where she spent most of her childhood daydreaming. She loves books that can make her laugh and tug at her heartstrings in the same paragraph.

When not wrapped up in stories, she can be found biking, playing the harmonium, or struggling to open jars. TJ Powar Has Something to Prove is her debut novel.

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Tour Schedule

Please make sure to check out all posts from the amazing people on tour as well!

June 7th 
Melancholic Blithe
The Erudite Labyrinth

June 8th
Bohemian Bibliophile
Dazzling Writingz

June 9th
Hungryforabook
ReadWithKate16

June 10th
@bonggirlinabookworld
Moonchild Lexicons [you are here]

June 11th
Paperbacks and pen
@lonevixen_ka

June 12th 
@bansheesbookstagram
@bujos_n_books

June 13th
Bangalimeyreads
@nikki_bookbinges
Scorpioword


Have you read TJ Powar Has Something to Prove? What are your thoughts on it? Tell me all about it in the comments!

13 thoughts on “Blog Tour Review: TJ Powar Has Something To Prove by Jesmeen Kaur Deo // An unflinchingly honest and important YA contemporary.

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