"All Inclusive" by Farzana Doctor

Working at an all-inclusive resort sounds like a dream job for most people who live in countries where winter exists.  Who wouldn’t want to live and work in paradise? But with the endless paperwork, quotas to meet, and tourists who think that she is always on call it isn’t what Ameera, a Canadian working at a Mexican resort, would call paradise.

To get away from the hassles of her work, Ameera spends her time in the resorts swingers’ scene.  There are always couples on vacation looking for a single person to join them and Ameera fills that spot easily.  She is able to hook-up without having to worry about the person becoming attached or ever having to see the person again.  

But while Ameera thinks she is being discreet, someone knows exactly what she is up to and has anonymously informed her supervisor.  She needs to find out who is spreading the rumours about her before she loses her job.  Meanwhile, one of her encounters is with someone who can help her solve a mystery that has plagued her throughout her entire life - the identity of her father.  

All Inclusive, by Farzana Doctor, is a unique and moving novel that blends real life and the afterlife to tell an incredible story of love and loss.

This book blew me away.  Right from the start I found myself heavily invested in Ameera and the story of her father Azeez.  The book goes back and forth between their two perspectives, though the two do not intertwine until the end.  At first I wasn’t sure if I would like Azeez’s story running parallel to Ameera’s but by the end of the book I found myself wanting more of it.  I don’t want to spoil any of the novel for future readers so I won’t say how it all happens but it wasn’t what I was expecting and I was amazed at how well it worked.  

There is so much to admire about this book. Ameera is a character that is bisexual and involved in the swingers’ scene but there isn’t a big deal made out of it.  It’s who she is and we explore that side of her as she does.  There is no judgment in the book of her sexual choices and the book isn’t about her struggle with it.  This was very refreshing.  

The supporting cast of characters is also wonderful.  Doctor touches on a lot of issues in this book without going into them fully - transgender issues, being bi-racial for example - but you don’t feel as though they need to be delved into further.  They’re parts of the story but don’t need to be the whole story and that makes this book work because it’s not trying to do too much.  The focus is right where it should be and while one may wonder why it was included when it isn’t explored further, it is nice to see things added not as oddities but simply as how people are. 

Heart-breaking, moving, funny, and at times erotic, this novel that represents the amazing diversity of Canadian literature. A beautiful and powerful story.

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley. The opinions expressed above are my own.


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