The Cult of Romance

The Cult of Romance

Sarah Ayoub


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When your bestie is marrying a guy she barely knows, can you save her from the cult before it's too late?

Natalie is living proof that love is a scam.

She's traumatised by her parents' failed marriage and overwhelmed by her grandmother's expectations of good Lebanese girls — marriage, motherhood and exceptional tabouli-making skills.

When her best friend decides to get hitched to a guy in the motherland, Nat's not exactly thrilled by the mammoth task before her: juggling cultural traditions, extra bridesmaid dresses and super-judgemental relatives.

And to top it off there's the annoyingly good-looking best man and his constant need to mansplain all of the things.

Natalie is in for the trip of her life. But can she save her friend from the cult of romance, without falling in love herself?


'The Cult of Romance is a vividly realised, dazzling and charming book which made me snort with laughter as much as it compelled me to pause for thought. Ayoub tackles the agonies and joys of in-betweenness, of what, who and where we make and feel homeland and heartland. Her intimacy with the worlds she writes about is obvious in her rich and subtle descriptions. Ayoub has given Australian YA literature a fresh and uniquely cross-generational and cross-border perspective on perennial themes of identity, family, friendship, loyalty and love. A young Australian Lebanese woman grappling with these questions as she navigates her parent's homeland, Lebanon. The story invites readers to think about the many worlds-and worlds within worlds- children of migrants must navigate without losing sight of the humour, lightness and joys in the journey. Ayoub has written something truly original and special.'

- Randa Abdel-Fattah, award-winning author ofWhen Michael Met Mina

'The Cult of Romance is a fun, heartfelt and relatable read that buzzes with youthful energy. Sarah Ayoub manages to criss-cross two worlds and tenderly land in the space in between, where children of diaspora often find themselves. Her book deftly captures the angst of growing up torn between two cultures. The Cult of Romance is for those who've never seen themselves in the pages of a novel, whose old-country customs say more about who they are than who their parents or grandparents were. In this way, The Cult of Romance is a quintessentially Australian story about love, family, belonging and finding your place in the world.'
- Jan Fran, social commentator and Walkley Award-winning journalist


Sarah Ayoub:

Sarah Ayoub is a journalist, bestselling author and academic with a PhD in migrant Australian YA literature. Her work has been published in The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney Review of Books, Meanjin and more. Sarah is a Stella Schools Program ambassador, has mentored the youth curators of The Sydney Writers' Festival YA program, contributed to the anthology Arab, Australian, Other: Stories on Race and Identity and most recently been a judge for the NSW Premier's Literary Awards. Sarah was elected to the board of the Australian Society of Authors in 2021 and is currently working on her first novel for adults as the writer-in-residence of Sweatshop Literacy Movement.

Sarah is an advocate for education and Australian stories, appearing at schools and festivals where she promotes her YA novels Hate is Such a Strong Word,The Yearbook Committee andThe Cult of Romance as well as her debut picture book, The Love that Grew.