I kept running into people on twitter raving about this book. They described it as cute and gushed over it. I am sucker for rom-coms especially the cutesy ones so I looked for it in my library and placed a hold.
I finished the book in a couple of hours. It is an easy read, breezing through with barely any hiccups. It is CUTE. I will give it that. I had to adjust my viewing lens quite a few times initially and remind myself that this is YA (young adult) and I am not quite the target audience. Once I had that part right in my head, it was easier to go with the flow. The other part that I had trouble wrapping my head around was that this book is set in the current day US but reads more like it was set about fifteen years ago. At least, I could relate to a lot of the shaadi talk about a 17-18 year old protagonist because at that age I was hounded by talk of marriage all the time. Even at that time, I was an outlier amongst my peer group. So, it took a lot of swallowing realism to let that slide for me. Having said that, it is pretty possible that even today there are families right here in the US where there is inordinate stress placed on getting married early to the right Indian ladka.
SO, if you can put these two niggling factors aside, the book is a lovely read. There has been a lot of thought put into what it is like being the other, of growing in a bubble that parents create when they immigrate. The story in a nutshell is nerdy girl meets rich dorky boy. Girl is the rule defying, career planning, forward thinking plain lass. Boy is smart, rich, good Indian boy. Throw in classic clique of cool girls and d-bag boys and the rest of the story practically writes itself. They meet, clash and eventually fall in love. There is dance, parallel love tracks, sibling bonds and lots of mamma sentiments.
What I would have liked to see is more tension, conflict and depth to characters.
Despite all this, I will rate this book a solid four stars. Why? Because in a field populated by mostly white protagonists, this is solidly desi. There is no watering down to pander to a different audience. Any Indian American teen will see shades of his/her life reflected in its pages. I can totally imagine teenage daughters of my friends reading this and enjoying it.
As an aside, I can totally see this as a movie perhaps with Shahrukh’s son and Alia Bhatt or someone similar.