Nithya, a vivacious, intelligent and driven college senior has always known what she has wanted: a successful career in medicine and the love of her family. She’s even come to terms with the idea of an arranged marriage, a tradition her conservative Indian family has held up for thousands of years.
When a night of partying puts her on a collision course with danger, Nithya’s entire life changes.
Enter James St. Clair, the smart, challenging and heartbreakingly handsome American. As Nithya and James fall in love, she questions the future she and her parents have always planned.
Now, Nithya has a choice to make: become a doctor and a good Indian bride, or step away from her family and centuries of culture to forge her own path. The decision she comes to takes her on a journey that transforms how she sees her future, her relationships with loved ones, and how she learns to put herself back together when even her best-laid plans fall apart.
I was provided an ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.Thank You Curiosity Quills.
I am a 23 year old Indian Girl of marriageable age.
Why does that matter? Because let’s just say that every opinion and thoughts that I have had about this book – from actually requesting to be a part of this blog tour to the thoughts reading this book – have been influenced by that single fact.
“We have to be as Indian as the people in India and as American as the Americans. We can’t win.”
I have lived in a time and a place where in my thoughts and opinions have been influenced by western thoughts. I have to be honest in saying, that yes, of all the things that is Indian, arranged marriages is the stick in the mud for me. I have never understood the concept of marrying a total stranger just for the sake of society’s expectations, especially considering it’s my own life. And that’s the thought that propelled me to read this book.
“She might be a good catch, but she should have stuck to an Indian. What is the point of having your own culture if you just blend right in and marry the one you moved into? You marry your kind. You are no Indian if you don’t act like one!”
Nithya is a typical American Indian girl. She is only now completing her college, and preparing for medical school. Her life is on a perfect little curve – getting a good GPA and enter medical school, because that is what good Indians do. That curve goes a little haywire when she collides with James St. Clair – everything that she (and her parents) could want in a husband for her, except one major exception – He is White.
James throws everything that she has known or at least believed out the window, because for the first time she is thinking – thinking about her life, her career and the fact that being an Indian girl in this world just becomes a lot harder by each day.
“Aunties don’t see love marriages as a path to happiness. It will always be selfish betrayal.”
It didn’t take more than a few pages to identify myself with Nithya – a girl who is stuck between living in a world that sees love more freely and wanting to be a part of the world that sees love more of an occupational hazard than a need.
All my life, I have been oscillating between the need to please myself and the need to please my parents and while it maybe a little weird for most of you, while I may have fought with my parents of ‘n’ number of things, stared down murderers and rapists and debated with cops on investigating a particular crime – wanting to put my own choice of husband in front of my parents still has me quaking in my metaphorical boots.
And this, is a fear that each Indian (boy or a girl) faces, especially if they had the audacity to fall in love before marrying. India is still a country, where in, relationships are still conducted in secret, holding hands begets you stares and mutterings of how youngsters today are hell bent upon “westernizing” themselves.
Now don’t get me wrong – it isn’t all bad – I do have to admit, most of this fear is in our heads yet there is this fact that you can see the disappointment in their eyes and that breaks almost breaks you. It is so hard, and difficult not many outside of the Indian Community (or maybe the Asian) would actually be able to understand and that is where Ms. Sharma succeeds brilliantly.
Her thoughts (or rather Nithya’s thoughts) are to the point. The nervousness, the fear, the anxiety, the belief that you are doing something wrong (even if you aren’t!) are perfectly described in this book.
“Perhaps the idea of falling in love, dating, and making your own decisions is overplayed. Maybe love grows. Maybe it isn’t something that exists from the first look or first kiss. Maybe, just maybe, the end justifies the means.”
Again, this is a single POV book (which y’all know I am not very fond of!), yet I was better with this one, because Nithya’s thoughts and actions are so a mirror image of mine, and frankly, because of Ms. Sharma’s focus on the protagonist’s tug of war – internal and external – the romance does take back seat, even to the extent of James coming off as a secondary character – making it the only issue I had with this book.
Beyond that, this is a book that will show you a different perspective, being as it is not about Americans/British/European or any other western country. It is about a girl stuck in two different worlds and yet manages to construct a bridge between them.
4.5 / 5 Stars
It’s a different type of romance with different characters and a different background. It is something new to discover and I would suggest you do that, especially if you are as intrigued by the Indian culture as most are. Also, if you are Indian – then definitely read this because most of it will definitely resound with you ❤
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About The Author
Annika Sharma was born in India and moved to the United States (Pennsylvania!) when she was a baby. Annika was a daydreamer from day one, always coming up with stories and games of pretend that seemed real. She was a serious journal-writer from fifth grade to college and wrote dramatic scenes for stories often, inspired by soap operas she watched in summers off from school.
Eventually, when the time for college came around, Annika’s parents encouraged her to pursue journalism. Convinced she couldn’t make a living from writing, Annika disagreed. After five years, two degrees, two minors, working with children, being a dancer teacher, and creating a two-and-a-half page resume in college that had interests so all-over-the-place that even she couldn’t make sense of it, Annika finally decided her parents were right. Writing was where her heart was, all along.
In the month before graduate school, the idea Annika had in mind for years finally poured out in the form of the novel, The Rearranged Life. Annika began editing in earnest after she finished her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education, landing Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group as an agent. Three months later, she had a book deal with Curiosity Quills.
In her spare time, Annika loves spending time with her family and friends, often indulging in the three S’s: Starbucks, shopping and superhero movies. As a chocolate lover and general all-around vegetarian foodie, Annika also adores cooking.
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