Source: Own (Book Outlet)
Genres: YA, Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: HarperCollins: HarperTeen
Publication date: January 17th 2012
I bought this book after Book Riot recommended it in their South Asian YA: 5 titles to read post. It had a very nice premise; a whole family moving from India to the States, the elder girl has been engaged since she was 3 years old and dealing in general with being a teenager. The book does all this things but I was disappointed with the end.
Shalini is the main character of this book and she is telling the story of how her father found a new job in Los Angeles. As a dutiful daughter, she acts exited and supportive, but the truth is that she is not that thrilled of leaving everything she knew behind, including Vikram her fiancé. Arriving to LA and learning a whole different culture would be hard enough on her, but as it turns out her mother isn't taking the move so well and soon Shalini is taking care of the household, trying to deal with bullies in her class and, for the first time in her life, questioning what for so long was supposed to be her life plan with Vikram, even more so, when Toby comes to the picture.
There are a lot of things I liked about this book and they are all related to Shalini and her family being in foreign land. The amusement of finding a place that sells the food you grew up with; the sort of challenge of explaining to others things that you've grown accustomed to; the fear of changing and losing your roots and at the same time, of not changing and losing your mind. All of these things are so real when you leave your comfort and yet they are so great to help you grow as a person.
Shalini's mom goes into a deep depression due to this move; her father tries to work hard but is afraid of what might have come of his family. Her little sister on the other hand, seems to adapt very well to her new life. All of these perspectives made the book even more enjoyable.
However it was the love story that made me hesitant to give this book a 4...for most of the book the only love interest is Vikram, and while I was interested in the idea of Shalini questioning this relationship now that they were no longer together all the time I wish it wouldn't because another boy. This made her look like a girl whose decisions revolve solely around boys and I can't like that, sorry. I think I would've rather her questioning the whole idea of being engage at 3 when being exposed to other views; if at the end of it all she felt that this was what made her happy, great! It is not? also great.
And then we have the ending. Don't worry; I will not give away spoilers. All I can say is that it felt extremely abrupt and rushed. What is worst, it felt like there was not conclusion at all. I still gave it a 4 because going to it gave me what it promised. To quote Book Riot: This is great because there aren’t a lot of South Asian YA novels that deal with this transitional period, coming to the United States as a teenager and trying to figure things out.