Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Book Review: "A Match Made in Mehendi" by Nandini Bajpai

Title: A Match Made in Mehendi
Author: Nandini Bajpai
Genre: YA Contemporary
Page Length: 320 pages
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
Date Started: November 1, 2019
Date Finished: November 12, 2019
Rating: 4 // 5 stars

Fifteen-year-old Simran "Simi" Sangha comes from a long line of Indian vichole-matchmakers-with a rich history for helping parents find good matches for their grown children. When Simi accidentally sets up her cousin and a soon-to-be lawyer, her family is thrilled that she has the "gift."

But Simi is an artist, and she doesn't want to have anything to do with relationships, helicopter parents, and family drama. That is, until she realizes this might be just the thing to improve her and her best friend Noah's social status. Armed with her family's ancient guide to finding love, Simi starts a matchmaking service-via an app, of course.

But when she helps connect a wallflower of a girl with the star of the boys' soccer team, she turns the high school hierarchy topsy-turvy, soon making herself public enemy number one.

*I was sent a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own* 

From the moment I read the synopsis of this book I knew I wanted to read it. Everything about it appealed to me from the idea of a matchmaking app to high school drama. I will be the first to admit I have been out of high school for a few years now and that I haven't really missed it. However, while I was reading this book, I was getting very nostalgic. I kept getting pulled back to those afternoon car rides with my friends and study sessions on the living room floor with a bowl of cookie dough.

The first thing I noticed about this book is how easy it was to fall into the pages and get lost reading it. The writing is very simple yet still produces vivid settings and strong connections to characters. Not only that, but it's so easy to follow that you start reading and get so engrossed that you don't realize you've just read 100 pages. Despite how many days passed between when I started and finished the book, I read it in only two sittings because it was such a fast read.

The drama and high-school angst was great. I've been out of high school for only a few years so I definitely can remember a lot of it and a lot of the things that I went through. I felt as though this book encapsulated a lot of the struggles of teenage girls and just high school in general. Plus, I'm always there for some drama. Even with some of the light drama, this book did deal with some more serious topics such as bullying and being outed against your will. I thought the way the author handled these things was done really well.

The characters were very compelling. I really enjoyed our main character Simi. She's a young girl trying to find a way to fit in high school while struggling with what her family wants for her versus what she wants for herself. Simi is a genuinely nice person who tries to do good and help those around her, but it doesn't always work out for her. I also liked our side characters, though Simi was definitely the main attraction for me with this book.

However, the thing I liked most about this book was getting to see more of Indian culture and desi identity. As a white American, I've never experienced the family dynamics, culture, or functions that Simi does. It was not only eye-opening but also just really enjoyable to get to read about the culture and family dynamics from an own-voices author.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was a fun, fast-paced read that a lot of teen readers will enjoy. I will reiterate that this is a book for teen readers, our main character is young, and the writing voice is aimed at younger audiences so those who enjoy dense adult high fantasy may not find the reading experience to be the same. However, I really liked it and am so grateful that I got the chance to read it. I highly recommend it to all YA contemporary lovers out there!

Trigger warnings: public outing of a character, bullying

Thanks for reading!

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