Lovetorn by Kavita Daswani
"Can you find love when you think you already have it?
Shalini is new to L.A. Not new like from New York City new—or even Kansas new. New like from India new. And in the U.S., she has it all wrong: the way she dresses, the way she talks, the way she wears her hair. And then there is the ring, which makes her way different from everyone else—because Shalini has been engaged since she was three to Vikram, back in India.
Shalini’s life has been turned upside down. She doesn’t fit in, her mom is depressed, and email is no substitute for being with Vikram.
But when she meets Toby at school, Shalini’s heart gets turned upside down, too. Just looking at Toby makes her stomach flutter. She thinks she loves Vikram, but he never made her feel like this.
In Lovetorn, Shalini discovers that your heart ultimately makes its own choices, even when it seems as if your destiny has already been chosen."- summary from Amazon
This book was really interesting; I don't think I've ever read a book from an Indian's point of view. I thought the author did a great job writing Shalini's character and incorporating the Indian culture, including the arranged marriage (though, like it says in the book, that's not really done much now and is part of an older culture). Because of my unfamiliarity, this story was a breath of fresh air. I really liked Shalini's voice and she made the book fun to read. I feel like I didn't put it down all that often because I was interested to see what Shalini would be experiencing next now that she was in America.
I also really liked Daswani's inclusion of depression in the storyline and it rang true. I can only imagine what it's like to be uprooted from your home country and plopped down in another so far away, especially when you no choice in the matter. Daswani did a great job including it in the storyline and giving the mother a journey of her own to go through, along with the rest of the family's reactions and concerns to it.
I had a bit of a problem with the romance aspect of the book. We barely see Shalini with either boy, and so I never really got a connection with either one. Both boys were nice, but there wasn't much screen time for either. Vikram is only heard from through phone and email every so often, and Toby doesn't come into the story until halfway through the novel. So I didn't really buy that Shalini was in love with him. I think one of the problems regarding that was because the timeline was over a couple months, but it was crammed into 100 pages so it felt rushed to me.
Overall though, a promising debut and it is a cute book with some depth to it. I'd suggest a library read. Plus, yay for people of color on and in books! :)
FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.