A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on September 10, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Young Adult, Young Adult Contemporary
Length: 320 pages Source: BookCon 2019
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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.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookCon 2019 and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
A Match Made in Mehendi is such a delightful little contemporary romance, and I am here to SHOUT about it.
First of all, as this is an #OwnVoices book, it’s important to mention that the cultural experiences Nandini Bajpai relays in this novel may not necessarily mirror the experience of an #OwnVoices reader. As I am a white girl, I’m really not equipped to talk about the rep with any real authority, but for myself I was so excited to see terms like “Desi” and “auntie” used regularly. Honestly? We need to normalize the inclusion of other cultures and books like A Match Made in Mehendi and Not the Girls You’re Looking For make me so excited for what YA is going to come up with next!
So first of all, this is a very light read. It’s been perfect in as far as the characters are layered and the story is good, but I really just needed to step back from all the mental health and feminist messages for a hot second and refresh my cynical heart. There’s meet cute all over the place and it’s adorable. And there’s a straight out mean girl who is projecting, yeah, but she’s just a really good, properly dislikable villain. There were characters that I kept waiting for more from, like Aiden? I SO expected he was going to play more into the events in the second half of the book. But everything going on kept me wrapped up and I really liked it.
Most of all, I liked how everything was so important to Simi. Her art, her family, her future, her friends. Nothing she did was halfway. She had so much passion and love for people and there was a lot of genuine-feeling emotion in this book. I really loved that. Simi Sangha is a nice girl who tries to do what’s best for the people she cares about, who believes in herself, and is flawed enough to be selfish and petty sometimes. She’s such a beautifully crafted character for a contemporary, and a reminder that characters (and people) don’t need to have a battle cry to be wonderful.
A Match Made in Mehendi is a story about matchmaking and believing in your self and sticking to your truth, no matter how difficult it seems. There was so much loyalty in these pages: loyalty to ones self, loyalty to ones art, ones friends, ones family… the faith and struggle may seem like a simple storyline when so many contemporaries are tackling racism and sexism and homophobia and gender identity. But what about all those lovely books about friendship? This is one of them. And all those other things? They’re important too. The main character is a minority, several characters in the book are gay, and there’s even brief discussion about an interracial couple. There’s also conversation about minority couples from different religions coming together. Everything appears told very respectfully and beautifully.
Honestly I just… I really liked this book? I went in with zero expectations and I found myself picking it up at odd moments to read a chapter because I really liked Simi and I wanted to her to find happiness. A Match Made in Mehendi may not be a literary masterpiece, but it’s a book that will make you warm and fuzzy inside.
A Match Made in Mehendi stays on the shelf!
Oh, I’m definitely going to read this again.
This was one of those books that made me, simply put, happy. Books that draw you in like an old friend are exactly the ones made to read and reread. I am so grateful to the folks at NOVL and Hatchette for this book, because honestly… it wasn’t on my radar at all. I don’t know if any of my Goodreads friends even have it on their TBRs. But I really liked it.
Also, this is a signed ARC, and that makes me extra happy inside as well. Signed ARCs of books I loved are one of the few types of ARCs I don’t tend to give away. They become instantly precious to me, as selfish as that may seem.
Do you like meet cute romances? I think that if I read too many of them, I wouldn’t like them so much… but right now there are such rom com vibes and they make me so happy. What about you?