Copyright 2012, HarperTeen
Release Set For: January 17, 2012
(Click Title for the Barnes and Noble Order page!)
Shalini has lived in her home in India with her 37 relatives all of her life. When she was 3 she was betrothed to her fathers best friend's son, Vikram. Unlike you might imagine, she is thrilled with the decision. She loves knowing that he is hers and they will be married and live a long and happy life together. When her fathers job moves her immediate family to America, the loss of Vikram is heartbreaking. More than the heartbreak of missing him is how lonely and sad she is in a strange culture in a strange school, where no one is taking to her. The whispers, giggles and jokes hurt but she resigns to stay strong for her family. Shalini's little sister is taking to America like a fish in water, her father loves it here and her mother is in a state of deep depression - all Shalini can do is hold on and pray that it gets better.
And boy, does it. Shalini takes advice from a new friend, Renuka, and finds herself joining a club that intends to raise money to help women in other countries. Part of her duties there, are to correspond between the club and their biggest fundraising's chairman, Toby. Despite the amount of love she has for Vikram, Shalini can't help but feel something for Toby and although she tells herself it's a silly crush and he'd never feel for her that way she wishes he would.
Is the betrothal and "knowing" she loves Vikram enough to keep them together while their nine thousand miles apart or was it so, only because they only knew each other?
Daswani did a wonderful job brining a young Indian girl to LA and helping us to see all of the changes that she would go through and all of the challenges that, being born here, most of us wouldn't think twice about. Walking unchaperoned with a boy, for instance, constitues a huge step in the immersion she's feeling to our American culture. To me, it was always just an excuse to walk with a boy and hope he kissed me : )
The story reads easily, I finished it in one sitting, and the characters are lifelike and lovable. As much as I enjoyed reading about Shalini's culture and the way Toby got under her skin, I feel like something was missing. Toby has it all and he's a genuinely nice guy, to boot. Maybe it was Vikram? Maybe it was my hoping that Shalini and her mom would have a long heart to heart? I'm a big one for talking, I like characters that express themselves and aren't afraid to say what's on their minds and while Shalini does do this, there are times that I feel she should have yet didn't. All in all, it was a very enjoyable read and I really valued the glimpse into a culture I know admittedly little about!
Make sure you pick this one up and shoot me your thoughts!