Thank you so much to Lonely Pages Book Tours, as well as the author and publisher for giving me a copy of ‘Sister of the Bollywood Bride’ in exchange for an unbiased, and honest review!! This is my stop for the tour, and you can click the banner below to view the full schedule, and explore other posts!!
Title: Sister of the Bollywood Bride
Author: Nandini Bajpai
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Young Adult Romance
Publication Date: May 25, 2021
Final Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis (via Goodreads):
For fans of Morgan Matson’s Save the Date comes a charming novel about one teen’s summer tackling disasters including, but not limited to, family, romance, and weather—as she plans her sister’s Bollywood-style Indian wedding.
Mini’s big sister, Vinnie, is getting married. Their mom passed away seven years ago and between Dad’s new start-up and Vinnie’s medical residency, there’s no one but Mini to plan the wedding. Dad raised her to know more about computers, calculus, and cars than desi weddings but from the moment Mini held the jewelry Mom left them, she wanted her sister to have the wedding Mom would’ve planned.
Now Mini has only two months to get it done and she’s not going to let anything distract her, not even the persistent, mysterious, and smoking-hot Vir Mirchandani. Flower garlands, decorations, music, even a white wedding horse—everything is in place.
That is, until a monster hurricane heads for Boston that could ruin everything. Will Mini come through as sister of the bride and save the day?
I can’t remember the last time I read a contemporary novel, and actually felt seen. Of course, I’ve read books with brown protagonists (Counting Down With You, and The Henna Wars), that I’ve identified with, but you could count the amount of books that I’ve actually felt represented in, on one hand.
Although the book followed an Indian-American teen, and I’m completely Indian, the little things, like seeing the city I live in, and the customs my grandparents follow in the pages of a book, meant the absolute world to me. The amount of times I saw Mumbai mentioned made my heart full – and then I saw events that took place here, and I was squealing, and my brain was just omg, yes! I live there, I went there last year! For the first time, I just felt SEEN, and that just made me so happy, and filled my heart with joy. Seeing how both the love interest and his dad went to Mayo had me so excited, because even MY dad and his brothers went there. Hearing about aunts that work in Bollywood, and Massi’s that sell jewelry also just hit so close to home.
Although I connected more to the love interest than the main character, reading a book about people that looked like me, and had the same problem as me, just made my problems feel valid. I loved that in this book, there were never had any “token” characters of color, and no character followed any stereotypical behaviour – because no, we’re not all the same! Having so many aspects I identified with in a book was unexpected – in the absolute best way possible.
Not only did I resonate with the characters in this book, it was also just a lot of fun to read. It was centered around a big fat desi wedding (and desi weddings are hands-down the best so)… Even though I’m only 1/2 Punjabi, and I’m 1/2 Hindu, seeing my culture in the book made me feel so special, because, yes, there’s SO much more to India than just the food, the clothes, and Bollywood (which is why we need more #OwnVoices authors)! With chatty, gossipy aunties, and precious banter, Sister of the Bollywood Bride had me perpetually feeling like this 🥺🤍!
Although, yes, I loved most aspects of this book, I did have a few problems! I’m not a huge fan of the miscommunication trope, but when it’s executed well, I have absolutely no problem with it. However, the miscommunication trope in this one annoyed me – and it was practically just the main character overreacting for no reason! I’m going to try and be very vague here so I don’t spoil anything – but when the miscommunication takes place, Mini, the main character, acts very childishly, and does everything to NOT speak to the love interest and solve the problem, which really irritated me.
The book also has a huge emphasis on Bollywood, and while it does cover that Bollywood is not the only thing about India, I found it unnecessary to be calling it a “Bollywood” wedding, or “Bollywood” bride. There are so many beautiful things about our country, and I wish we got more books based in India talking about things other than trauma, or Bollywood!
This is not necessarily an issue I had with the book, because I understand that the audience of the book would be Indian-Americans than just Indians, and it’s more of a personal preference – but – there was a huge focus on religion in the book, and how it was impacting the main character and her sister. In my school, and within my family, as well as 95% of my friends, almost none of us are religious, and are non-practicing. I think if we’re going to talk about our generation – almost all the students in our school (which is huge – 15 grade levels from Preschool to Grade 12, all with 120 students per grade) – almost all of us have English as our first languages, and though we know Hindi, and bits of the languages we studied in school, like French, or Spanish, English is still our first language. If, in India, or Mumbai where I live, we’re not religious, at like all, then I guess I just didn’t really understand why people were being so religious in America, where obviously after a while, you grow used to Westernized customs, and your own habits and requirements change.
Yes, of course, my grandparents are religious, and a few of my friends parents are too, but in our generation, practically no one is. Every household has different rules, and different ways of going about things, but a LOT of people in the book were really religious, so I just found it a bit unusual.
A hilarious, resonant, and fluffy contemporary, Sister of the Bollywood Bride is a beautiful novel that hit extremely close to home. A book that celebrates Indian culture, it’s also something that shows us that there’s so much more to India as a country than what most people think. Seeing little references, and customs I identified filled my heart with joy, and I’ll definitely be re-reading this one soon. Although the miscommunication trope was executed poorly, and there was an unnecessary focus on Bollywood, the story had me laughing, swooning and crying all at once. Sister of the Bollywood Bride is a solid book I loved reading, and I would readily recommend it to anyone looking for a light, fun read.
About the Author
Nandini Bajpai grew up in New Delhi, India, one of four sisters and many cousins, in a family that liked to read.
She lived and worked in India, Australia, and the US, before settling in the Boston area with her husband, kids, and a fluctuating number and variety of pets. Although she dabbled in corporate finance, business analysis, and fostering shelter animals, her first love is writing.