Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)
*I received a copy via the publisher in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*
Winnie Mehta dreams of getting her Bollywood forever after. For her, everything was perfect. Her life was going according to the words of her family pandit, who swore Winnie would find the love of her life, whose name starts with R, before her 18th birthday. And suddenly, everything is going wrong. Her boyfriend Raj had cheated on her. She’s lost her chair position in the film festival, lowering her chances of getting into film school. Winnie decides to look her prophecy differently, begins taking control of her destiny, in any way possible.
It’s always disappointing not to like a book that you really wanted to enjoy.
The incorporation of desi culture was a significant plus — a primary desi cast who are unapologetic in being immersed in their culture. I really enjoyed the Bollywood reference and how accepting Winnie is of her culture. She doesn’t shy away from what she likes, and I really enjoyed that she was outwardly accepting. I also really liked the dichotomy between accepting vs resisting destiny. While she doesn’t outright ignore the destiny after it stops going her way, she continues on. She’s very headstrong and hilarious for much of the novel. Her interest in movies reminds me a lot of myself when I was younger.
Dev was a sweetest love interest. He gets done so dirty all because he wanted to be with Winnie. It’s nice to read a romance where the boy is charming and tries really hard to make the relationship work.
But Winnie alone couldn’t carry this book, and I even found myself getting rather frustrated with her and the book in general. It mainly revolves around Winnie and her romance and doesn’t really move on from there. Anything she says or does come straight back to the romance. She spends her entire time trying to decide which boy she should choose. Winnie doesn’t talk about anything else but boys with her friends, who tell her to select romance over her education. She’s angrier at the girl his boyfriend cheated on her, than, you know, the boyfriend who cheated on her. Her future is somehow at stake because of boys. (Honestly, the way no one told Winnie: “hey maybe you shouldn’t depend your future on two boys” and some were actively persuading her to choose boys over her university application was worrying) Also, I really despise books where the female characters claim they’re not like other girls and are strong and independent but rarely show that in writing.
I would say the dramatic elements were both a pro and a con. It was funny and entertaining at first, but that plot twist was so highly predictable, and I don’t get why everyone reacted so dramatically. I wouldn’t want to spoil the book, but it was painfully obvious. Also, the Shah Rukh Khan dream sequences were just weird. I don’t even know how I felt about those scenes.
Overall, I see the appeal to this story; I have to admit. In the end, it wasn’t for me. But I would recommend if you’re looking for a quick, Bollywood-inspired contemporary read.