Welcome to Winnie Mehta’s world of Bollywood films, NYU applications, and a prophecy that may or may not be giving her more problems that she knows what to do with.
What do you do when the prophecy you believed in for so long seems to be breaking? Or, worse, maybe not be true at all? It’s a hard question to tackle with, especially considering how much it means to Winnie and her family.
With a catalog of films to call up for “advice”, Winnie is about to face a lot of questions that she’ll have to answer to live her life as best she can.
Published: 15 May 2018
Publisher: Crown BFYR
Genre(s): Young Adult/Romance/Contemporary
Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soulmate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pundit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her 18th birthday, and Raj meets all of the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked to return from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. Worse, Raj is crowned chair of the student film festival, a spot Winnie was counting on for her film school applications. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted.
Then there’s Dev, a fellow film geek, and one of the few people Winnie can count on to help her reclaim control of her story. Dev is smart, charming, and challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope to find someone she’d pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy, and her chance to live happily ever after? To get her Bollywood-like life on track, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie star.
To start, there were elements of Winnie’s story that I loved, that were warm and flash and that made the story better or enhanced, etc. The variety of films that she’d seen, whether dramas or comedies or more, gave her a support system to look back on. They were something that she and her father shared: a love of Bollywood films. Their playful arguments about modern vs. classic films was interesting and has encouraged me to look into finding some of Winnie’s films to view myself. She, her mother, and her grandmother shopping for fancy clothing was insight into a beautiful aspect of lehengas and jewelry and what it meant to adorn themselves.
With regards to other characters:
It was hard to outright dislike Raj, Winnie’s ex, even though that was the setup when the book opened. As the antagonist (possible a strong word), the reader is given a picture that Winnie’s angry over the end of their relationship & how that relates to the prophecy she was given about her future. Claiming that he cheated was, I felt, a bit of an exaggeration. By her own admission and request they were on a break. She had expected it would take longer to move on, but that’s her “preference”, not Raj’s. So, while she was upset, it was difficult to hate him as much as I think I was “supposed” to going into the narrative.
The author changed my perspective when Raj’s inability to let go, despite his seeming to have moved on with a new girlfriend, became something of an issue that grated on my nerves continually. He couldn’t stand having lost once Winnie started figuring out how to move forward herself.
Clues to future developments were fun to stumble across, guesses that I could make as to plot points that I appreciated. Nisha Sharma didn’t quite smack you across the head with them, though they weren’t exactly in-depth either.
I was pretty upset that most of the boys in Winnie’s life expected her to drop her priorities, her life, to attend to them, to support them. Raj I already pointed out and, oy, he was just the worst (though not without some kind of redemptive arc). However!
With everything she’s had to do to secure her position in life (school, etc.), why should she have to dump these commitments for someone she’s been involved with for such a short period of time? That seemed so absurd to me that I wanted to shake several characters. NYU, the school Winnie has been working toward THE ENTIRE STORY and for YEARS, was so much bigger than certain people. Even though she’s known Dev (Love Interest #2) for a long time, it seems screwed up to throw away the festival, something that could get her into NYU (DREAM SCHOOL), when the connection is so tenuous as a couple of weeks. Sure a boyfriend is nice, but worth all that?
There was a lot to see and experience that was lovely in My So-Called Bollywood Life, but I found some of the narrative decisions questionable and that let the overall experience down for me.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.
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