Featured Review: A Match Made in Mehendi (Nandini Bajpai)
About This Book:
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.
*Review Contributed By Olivia Farr Staff Reviewer*
A MATCH MADE IN MEHENDI is a light-hearted contemporary romance. Simi aspires to be an artist, but right now, she's a sophomore in high school, trying to navigate her way through family expectations, high school difficulties, and finding her own style. Simi and her brother, Navdeep, come from a long line of matchmakers. As Simi has grown up learning, this is an important role, but it isn't one she really sees herself in.
When she is furniture shopping with her relatives, she notices a connection between her cousin and a man working there, sparking a match. Delighted at her skill, her mother and aunt try to pull her into the family business. After spending a little time with them, she notices the way that the process could be somewhat replicated by an algorithm, and with her engineering-skilled brother and best friend, Noah, they create an app for the high school called Matched! that will give a personality quiz with specially designed questions and then create matches between students.
The app is a huge success, but soon, Simi is under fire by a popular girl who has tormented her in the past because things are not going the way she wants. At the same time, Simi is navigating family expectations and her own quest for romantic connections.
This was a very quick and breezy read that is more romantic comedy than anything else. However, it does lightly tackle some big things such a bullying, being a racial/LGBT minority, and white privilege, as well as general high school concerns (e.g. 'tattling'). I think these were actually the most interesting parts of the book, particularly a few scenes where Simi's mother goes to bat for her against the injustice of the way the school is treating her vs. a white student. The messages are somewhat subtle, but powerful.
Simi will appeal to a younger crowd (the book could also be appropriate for older middle grade readers), and she's an intriguing character. Add that to the other characters who feature, and it's a cute read. I would have liked to see more of Noah's personality/life in the book as well as to go deeper into Simi's family. She certainly notes some sexism in expectations of her vs. her brother (for instance with furniture shopping) and her father is almost non-existent. It would have been interesting to address this further in the book also.
Overall a sweet and fun romantic comedy, this is a great book to take on vacation and enjoy. With some interesting themes and a very cute premise, this is a light-hearted read that appeals to a broad audience.
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