That Thing About Bollywood

That Thing About Bollywood
Age Range
Release Date
May 18, 2021
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You know how in Bollywood when people are in love, they sing and dance from the mountaintops? Eleven-year-old Sonali wonders if they do the same when they’re breaking up. The truth is, Sonali’s parents don’t get along, and it looks like they might be separating.

Sonali’s little brother, Ronak, is not taking the news well, constantly crying. Sonali would never do that. It’s embarrassing to let out so many feelings, to show the world how not okay you are. But then something strange happens, something magical, maybe. When Sonali gets upset during a field trip, she can’t bury her feelings like usual—instead, she suddenly bursts into a Bollywood song-and-dance routine about why she’s upset!

The next morning, much to her dismay, Sonali’s reality has shifted. Things seem brighter, almost too bright. Her parents have had Bollywood makeovers. Her friends are also breaking out into song and dance. And somehow, everyone is acting as if this is totally normal.

Sonali knows something has gone wrong, and she suspects it has something to do with her own mismanaged emotions. Can she figure it out before it’s too late?

Editor review

1 review
Hooray for Bollywood!
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Sonali misses her grandfather, who ran a video rental store that specialized in Bollywood films, so she enjoys the family movie night that her parents and younger brother Ronak have. These are harder, however, since her parents' fighting has escalated. They constantly bicker, and have ever since Sonali was young. When they decide to separate and "nest" with the kids, taking an apartment and switching weeks at the house, Sonali is somewhat relieved. She doesn't want anyone to know what is going on with her family, which makes it hard to talk to her best friend, Zara, especially since Zara has become friends with Air. Air's parents are film stars, and Zara's goal is to get into movies. Sonali tells her family that she's doing okay, but when she is on a school trip, she suddenly bursts into a Bollywood style song and dance number, with her classmates acting as back up dancers. When Zara tells her that everyone hears a soundtrack and occasionally needs to "solo", Sonali knows something is wrong. Is this magical new world where her whole life has a musical accompaniment caused by her parents' separation? Time and again, Sonali experiences this, sometimes getting in to trouble. (It's okay to break into dance on your way to work or talking to the neighbors; it's not okay to do it in the middle of class.) Zara presses her friend to talk to her, but Sonali wants to keep everything to herself, alienating Zara. Sonali's father wants to keep the separation a secret, the way that an aunt's cancer was kept from the family. It's tough not seeing both of her parents every day, and her mother is concerned that she won't be able to do everything herself, especially since she works long hours as a doctor. As Bollywood causes more and more problems in her life, will Sonali be able to figure out why she is thrust in to this fantasy world, and find a way to make it stop?
Good Points
Statistically, there should be more books about parents who divorce than parents who die. This book does a good job at showing the tension that bickering parents can cause a family. The details of how a family deals with separation and divorce are rarely depicted in literature. This has an added layer of interest with the magical realism of Sonali's new Bollywood reality. I enjoyed the bits of backstory we got about her grandfather, and the interactions with her extended family. The friend drama is always popular. I love the cover!

This was VERY message heavy. Sonali is told again and again that she shouldn't keep things bottled up. The fun part is that she "unbottles" with Bollywood style dances!

An interesting twist with Bollywood for readers who liked Dhami's Bindi Babes,
Bajaj's Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood, Krishnaswami's The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, and fans of magical realism fraught with problems, like Corey Ann Haydu's work. Love this author's Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame, American as Paneer Pie, and Ahimsa.
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