Review of “My So-Called Bollywood Life” by Nisha Sharma

Sharma, Nisha. My So-Called Bollywood Life. New York: Crown, 2018.

Hardcover | $17.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0553523256 | 296 pages | YA Contemporary Romance

4 stars

In the midst of all the madness and disappointment surrounding the announcement of the RITA finalists, one of the bright spots was the inclusion of My So-Called Bollywood Life among the YA finalists. While I had not read the book until now, it seemed like a perfect excuse to finally bump it to the top of my endless TBR.

And it’s a great book, educating the reader about a specific period of Bollywood films, and even if you aren’t necessarily aware of the copious references (I wasn’t), it’s still a fun read highlighting an element of Indian culture that many may know about in passing, but may not be aware of the content of the films themselves.

Winnie is a likable, if flawed heroine. I love her determination to follow her dreams no matter what. And while she does make some stupid decisions, like breaking into an ex’s house and stealing (in her mind taking back) things from him, thinking about it from the mindset of the target audience does kind of put it into perspective.

I also enjoyed how there is a good balance between the acknowledgment of the power of prophecy and fate, and one’s ability to make their own destiny. This leads to a culturally nuanced take on the “getting over an ex and navigating feelings for someone else” plotline that I really enjoyed.

My one major complaint is that, while Bollywood films and film stars play a big role in the plot, the review blog that is set up to be a part of the book in the first pages of the book is almost nonexistent except for the epigraphs reviewing select films that also relate to each chapter’s plot. I’d have liked to see the blog play a bigger role in the story, especially given that Winnie’s Bollywood dreams are otherwise so well emphasized.

On the whole, this was a cute book, and one I’m glad to see in the running for the RITA for Best YA Romance. I would definitely recommend this book to others who love multicultural romance or Bollywood films.

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