Do You Believe in Destiny?
Bollywood film fanatic Winnie Mehta has grown up convinces her future is written in the stars. Her family’s pandit predicted she would find the love of her life before she turned eighteen and her boyfriend Raj ticks all the boxes. So when the pair break up just months before her eighteenth birthday, Winnie is lost.
Then fellow film geek Dev challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope for her own happily ever after and take the future into her own hands. With a little help from family, friends and a Bollywood movie star, Winnie is about to discover that you can’t live life by the script.
About the Author
Nisha Sharma grew up in Northeast Pennsylvania immersed in Bollywood movies, ‘80s pop culture, and romance novels, so it is no surprise that her first young adult novel, My So-Called Bollywood Life, features all three.
The concept for the novel came to Nisha when she moved to New Jersey after law school, and a few years later, she completed the story as part of her MA thesis. Nisha was fortunate enough to receive feedback on film culture in the book from directors and producers such as Susan Catsonis (Storefront Pictures) and Gironde Chadha (Bend It films).
Nisha credits her father for her multiple graduate degrees, and her mother for her love of Shah Rukh Khan and Jane Austen. She lives in New Jersey with her cat, Lizzie Bennett, and her dog, Nancey Drew.
What I Thought
This was a really fun read and one I can totally see being filmed in the vein of She’s All That and similar high school movies.
I am somewhat ashamed to admit I have never seen a whole Bollywood movie! I’ve seen snippets and think I understand the general gist. Melodrama, melodrama and some singing. I’m not sure if the title is a reference to the 90s TV show My So-Called Life (which I loved by the way) but I definitely saw echoes of Angela in Winnie.
Winnie is a Bollywood fan girl and each chapter begins with a short blog review of a film that sort of links in with what is going to happen. Not being familiar with the films some of these didn’t work for me but I found it interesting that at the back of the book there was more of a synopsis for reference (I wonder if they were initially with the chapters but omitted?). There were also references to other non-Bollywood films which weren’t given the same treatment (luckily for me I was more familiar with those). There are also dream sequences with one Shah Rukh Khan (a real actor in case like me you didn’t know). Those who aren’t movie buffs might miss out on a few references in that case. Although I’ve certainly been given an excuse to see add a few more films to my TWL!
I’m just going to pause here to point out that a few reviews I’ve read say that Winnie is unlikeable. I agree a few of the things she does are questionable but it worries me that YA characters (females in particular) seem to have to be totally politically correct in their views to be seen as likeable. Especially when not liking the character is cited as the main reason for not liking a book.
Winnie even refers to her own behaviour as like Reese Witherspoon’s character in Election so I think she shows insight into some of the situations in which she doesn’t behave perfectly. She’s 17 – I’m 40 and I’m still learning. I do remember being a teenage girl and girls can be mean to those people who aren’t their friends – crikey even to their friends. The teasing and poking fun occasionally goes too far.
There also just seems to be an inability to suspend disbelief and just have fun when reading stories, and this story is huge fun. Yes discuss books critically but not to the extent where you snap their spines and leave them unreadable.
I like to fully immerse myself in a story and take it in as a whole before trying to take it apart. It’s why reviews take me so long to write as I don’t often make notes so have to flick back. My views can fluctuate but I usually get an overall view of how much I’ve enjoyed it/learnt from it etc. It’s why I don’t put numbers to my reviews here anymore and will find myself re-rating books on a re-read. Where you are at personally when you read affects how you respond.
Sorry. Diverted by that but I felt it was important to highlight. Back to MSCBL.
This was very clearly a romance and there were definite swoon worthy moments. I did guess at something quite early on but as ever I enjoyed seeing when characters would catch up, and what would happen when they did. And the responses did surprise me.
I liked the focus on family and friendship too. I was really interested by the emphasis put on birth charts and horoscopes in Indian culture – it was useful to see differing views on this from those within the same culture.
I think Winnie realises it isn’t straightforward to follow destiny, or even realise what it is at times. One event had me telling the book characters off in no uncertain terms. They didn’t listen to me, but the very end bought a huge grin to my face. Romantic gestures don’t always work out like they do in the movies. 😂 🍨
Fans of Happy Girl Lucky by Holly Smale and It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne will enjoy this Bollywood take on the movie obsessed teen romance story.
Thanks to Faye and Jess at Darkroom Tours and the publisher Stripes for the copy and paper hearts I was gifted for the purposes of the bookstagram tour and an honest review.
Just like writing, reading can feel like a very solitary experience. If you are anything like me, when you get to the end of a book, you probably have all sorts of thoughts and feelings that you want to discuss with someone. Short of persuading all of your friends to read the book where do you go?
Online of course
Book Vlogging – YouTube
Bookish Images – Instagram using the #bookstagram
Book Reviews – Goodreads and Litsy
Chats and Groups – Twitter and Facebook and Goodreads
A few examples of teen bloggers
I curated a small list of YA bloggers who are teens that you can follow on twitter. https://mobile.twitter.com/kirstyes/lists/uk-teen-book-bloggers
The Mile Long Bookshelf aka Amber Kirk-Ford is a book blogger and vlogger who has written for the Guardian and Penguin Books Blog.
Queen of Contemporary/@LucyTheReader AKA Lucy Powrie is also a book blogger and vlogger who set up the hugely successful twitter chat using the hashtag #ukyachat
How to be a good blogger by Jenny in Neverland. This popped up on my twitter timeline this morning and I had to share because it just says what I wanted to say.
How to review
Uses a 5 star rating system
1 star – didn’t like it
2 stars – it was ok
3 stars – liked it
4 stars – really liked it
5 stars – it was amazing
But. Everyone uses it differently and you can create your own rating system on your blog. Or you don’t have to rate at all. I use half stars and I generally round down not up.
Find your own style
Activity – post it note review
Activity – Instagram pictures
Activity – Features and Challenges
Side note about safety
Note most online forums require you to be 13 to use.
Remember that anything you say online can always be found.
Be cautious – occasionally people aren’t who they say they are. If you ever arrange to meet with someone who you have met online don’t go alone and tell someone.
Side note about your TBR and budget
Joining the online book community will exponentially increase the size of your TBR piles and see you wanting to spend more money than you have. Join a library. Budget. Ask for Bookish goodies for gifts.
If you do prefer to meet up with people in real life make sure to follow your favourite bookshops and check out events they might host. Waterstones will be hosting a whole range of YA author events over the summer.
Every summer there is now a Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) as part of London Film and Comic Con (LFCC). This year it runs from Friday 28th – Sunday 30th July and there will be around 90 authors in attendance. There are author panels, signings, workshops, stands, cosplay and just generally hanging around with fellow book worms.
Activity – Q&A e.g. Picking a platform, setting up a blog, interacting with authors and others, ARCs etc.