Yes yes yes!! This was one of the most fun reads I’ve had all year. The fact that there was not only Indian representation but Punjabi representation and not only Punjabi representation but Hindu Punjabi representation made my heart inexplicably happy. It didn’t hurt that the book somehow managed to combine a Crazy Rich Asians style family reveal, a wedding story, a hurricane (right as a hurricane was supposed to hit Long Island), a sister story, and a girl applying to college all into one. It’s not easy to execute all of these things well, and I really enjoyed it, especially the college application aspect because although it wasn’t a major part of the plot, I think that often this is completely ignored in YA books, and as someone who is currently a rising senior, I’m always confused at how characters seem to automatically get into amazing schools without seeming to have spent any time working on their applications.
However, the representation was really brought this up to a five star read for me. The acknowledgment that different areas of India have different cultures and traditions even under a shared identity was special because while I’m very proud of being Indian American and sharing that identity with others, no culture is homogenous and sometimes it feels like people automatically assume that one person’s cultures and traditions must apply to everyone. Because of this, I was really happy with how the book addressed the difficulties in trying to hold a wedding that bridged both Tamil and Panjabi cultures, but also showing how ultimately these difficulties can be bridged by people who care about each other. One other thing that made me smile was how the occasional Punjabi sentence that appeared in the book wasn’t translated into English. This is a tiny thing and might not be something that a reader who does not understand Punjabi would appreciate, but none of it was important to the plot and it felt like secret messages just for those of us who could. I’ve seen this done with other languages, but not any that I’ve fluently understood before, so this was special to me.
Overall a fun read that made me smile and took away a little bit of my college admissions stress! I would definitely recommend this.