Hieee! Welcome to Rhea’s Neon Journal! I’m so excited to be one of the people to have read Annika Sharma’s The Rearranged Life because it is simply FABULOUS! You can read my thoughts and enter the giveaway too! Follow the rest of the tour here 😀
Nithya, a vivacious, intelligent and driven college senior has always known what she has wanted: a successful career in medicine and the love of her family. She’s even come to terms with the idea of an arranged marriage, a tradition her conservative Indian family has held up for thousands of years.
When a night of partying puts her on a collision course with danger, Nithya’s entire life changes.
Enter James St. Clair, the smart, challenging and heartbreakingly handsome American. As Nithya and James fall in love, she questions the future she and her parents have always planned.
Now, Nithya has a choice to make: become a doctor and a good Indian bride, or step away from her family and centuries of culture to forge her own path. The decision she comes to takes her on a journey that transforms how she sees her future, her relationships with loved ones, and how she learns to put herself back together when even her best-laid plans fall apart.
“We have to be as Indian as the people in India and as American as the Americans. We can’t win.”
The Rearranged Life follows the most trying time in the life of Nithya, an Indian by heritage living in the United States. Where this story is a romance, I’d like to bring more emphasis on how this book is about coming of age and growing into yourself.
Nithya, a medicine student, has never bothered about her parents’ and her community’s wishes for all Indian girls to marry “appropriate” Indian boys. But when she starts to fall in love with James St. Clair, she’s wondering whether these customs make any sense at all. And if they do, then is it worth going against them?
As a character, I really liked Nithya. I wouldn’t say I connected with her—my situation at home and hers is not the same AT ALL—but I can understand where she comes from. Especially since I’ve seen our communities pushing arranged marriages like, A LOT. I understood the reasons behind some of the decisions she took.
Again, her parents too I didn’t completely agree with, but I understood them. They weren’t trying to be backward or old-fashioned, it’s just the way it is in India. It was great to see that Annika Sharma got that too. She understood the intentions of Nithya’s parents and not once did I see them in a negative light. We’re set in our ways and all it would take for a broader mindset is the effort it takes to keep an open mind. I think The Rearranged Life is basically more about Nithya’s relationship with her parents, the shifting dynamic there as they realise she’s not just a little girl anymore, and as she realises that sometimes, even parents make mistakes.
I loved Nithya’s friends and family members! James seemed like the perfect counterpart to Nithya—where she was always agitated, he was calm. Where she tended to have neurotic freak-outs, he helped keep her same. I did feel like there was a bit of instal-love with them, though. The book focused so much on Nithya and her fear of upsetting her parents, that there wasn’t too much emphasis on James and Nithya’s relationship. I’d have liked to see a bit more of that. Sophia and Luca were great support systems to Nithya—something I feel she definitely needed!
As far as the writing goes, I couldn’t tell that it was Annika Sharma’s debut book. She captures the essence of being a legal alien perfectly—the pressure and the stress—and with Nithya’s character being under the most stressful time of her life, the writing felt spectacular! Doesn’t matter what country you hail from—you should definitely read this one 🙂
- Contest open until June 9th, 2015.
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Up for Grabs!
- $25 Starbucks Gift Card
Annika Sharma was born in India and moved to the United States (Pennsylvania!) when she was a baby. Annika was a daydreamer from day one, always coming up with stories and games of pretend that seemed real. She was a serious journal-writer from fifth grade to college and wrote dramatic scenes for stories often, inspired by soap operas she watched in summers off from school.
Eventually, when the time for college came around, Annika’s parents encouraged her to pursue journalism. Convinced she couldn’t make a living from writing, Annika disagreed. After five years, two degrees, two minors, working with children, being a dancer teacher, and creating a two-and-a-half page resume in college that had interests so all-over-the-place that even she couldn’t make sense of it, Annika finally decided her parents were right. Writing was where her heart was, all along.
In the month before graduate school, the idea Annika had in mind for years finally poured out in the form of the novel, The Rearranged Life. Annika began editing in earnest after she finished her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education, landing Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group as an agent. Three months later, she had a book deal with Curiosity Quills.
In her spare time, Annika loves spending time with her family and friends, often indulging in the three S’s: Starbucks, shopping and superhero movies. As a chocolate lover and general all-around vegetarian foodie, Annika also adores cooking.