Author: Kavita Daswani
Publisher: HarperCollins (January 17, 2011)
Source: ATW ARC Tours
When Shalini’s father gets a new job in L.A., she is torn away from her life in India and the boy to whom she’s been betrothed since she was three. L.A. is so different, and Shalini dresses and talks all wrong. She isn’t sure she’ll survive high school in America without her fiancé, Vikram, and now she has to cope with her mom’s homesickness and depression. A new friend, chill and confident Renuka, helps Shalini find her way and get up the courage to join the Food4Life club at school. But she gets more than just a friend when she meets Toby—she gets a major crush. Shalini thinks she loves Vikram, but he never made her feel like this.
In Lovetorn, Shalini discovers that your heart ultimately makes its own choices, even when it seems as if your destiny has already been chosen.
Author Kavita Daswani has always been fascinated by child marriages and betrothals, and this story of a traditional girl from India, who is exposed to so many more freedoms and experiences after being dropped in a completely alien culture, is a fresh and contemporary look at the subject.
I became interested in reading Lovetorn by Kavita Daswani because of the multicultural aspect. I love reading about other cultures and I think it's important to have more YA books on the market that incorporate diverse characters. For that reason, I was super excited to read Lovetorn. Unfortunately, I wasn't completely satisfied with it. It has some great aspects, but overall, I wanted a little more.
I'll discuss the good points first. The multicultural aspect was very well done. I have basic knowledge of some Indian customs and culture, but this book provided a lot more information without sounding like a tutorial. I thought the storyline itself was an interesting idea. An Indian teenage girl who is already engaged moves to America and begins to wonder about her future and her options. This seems natural and plays out organically. Her relationships with friends, family, and loved ones change at a reasonable pace.
I also appreciated how Daswani describes the reactions to the move of all family members. Each member has a different experience transitioning, and I think they are all reasonable given the circumstances and ages of each person. They all go through a journey which impacts each other. Unlike some other YA novels, each family member is important to the plot and overall story. No Disappearing Parent Syndrome here.
Clearly, there's lots of good stuff in this novel. Unfortunately, there were also aspects I didn't like. First, I thought some of the relationships between the smaller characters developed unrealistically. While changes in the family members were gradual and organic, the friendships, social enemies, and crush relationships did not develop at a natural pace (in my opinion). This might sound strange, but the characters turned out too nice. Even the mean girls, who were really mean, came out sounding too nice by the end. The crush was the most realistic in my view.
Second, I didn't know who to root for. Maybe it's just me, but when there's going to be some kind of love triangle, I like to know who I should be rooting for and the reasons why. I had a sense that maybe I should root for the new guy because he's a new guy, but I really liked what I'd read about Vikram. Part of me really wanted her to stay with him, even though I wasn't sure how that would turn out. This is purely personal preference, so it may not bother other readers.
Third, and this is really, really nitpicky, there was misinformation about the psychologist. Psychologists can't prescribe medications. Psychiatrists can. This very small distinction bothers me purely because it's a common misconception and I'm in the field of psychology. By all means, this did not ruin the book for me, but it is irritating when the facts aren't right.
So, overall, Lovetorn was an enjoyable read. I just wish I'd gotten a little more from the novel. It's definitely worth the read, especially if you're interested in reading about other cultures.
Final thoughts: Borrow.