When what should have been the love of her life hooks up with another girl, Winnie is shocked that the pandit’s prediction was incorrect. Even though she wasn’t convinced Raj was supposed to be her soulmate, their love was written in the stars. What makes it worse is that Raj is crowned chair of a student film festival, something Winnie was hoping to add to her applications to film school.
As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, she knows this isn’t how her perfect ending is supposed to be. With the help of Dev, a fellow film geek, Winnie reclaims control of her story–especially as she begins to fall for his charm. But does this mean giving up her prophecy and her happily ever after?
This was so much fun!
I love reading diverse contemporaries, but the only problem is that when I read one, I want to read more like it! So being able to read Maurene Goo’s The Way You Make Me Feel and then My So-Called Bollywood Life right after was such a pleasant experience because I got all the feels.
And although diverse romcom contemporaries all have the same vein of fluffy romance + other life problems going on, each is a little different. Although people have compared this to When Dimple Met Rishi (mainly because they both have Indian MCs), I honestly feel like it’s a little closer to Goo’s I Believe in a Thing Called Love because MSCBL is a little more grounded and a little less fluffy than WDMR. Plus, there are so many pop culture references (Korean dramas in IBiaTCL and Bollywood movies in MSCBL) in each that it’s obvious how much more similar these are.
Winnie of course has her own set of romance struggles as she battles with her destiny to find a partner in a boy whose name starts with a letter R and gives her a silver bracelet before her 18th birthday. Yet, the boy that should have been perfect for her ends up being not the one, and Winnie tries to resist destiny and find someone she enjoys being with outside of a prediction.
I love how important destiny vs. resisting destiny was in this novel and reading about Winnie’s journey in accepting destiny, resisting destiny, and [redacted for spoilers] destiny made me think a lot about what it means to be destined to do something, which I really enjoyed.
Plus, the romance is just so cute as Winnie and Dev (the guy she likes) bond and watch movies. Although what happens with the romance is kind of predictable (I totally called it at page 50ish), I still found it to be very cute.
The only thing that I didn’t like which made me take off a half star was Jenny, the girl Winnie’s ex-boyfriend cheated on her with.
Jenny felt really flat and I wish she got a tiny redemption arc in this story. She does some bad things and acts super possessive over Raj and frames people and felt almost like a caricature of a mean girl, to me.
I wish there was more layers to Jenny because she was probably the least realistic character in the whole novel because of how flat she was. Her entire role was to play the jealous other woman and to cause a ruckus for Winnie, and I wish they had made up.
Other than this, I really enjoyed the book. It was an easy and quick read that made me laugh and swoon and sigh with contentment.
Plus, there are so many cultural references in it which was really nice to see, and Sharma doesn’t take the time to explain it all to us, which I actually really appreciated. She references different aspects of Indian culture and doesn’t really go into what they are/mean, but I appreciated her not explaining this because 1) I grasped the meaning from context and 2) she shouldn’t have to explain everything to us.
I am not obligated to educate ignorant people about my culture, and neither is Sharma. If you don’t know what it means, go look it up. It’s not a made up word like in a fantasy novel where it’s probably best to include a glossary–it’s part of someone’s culture and so seeing Sharma refuse to baby us through her culture was really nice.
In the same vein, I really liked how Winnie was very accepting about her culture. This is something I love about her and seeing Winnie respect and love the Indian part of herself was really great. This is definitely something I want to see a lot more of in YA because a lot of times the cultural struggle that is portrayed is resisting your own culture to do so-and-so, and I want to see more of having both culture and dreams without the need for a struggle.
Although this is a little predictable, it’s an overall very fun read and I liked how many cultural connections Winnie made between her life and Bollywood movies. I would totally recommend this to anyone looking for a fun, light, contemporary romantic comedy type read. If you loved any of Sandhya Menon or Maurene Goo’s books, I definitely recommend you check this out!
My So-Called Bollywood Life comes out on May 15th! You can preorder now & get some awesome preorder incentives (find them here) or you can find it at any major bookseller on the 15th!
Thank you so much to Crown Books/Random House and Nisha Sharma for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!