ARC Review: My Sister’s Big Fat Indian Wedding by Sajni Patel

A fresh, witty rom-com romp set against the backdrop of a high-profile music competition and a riotous Indian wedding

Zurika Damani is a naturally gifted violinist with a particular love for hip hop beats. But when you’re part of a big Indian family, everyone has expectations, and those certainly don’t include hip hop violin. After being rejected by Juilliard, Zuri’s last hope is a contest judged by a panel of top tier college scouts. The only problem? This coveted competition happens to take place during Zuri’s sister’s extravagant wedding week. And Zuri has already been warned, repeatedly, that she is not to miss a single moment.

In the midst of the chaos, Zuri’s mom is in matchmaking mode with the groom’s South African cousin Naveen—who just happens to be a cocky vocalist set on stealing Zuri’s spotlight at the scouting competition. Luckily Zuri has a crew of loud and loyal female cousins cheering her on. Now, all she has to do is to wow the judges for a top spot, evade getting caught by her parents, resist Naveen’s charms, and, oh yeah . . . not mess up her sister’s big fat Indian wedding. What could possibly go wrong? 

I’ve probably read two YA contemporary novels in the past two years, which includes this current one. I just feel disconnected with the age group and have decided not to read them rather than not like them. But I couldn’t resist this book because that’s a lovely cover and who can say no to a full on desi wedding extravaganza. And I was not disappointed.

I can’t say I enjoyed my wedding because I was hardly involved in any aspect of it and it was such a tiring day that I don’t even like remembering it much. But reading or watching desi weddings play out like huge parties is always super fun and the author commits to it fully. Spanning only about 8-9 days, this book is fast paced and reads like a breeze but captures the chaotic and colorful atmosphere of our weddings perfectly. The pujas, the rituals, the decorations, the cooking and the food, the sweets, haldi, Mehendi, sangeet, the baaraat and ofcourse the crying – the author leaves out nothing and it all makes for an amazing and thoroughly entertaining but also emotional read. The premise of the main characters’ brother and sister’s wedding also reminded me of the classic Bollywood wedding film Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, and I felt the author was definitely giving a nod to the movie in the very elaborately executed shoe stealing sequence during the wedding. Just evoked so much nostalgia.

Zuri is sister of the bride and while she wants to major in music, her family wants her to go to law school like her sisters. She has to choose between attending a music competition on the same day as her sister’s garba night and while it was a difficult dilemma for her and I could really sympathize with her struggles, it randomly reminded me of an old Hindi TV serial called Sasural Simar Ka in which the bride is the one who wants to attend an audition on the day of her wedding and has to choose. I promise you, this book is way way better than that show but the random memory just felt hilarious. Coming back to the book, Zuri is a sweet girl who is very excited to ensure her sister’s wedding goes perfectly but is also worried about chasing her dreams. I’m glad with how she made her choices but sometimes I also wished she could speak up. But I also know it’s not easy to counter the arguments made by desi parents and elders, especially when you are a teenager.

Naveen is a cousin of the groom and an aspiring singer as well and an absolute cocky charmer. Their banter right from the first “accidental” meeting was super fun and I liked how the author developed their friendship and more. Thankfully, it’s not aiming for eternal love but feels very realistic for how two young teenagers might feel about each other. I was also absolutely glad that there is no miscommunication trope or a third act breakup.

The supporting characters are also all amazing. The aunts and uncles might only care about the kids being engineers, doctors and lawyers and always going on about matchmaking, it’s the cousins and friends who are the stars here. They bring all the fun to the wedding celebrations and are also there to support Zuri when she desperately needs it. I especially loved Krish for being an awesome cousin.

In the end, this was a romp and I was smiling throughout. The main character might have some small troubles about making the right choices but other than that, the book is all about love and family and everything that encompasses a desi wedding. It’s big and bold and bright and every description took me back to some memory. If you are a fan of lavish weddings and characters whose music touches the soul, then this book is perfect for you. This one promises every bit of fun that the gorgeous cover indicates. 

PS: Thank you to Amulet Books and Netgalley for providing me with the advance copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.

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