[Blog Tour] ARC Review: Sari, Not Sari by Sonya Singh

Book title: Sari, Not Sari

Author: Sonya Singh

Pub date: April 5th, 2022

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Genres: Romance, Contemporary

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Purchase Links:

S&S website || Amazon || Barnes and Noble || BAM || Apple Books || Kobo

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This delightful debut rom-com follows the adventures of a woman trying to connect with her South Asian roots and introduces readers to a memorable cast of characters in a veritable feast of food, family traditions, and fun.

Manny Dogra is the beautiful young CEO of Breakup, a highly successful company that helps people manage their relationship breakups. As preoccupied as she is with her business, she’s also planning her wedding to handsome architect Adam Jamieson while dealing with the loss of her beloved parents.

For reasons Manny has never understood, her mother and father, who were both born in India, always wanted her to become an “All-American” girl. So that’s what she did. She knows next to nothing about her South Asian heritage, and that’s never been a problem—until her parents are no longer around, and an image of Manny that’s been Photoshopped to make her skin look more white appears on a major magazine cover. Suddenly, the woman who built an empire encouraging people to be true to themselves is having her own identity crisis.

But when an irritating client named Sammy Patel approaches Manny with an odd breakup request, the perfect solution presents itself: If they both agree to certain terms, he’ll give her a crash course in being “Indian” at his brother’s wedding.

What follows is days of dancing and dal, masala and mehndi as Manny meets the lovable, if endlessly interfering, aunties and uncles of the Patel family, and, along the way, discovers much more than she could ever have anticipated. 

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These days, I really need incentive to pick up a contemporary romance novel but when I saw the gorgeous cover of this desi debut and that punny title, I thought I should surely give it a try. And while I’m still accumulating my thoughts, this book turned out to be a good experience.

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The writing took me a while to get into because the character interactions felt a bit stilted and superficial in the beginning but now that I think about it, that may have been intentional. But when the setting changes from work to a desi wedding, I definitely found it easy to breeze through the pages. However limited to aesthetics Indian culture was here, I can’t deny that I still enjoy reading it in any form in books and this one had some gorgeous descriptions of clothes, yummy food, lots of Bollywood references and even a dance to an item number. But since the theme was about the main character trying to find out her inner Indian, I wish she had the opportunity to learn atleast some of the meaning behind the various wedding traditions instead of being told some common superstitions. There is a little twist in this tale too which gave full on Kabhie Kabhie vibes and that made me slightly nostalgic for that lovely movie. I was also quite grateful that the couple of instances of misunderstandings were resolved quickly because I hate the miscommunication trope in romance novels.

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I also can’t resist making some comments about the main character’s business in the book. It’s called Breakup and their work is to send breakup emails for their clients and include many other packages including getting ready to date again, finding closure etc. To go with this theme, we get snippets of emails that Breakup receives from their clients at the beginning of every chapter and I thought they were both funny and cringy and sad. Is it that I’m too old and having married early has made me incapable of comprehending it all, but if these emails are kind of an indication of the online dating scene in the current times, I can totally see why people are having so much difficulty finding fulfilling relationships these days.

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Coming to the characters, we only get one POV, which is our girlboss CEO Manny Dogra. She is a go getter and ambitious and definitely has the chops to take her nationally popular business to the world stage. But she has achieved this by working her ass off to forget her grief about losing her parents, and this attitude is definitely encouraged by her fiancé Adam. But I was in slight disbelief initially about how disconnected and ignorant she was about Indian culture or her roots in general, and didn’t even seem interested to learn anything about it – I’m not a first generation American, so I don’t have the experience of wanting to assimilate but I guess this can be true for some families. While the incident mentioned in the synopsis is a wake up call, I still felt her decision to attend a desi wedding and learn Indian culture was a bit too impulsive and out of character for her. I did like that she was able to experience the love of a huge family and the chaos and togetherness that Indian weddings can bring.

Since we don’t get Sammy’s POV, I had to piece together my feelings based on the conversations he has with Manny. He seemed like a kind and compassionate person who loved his family, but also made many assumptions about them and was making life changing decisions based on those assumptions. I thought his connection with Manny was genuine and I could totally see a lovely friendship building between them but maybe I just didn’t feel the falling in love part. However, they do seem good for each other so I guess that’s fine.

I really liked the whole Patel family with their nosiness as well as love and support. While the author does portray some of the issues that can exist with inclusion and acceptance in the community, she also showed that there are many others who are equally supportive and just want the best for their children and family. Sammy’s sister Manisha was boisterous and fun, their mom was slightly nosy but loving (I wish she didn’t have those couple of throwaway fatshaming lines) and their dad turned out to be the surprise romantic of the lot. Manny’s friends Anjali and Rob were definitely her found family and I liked the bond they shared with each other. Anjali is a definite godsend and her cousin Aliyan lit up the pages with his sass. There’s one scene where Aliyan introduces Manny to the underground desi drag scene and I found that very moving, especially because recently I’ve been seeing a lot of videos of famous Indian Drag Queen Rani KoHEnur, and I liked seeing this sliver of positive representation for them in the book. We never do get to meet Sammy’s girlfriend Lisa but her actions definitely speak enough about her. Manny’s fiancé Adam on the other hand seemed more suited for a business partnership than as a husband.

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In the end, this was an enjoyable debut which took me a while to get into but found its footing later on. While the instalove element may not be for everyone and there were some hiccups on the way, I definitely enjoyed the second half of the book during the wedding and it was fun to be part of all the Patel family shenanigans

5 star

PS: Thank you so much to Lonely Pages Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to participate in this tour. Also thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with this advance copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.

About the Author

Sonya Singh is an author, writer, and storyteller who currently lives in Toronto, Canada. She’s a former entertainment reporter turned PR expert. Her debut novel Sari,Not Sari, slated for a spring release in ’22, is already generating serious advanced buzz (including being selected for the prestigious Debutante Ball). She also signed an international two book deal. Sonya wrote Sari, Not Sari, to laugh her way through some of her more disastrous breakups.In her spare time, you can find Sonya sipping on a matcha latte, enjoying a homemade pizza, or hanging out with her adorable dog, Moses Alexander.

Author Links

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