I just finished the book Sari, Not Sari by Sonya Singh and I just loved it. I received it as an ARC from NetGalley and when I read the description, I just knew I had to have it. I was also excited to read it because I’m trying to read from more diverse voices and have been reading a lot of Indian or Southeast Asian books lately, thanks to Jenanine from YouTube (you should check out her channel by the way. Its awesome).
Its a super quick book (like 300 pages) and I read it in like three or four days. I finished it the day it came out! Just what did I think of this tale? Read on to find out!
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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
It was super cute but towards the end I felt it was rushed (the romance) or maybe I don’t understand the Indian culture. I felt like Adam was just (not really) there so he was an ugh character but I must say it was heartwarming and made me smile. I wanted to cry when Sammy did what he did for Manny at the community center. I was so happy for her as she started to bloom. She was a beautiful butterfly by the end. I mean she was pretty of course but the transformation within her when she discovered herself is what I’m referring to. A great debut novel!
Of course I made connections with the book. First of all, in the book, Manny’s parents are dead, just like mine. She didn’t (in the beginning) feel quite Indian enough and didn’t know any of the traditions. I sometimes feel like that with my Bahamian roots. There’s a part of me now that wants to discover them and a small part of me wished I paid more attention to my grandfather when he was alive to what he’d say or his cooking. Every time someone mentions sugar cane and conch fritters, my heart skips a beat. Food was a key factor in this book as well. It’s just something about enjoying food from your culture that just feeds your soul.
I love how they dealt with color. Manny had a magazine cover that she was on and they totally whitewashed her. They made her golden skin tone fair and got rid of her ethnic features. She was understandably mortified. They even digitally removed her mother’s necklace! Her Beau Adam thought it didn’t matter because he felt like she looked “sexy” and he “didn’t see color, especially when it comes to you” so it didn’t matter. Even when she voiced how hurt she felt by it by saying “it feels a little disrespectful” he dismissed it. He even went to on describe her as “a blank building that I can paint whatever color I want”. How messed up was that? Aliyan made me smile when he stood her in front of the mirror and told her that she was “a freakin’ rainbow of color!” and the she was a “beautiful Indian woman” with her “glistening brown skin and this wavy thick dark hair that shows off your glowing almond shaped face.”
There were some characters that just felt like a hug if you were to meet them in real life. First theres Rajiv. He took her under his wing and felt like a warm cup of…coffee (I don’t like tea). One of the nicest things he said about her was that “One day you will have even bigger story than what you have now.” and boy did she! Anjali was such a great friend/assistant to her. She even encouraged her to “go find your inner Indian goddess.” Manisha was really fun and you can really see her pure heart. She embraced Manny and welcomed her with open arms! She helped Manny to let down her walls and have a little fun. She encouraged her to do things out of her comfort zone and when she did…man did she shine. Aliyan was my favorite character. He was her fairy godfather. He helped her to see who she really was deep down inside and made her feel like she wasn’t so alone.
What I didn’t like, other than the rushed feeling towards the end, was how out of nowhere it seemed Sammy’s feelings for her were. To me he just seemed like s great friend and okay even if they did grow feelings for each other during the trip, let it slowly happen. She honestly didn’t need the man. It’s shocking for me to even say that but I just feel like she grew so much and learned so much about herself and had this new confidence, I don’t know I think the book should’ve just focused on that. Not on her having a man (again, I’m shocked those words came out of me lol). Should she have dumped the dead weight? Absolutely! But to hop into something else so fast? No thanks!
I give this a 3.5. Do I recommend this book? Absolutely! If you want something quick and heartwarming, this is your book!
Title: Sari, Not Sari
Author: Sonya Singh
Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Buy it here: Bookshop.org
What book have you read lately that warmed your heart?