A Match Made in Mehendi
author : nandini bajpai
pages : [hardcover[ 320
favorite character : simi
Fifteen-year-old Simran “Simi” Sangha comes from a long line of Indian vichole-matchmakers-with a rich history for helping parents find good matches for their grown children. When Simi accidentally sets up her cousin and a soon-to-be lawyer, her family is thrilled that she has the “gift.”
But Simi is an artist, and she doesn’t want to have anything to do with relationships, helicopter parents, and family drama. That is, until she realizes this might be just the thing to improve her and her best friend Noah’s social status. Armed with her family’s ancient guide to finding love, Simi starts a matchmaking service-via an app, of course.
But when she helps connect a wallflower of a girl with the star of the boys’ soccer team, she turns the high school hierarchy topsy-turvy, soon making herself public enemy number one.
Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book at Book Con.
A Match Made in Mehendi is a cute, light read following Simi, who isn’t quite sure that she wants to join the family matchmaking business because she dreams of becoming an artist. As a way to sort of test her interest and also gauge if she’s any good at matchmaking, she works with her friends to design an app that uses all of her family’s techniques to pair individuals. The dating app only works at her school and Simi personally has a hand in every match that occurs.
I can truly say that I’ve never read anything like this! A Match Made in Mehendi has modern high school drama with the technology components, while also doing a callback to the past with Simi’s more ‘traditional’ family business–old school, meeting prospective matches in person, and everything is written out on paper (Simi struggles with those filing cabinets and I sympathize). There’s a blending of generational differences, a blending of cultures–and Simi is struggling to find her way through it all, so it’s as relatable as any coming-of-age story.
However, it takes a lot for me to fall in love with contemporary novels, and I don’t think the characters were unique enough in this one for me to ever consider it for a reread. Simi is someone I think a lot of teens will see themselves in, but the cast around her falls flat as they really only exist to support her and don’t stand well on their own. At times, things happen to other characters seemingly only so we can get Simi’s reaction, and then we never see the follow-through or consequences. The plot threads are dropped, and while it was interesting that there were so many in a relatively short book, it would have been better to have them condensed so that nothing would end up getting left behind after a few chapters.
The writing in this book was very simplistic, so I think it would appeal most to the younger spectrum of YA readers. There were never any really biting bits of dialogue, or paragraphs that jumped out as particularly meaningful. The text said what was happening, and who was saying what, but never explored Simi’s emotions any more deeply than that. Disappointing, when we get the entire book from her perspective.
However, unlike so many YA novels coming out right now, this was a fun book to read and pretty happy overall. Yes, there are deeper themes explored, such as bullying, but they’re done nicely in a way that isn’t quite as depressing or melodramatic as other current contemporary novels. Simi goes through a lot but never really lets it get her down, and it’s refreshing to have such a positive main character.
So, if you’re looking for a light, fluffy read–overall, this might be the one for you.