When Shalini’s father gets a new job in L.A., she is torn away from her life in India and the boy to whom she’s been betrothed since she was three. L.A. is so different, and Shalini dresses and talks all wrong. She isn’t sure she’ll survive high school in America without her fiancé, Vikram, and now she has to cope with her mom’s homesickness and depression. A new friend, chill and confident Renuka, helps Shalini find her way and get up the courage to join the Food4Life club at school. But she gets more than just a friend when she meets Toby—she gets a major crush. Shalini thinks she loves Vikram, but he never made her feel like this.
In Lovetorn, Shalini discovers that your heart ultimately makes its own choices, even when it seems as if your destiny has already been chosen.
Life is about choices. And they aren't always your choices--sometimes it's the choices of others and how they can change your life. Take Shalini for example. She's perfectly happy living in India with her extended family and her fiance since she was 3, Vikram. She's sure that she loves Vikram and looks forward to a happy future with him and the rest of her family in India. Then, in what seems like a chance decision, her father moves the family to the United States and they are all forced to embrace a life-changing move.
Shalini's voice in this novel is authentic and relateable. She's a teenage girl who was perfectly content with her life in India and then it was all pulled out from under her. I think that any teen who ever felt like an outcast in high school can relate to her story. She's forced into a world where people don't accept her exactly the way she is and she has to learn to adapt to find happiness. At times it is difficult to watch Shalini struggle through school and I was SO happy when she decided to join the Food4Life club because you finally felt like she was really making an attempt to "fit in" (or at least to find happiness).
Shalini's new American friends and her first real crush are a fun and realistic addition to the story. While you don't see much of her Food4Life friends, you do get the sense that's what they are--friends, the first ones Shalini has found since coming to America. Also, watching Shalini develop her first crush on Toby, the orchestra's flutist, was so cute. Ms. Daswani truly captured the enraptured feeling that comes with that first crush when you're young, even though Shalini is a bit older than most girls experiencing that feeling. It was something that really pulled me closer to the MC.
Shalini's family is a great mixture of success and frustration, portraying the range of emotions that can come with moving to a foreign place. Shalini's sister fits right in and seems to immediately find her place in this new world, while Shalini's mom holes herself up in her room and refuses to even truly attempt to adjust. It's a very realistic situation and your heart really goes out to her mom, although by the end I have to admit that there were moments when I was so frustrated that she wouldn't even TRY for the sake of her daughters.
Overall, this was a very engaging read that I highly recommend to contemporary YA fans. It is a story of love, loss, and the challenges of being a teenager, something we can all relate to, packaged in a world that many of us can't quite imagine.