About the Book

Title: Lovetorn
Published: 2010
Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Cover Story: Generic
BFF Charm: BFF Minus The B
Talky Talk: Matter Of Fact
Bonus Factors: Diversity, Volunteerism
Relationship Status: Club Friend

Cover Story: Generic

Just your typical YA contemporary romance cover. Bodies whose heads are nowhere to be found. Covers like these just don’t tell my anything about the story at all, and just ends up making this book blend in with all the other generic comtemp covers. But! At least the hands weren’t whitewashed!

The Deal

Shalini has spent all of her 16 years living under one roof with her large extended family (37 in total) in India. So when her father is offered a great career opportunity to America, Shalini’s life is turned upside-down. She, her mother, and younger sister are all uprooted and moved to the suburbs of Los Angeles. And while Shalini is sad to leave her home, friends and family, the person she misses most is Vikram, her fiancé. Their engagement was arranged for them by their fathers (lifelong best friends) when they were still children. And while the practice may be old-fashioned, Shalini has never wanted it any other way. Vikram is her best friend and the person who knows her better than anyone else. But Shalini is out of her comfort zone for the first time in her life, dealing with mean girls, culture shock and an ill mother. And once Shalini finds her niche, she ends up finding Toby, who may end up changing everything she thought she knew.

BFF Charm: BFF Minus The B

BFF charm with a :-| face

Shalini is remarkably resilient. Sure, she isn’t happy about moving to America and definitely takes her time fitting in. And she’s sad, but (most importantly) she doesn’t wallow in it. Some people in Shalini’s situation would feed off their self-pity, but Shalini keeps trying to make her situation better (even if it seems impossible at times). And most importantly, Shalini doesn’t lose her sense of self during the process of learning how to fit in to her new environment.

Shalini is smart and kind and would make a great friend. But while I would definitely be her friend, I’m not sure Shalini would earn the “B” in my BFF, if only because I require a bit more excitement out of my bestie. You gotta make me laugh or no way can you qualify for the “B.”

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

I thought Shalini’s relationship with her fiancé Vikram was interesting and really well done. To me there is nothing swoony about a 16 year old in an arranged engagement, but this book takes a thoughtful look at the situation. In the Western media, if we hear about an arranged marriage, it’s always a horrible story about someone forced into something against their will. So it’s important to realize that not every arrangement is that horror story. And I couldn’t help but understand how comforting it might be to have that unpredictable element of your life (who you’ll marry) already planned out for you.

However, Shalini’s crush Toby just didn’t do anything for me. Her crush on him felt realistic, but his returned affection did not. Toby is one of those perfect boys (a senior! super cute! super popular! talented! and nice to boot!) that just doesn’t exist in real life. And besides the whole “secret fiancé” thing, there was absolutely no conflict in their relationship. And while I think Toby worked well as a catalyst for Shalini questioning her engagement to Vikram, I didn’t buy Shalini/Toby on its own terms.

Talky Talk: Matter of Fact

Shalini’s voice is thoughtful and straightforward. At times it could seem detached to me, as though she were describing someone other than herself. I guess I am used to first person narratives (especially in contemporary YA) being a bit for lively and emotional, which might be why I didn’t feel I connected with Shalini as much as other contemporary narrators.

Bonus Factor: Diversity

Faces of all different races, ethnicities and genders.

Hurray for a POC (person of color) protagonist! Shalini is from Bangalore, India and a practicing Hindu. It is interesting seeing her go through the process of acclimating to a new culture (though, depressing at times because UHHH high schoolers are such bitches!)

Bonus Factor: Volunteerism

Shalini joins a group that helps raise money for impoverished women around the world – the women are given the skills tools to learn how to feed themselves and their families. It’s great to see a YA protagonist involved in something where they are giving their time (and not just for college apps) and thinking about others besides themselves.

Relationship Status: Club Friend

This book is like that friend you have in your regular afterschool activity/club. We have some similar interests and work well together. Maybe I don’t always find time to hang out with them outside of our club activity, but I’m still glad to count them as one of my friends when at school or whenever we happen to run into each other.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from HarperCollins. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Lovetorn is available now.

Megan is an unabashed fangirl who is often in a state of panic about her inability to watch, read and play all the things.