Sister of the Bollywood Bride
by Nandini Bajpai
Little, Brown and Company (for Young Readers/Poppy)

"Think outside the box. 'How about here?' A wild idea was taking hold of me. 'At our house! Tomorrow—before the storm hits hard!'"

Through high school student Padmini "Mini" Kapoor, Bajpai has done a commendable job of capturing the essence of the Indian (Punjabi) culture, from its incredibly high societal expectations for children and often utter disdain for marrying out of "caste" to the bangle-wearing, sindoor-donning new bride and the all-out marathon "dhol-dhamaka" that is the Indian wedding. Though the story centers on Mini's unyielding resolve to organize a Bollywood-esque wedding for her sister, Vinnie, it digs several layers deeper, revolving around the numerous relationships in Mini's orbit.

On the one hand, Mini is anxiously awaiting her SAT score, contemplating her college future, and unsure of how much more change she can handle with her sister, an emergency medical resident at UChicago, being so far away. On the other, she takes the mantle of the woman of the house, organizing every part of the wedding. The search for the venue is an intriguing portion on its own and allows the readers to reflect on the beautiful and refreshing relationship Mini has with her dog, Yogi.

Whether it's Mallu Masi (her mother's sister) coming from India, Vir—a charmer of the highest degree, or just her relationship with her father, Mini is growing from an arts enthusiast into a fiercely loyal advocate for her loved ones, one that is ready to fill the void left behind by the devastating loss of her mother years before. Not even an epic hurricane is strong enough to derail Mini's desire to ensure that her sister has a wedding to remember. In this undoubtedly character-driven novel, Bajpai tucks in a heartwarming coming-of-age story while displaying pinpoint precision in fusing the Indian culture with a Western upbringing. The result is a highly entertaining and relatable read for all audiences.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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