A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai
Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers (The NOVL)
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Available Through The Book Depository: A Match Made In Mehendi
Summary: 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.
*Received ARC from Yallwest*
My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½
My Thoughts: A Match Made In Mehendi is a fantastic debut and one you definitely want to add to your Fall TBR! When Simi develops an app to match couples at her school, things get pretty interesting! Its a fun, delightful YA debut that also focuses on pursuing your dreams, friendship, and love!
Simi Sangha aspires to continue developing and pursuing her passion as an artist, she also happens to come from a long line of female matchmakers! When she’s able to successfully match her cousin Preet with the son of a local furniture store, Jolly, her mother and aunt are certain she has the “gift.” Her mother insists she continue the family legacy, but Simi doesn’t have much interest and would rather focus on her art (primarily sketching and mehendi) as sophomore year looms closer!
When her best friend Noah Siegal insist they try to improve their popularity in the coming year, Simi’s older brother Navdeep also happens to be working on an app inspired by their family’s matchmaking business!
She see’s this as the perfect opportunity to try out her “gift” while also using her artistic skills! Simi knows this’ll not only help her best friend, but also allow her to use her family’s matchmaking knowledge in getting classmates of Mayfield High, to find their match!
I’d been looking forward to reading this lovely book for over a year and it was so good, easily on my list of all-time favorite YA Contemporary books!
Hopefully my review inspires you to look more into this debut because its just so much fun! + If your looking for a unique contemporary story that also explores many themes, while at its heart, is a story about pursuing your dreams, then please check it out! I feel this a YA Contemporary many have not read or heard of and I think everyone should read it! 💖🌸✨
A Match Made In Mehendi also shines through its first-person POV! Following Simi’s perspective brings such an energy to the story and everything else that you want to keep reading! The way the plot, character development, and journey Simi undergoes allow you to feel incredibly connected to the story― you feel your right there alongside Simi the entirety of the novel! She was an incredibly fun character to follow― she’s awkward, funny, confident in her artistic skills, and much more!
Simi is one of the more relatable YA Contemporary characters I’ve read in a while. Though I’m no longer in high school I really resonated with her on her journey of friendship, love, and the expectations we set upon ourselves + our futures: I feel people at any age are still navigating these situations, so I really appreciated Bajpai’s exploration of them and how they really connected with me!
Friendship is one of the many important themes of this novel and I loved how it was explored! Not only through Simi and Noah, but also through the camaraderie between Simi and her classmates (especially when trouble occurs). I also appreciated the focus on m/f friendships (which Simi has quite a few of), I don’t often see that explored in YA so that was really great to read about!
With a book about matchmaking, of course there’s also lots of exploration of romance! Simi finds herself learning more about the app and how it works, when her school begins using it and we see perfect matches being made!
Simi navigates some romance herself when we learn about the boy she’s had a crush on since they were little (Aiden) and how their common interest in art brings them closer together! There’s also Suraj (Jolly’s cousin) who recently transfers to Simi’s school and is good friends with her brother Navdeep! I loved their dynamic so much and this was a really cute romance as you learn more about both of the guys and Simi’s exploration with love herself! There’s some unpredictability to the romance which was really fun to read!
The Matched! app was easily one of the most clever and creative catalysts that drove many important themes, elements, and layers to this fantastic story! From its incorporation of Navdeep’s tech skills (and love of robotics) alongside Simi’s passion for art, I loved how Bajpai combined technology and family tradition that also represents Simi taking her family’s legacy and making it her own! It involves a variety of school-related and hobby questions that all come together into their algorithm, which also assigns people a unique animal (created by Simi), to see how the app changed and developed with each few chapters was incredibly fun to read about & I appreciated how it was such an important element to a lot of the growth throughout this novel.
As the story develops, while the app starts as a fun experiment for their high school, it soon causes drama when one of the matches upsets one of the popular girls in Simi’s class, Amanda! Now, Simi and Noah are navigating their newly developed popularity and the drama they get sucked into when Amanda doesn’t approve of one of the matches (which involves her ex-boyfriend)!
As I mentioned above, I really loved how Simi used her family legacy of matchmaking and turned into something completely her own! It also allows for such a big element of family to shine throughout the novel! With this legacy following the Sangha women, we see how her mother (who runs a matchmaking service for Desi families w/ her sister (Simi’s aunt)), expects so much from her in regards to the business she finds it difficult to explain how art is such a big part of her identity! It was great to see that element explored so much into the story (though I wish there could have been a bit more page time to develop their mother/daughter dynamic).
The writing is also wonderful! It not only allows for the story to progress in such a fantastic way, but it also allows for elements of humor, mystery, and overall brings everything to life off the page! Tying into the writing itself, is the atmosphere of this novel. Simi is confident in herself, skills as an artist, and as you see the expectations put upon her (both internal & external), you see that above all she is incredibly loyal to those she cares about and herself!
Simi is an incredibly inspiring protagonist and her narrative voice just leave you smiling throughout this entire book!
Next I want to talk about the characters, who are all fantastic (even the ones your not supposed to like): Navdeep, Noah, Suraj, Teá & Ethan, Aiden, Amanda, Simi’s cousins Preet & Geet, and her other friends at school. Through Simi’s narrative they all really come to life!
Overall, there was just a great cast of characters who are all given depth and developed from beginning to end regardless of how little page time they have!
I will say that, although Simi’s grandmother was a great character introduced near the last few quarters of the book, I wish her character was just a bit more developed! Because she’s part of the matchmaker legacy, it would have been great to get a little more from her!
It was such a delight to read excerpts of The Shagun Matchmaking Guide with each chapter! Not only was it an important Sangha heirloom, but I also appreciated how it wove its way into the story more near the end! Its an incredibly vital tool for her family’s matchmaking service and I loved how it was woven into the story to provide Simi with a feeling of luck and guide her as she navigated matchmaking in her school!
As for the representation of A Match Made In Mehendi, it features a mainly Indian and Indian-American cast, Gay rep (Noah), and though its not specifically stated its hinted at that Simi’s school is diverse!
A Match Made In Mehendi is an incredibly fun, heartwarming debut that explores a variety of themes, that will have you turning the page from family, legacy, love, friendship, and pursuing one’s dreams! Bajpai’s YA Contemporary debut has such great writing, a wonderful cast of characters, humor, mystery, romance, and much more! I’m looking forward to reading what Bajpai publishes next!
I was also a part of the blog tour for A Match Made In Mehendi and if you’d like to check out a Q & A where Nandini goes into more detail about her inspiration and other fun elements, you can read it Here! 🌸✨📚