Have I ever told you guys how I met author Amanda Heger?
Yeah. Twitter. I was this new author, who had no connections and I stumbled upon this incredible community online. One of those standouts who reached out (or maybe I did...truthfully, I don't even remember) with a snarky/funny/encouraging comment (this, I can almost guarantee) was Amanda. We founded a group of new authors, who eventually became close friends. Now, Amanda is my favorite person to share a bed with (at conferences, friends, get your heads out of the gutter...) and quite possibly one of the funniest people I've ever met. Her sarcasm, witticisms, and outrageously subtle (and not-so-subtle) one liners are something I look forward to every time I talk to her. She is not only one of the best human beings I know but one of the most exemplary storytellers I've ever met.
It comes as no surprise, then, that I read her new book, Crazy Cupid Love, and once again marveled at her talent.
Every once in a while, you read a book that changes your life...that forces your empathy to grow, challenges the things you were certain of, and makes you question how you'd respond.
This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel, is one of those books.
"This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them.
This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.
This is how children change…and then change the world.
This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.
When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.
Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes."
But what would you do in that situation? Is everything as it seems?
I never thought I'd see myself in a character so much--a little bit of a control freak, someone caught between destiny and choice, someone who has moments of grace but mostly moments of blurting out witty comments...Enter Winnie Mehta.
Winnie has dated a boy named Raj, who she believed was the man who would fulfill a prophecy about her love life...until they break up. Caught between what destiny has predicted for her and what she wants in life, the story explores the life of a high school senior as she navigates her life as a Bollywood movie, relates everything back to Bollywood, and lives out her own destiny.
Nisha Sharma knocks it out of the park, both with her descriptions of our culture and with the story itself. There's something so outlandish about Bollywood movies--the dancing, the songs, the melodrama, the overdone reactions, and the colors--and there's something so seamless about how she weaves it into the story. As she mentions time and again, the love of Bollywood isn't a love...
Author perk: the advanced copies of books that are releasing soon.
Author confession: Emily Giffin is one of the writers who reignited my love of reading and writing post-college. In fact, her story of leaving her law career and giving herself time to write her novel (Something Borrowed, which then went on to become a bestseller and a movie) is what propelled me to make a similar move and give myself an allotted amount of time post-master's degree to find an agent and complete the revision of TRL.
A lack of diversity is something you can't unsee once you really recognize that it exists in the publishing world. Many of my favorite authors have fallen off my list because I recognized how their characters were all white...and some of you may remember that I worried Emily Giffin would become the same way after her last (still amazing) novel.
I am no longer afraid. Emily Giffin went there. And she knocked it out of the park.
All We Ever Wanted follows three people in Nashville (a place I lived...
Which, ironically, was actually one of the best books I've ever read. No. I'm not kidding. I'm not playing up the abilities of its author, Laura Steven, nor am I harping about "those feminist things" in a way that'll make you cringe.
Sweet. Mother. Of. Mary. This book changed everything.
The cast of characters Laura put together was loud, unyielding, so alive that they felt like real people I went to high school with. And diverse.
Let's say it louder for people in the back: THE BOOK LOOKED LIKE THE WORLD DOES.
For a South Asian girl like me, seeing a South Asian character best friend with the spunkiest personality imaginable (hysterical, by the way) and an obnoxiousness that only a high schooler can both manage to impress and induce an eye roll with, was the icing on a cake I've waited for my entire life.
Okay. I guess I'll back up now. Laura Steven's THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF OKAY (capitals are necessary because it's that good, not just because it's the title) follow...