Disclaimer: the amazing humans at Hachette Book Group Canada were kind enough to send me an arc of A Match Made in Mehendi in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions below are my own.
“Sometimes an accident is no accident,
but a way to bring hearts together.”
A Match Made in Mehendi is a fun, feel-good story about brown kids just being brown kids! Yes, there is some racism, but for the most part, these teenagers are just going through high school, and the fact that they are brown, is not the main point of the story. It is refreshing!
Simi is an artist. She loves mehendi and is very good at it too. Her mother, her aunt, and her grandma are all matchmakers though, and want her to join the family business.
At school, Simi and her best friend Noah (who is gay) are determined to make an impression on their fellow students this year – well, Noah more than Simi. But she wants him to be happy, so she agrees to work on… a matchmaking app with him!
Their app builds off an app that Simi’s brother created for their mom’s matchmaking business. The foundation is all in place – they just need people at school to sign up.
What ensues are the great and terrible love stories of Mayfield High!
“‘Everyone deserves a love story’ is what Nanima always told me.”
I really liked Simi. She wants to get through high school without causing any problems, but she also wants to make her best friend happy. She’s relatable and understandable.
One thing that felt “off” (I don’t even know if that is the right word) to me is how sketchy they seemed about developing the app. I would expect that teachers would be impressed if a student could create an app, assuming the app was not harming anyone.
I can understand some wariness about it being a matchmaking app, but students in high school date.. so it shouldn’t be a problem? Anyway, that was just a small issue I had with it. The app itself sounded really cool though!
“He’s quizzing me like an old auntie trying to
make a match at the gurdwara.”
It was awesome to see some gay and lesbian rep in the matches that developed. They also unintentionally broke up the cliques, so students from different social groups were matched because of their shared interests and values. It was pretty cool to see, and a good reminder that you should never judge someone just from their appearance!
Outside of the high school, Simi accidentally/on purpose sets up her cousin, Preet, with someone, and that whole story is so relatable and adorable. Preet and Jolly are the cutest, and I definitely know couples with stories similar to theirs.
“Beta, will you tell us more about your family?
Perhaps we know them?”
^ said every brown mom/auntie ever!
It was also really nice to see brown families just being brown families in this book. I mentioned it above, but the fact that Simi’s family is Indian is not the point of the story. They just are. It was so cool to see a family very similar to mine in a book where they aren’t fighting everyone because of their culture.
Also, I dabble in mehendi, so I definitely related to Simi! I’m nowhere near as good as she is, but I do love doing it!
“I start swirling my paints — a rusty red, rich like henna —
in paisleys first, like I would with my mehendi. I grin at my handiwork,
filling in the details. Soon the image morphs, and there are two figures, a queen and her king. A match made in mehendi.”
Simi’s relationship with her brother is also very relatable. My brother and I are very similar (though he is younger than me), so seeing the quick change from bickering siblings to “can you help me with this” was super entertaining. Not to mention the “I’ve always got your back against the parents” unwritten rule between siblings!
The only thing I did not “like” (it’s a weird way to say it, but I’ll explain) was the kiss at the end. Two brown teenagers are at a big Indian family event, and while sitting in the corner, they kiss. It’s just weird to me. It is absolutely personal preference as well. I’m not saying they shouldn’t kiss and I’m not saying it is wrong. I simply grew up with that not being something you would see or do. Teenagers talked in secret (which is also not necessarily good), and weren’t even seen together until their parents were okay with them dating. So to have them kiss at a family function felt weird and unbelievable.
That being said, perhaps a better way to say it is that I am simply not used to it, but maybe that is something that needs to change. I’m not a huge fan of excessive PDA in general (again, personal preference, to each their own), but I do think Indian families need to be able to talk more about relationships and dating.
I don’t know that I will ever approve of making out with someone where my parents could see me… but a small showing of affection should be okay. That scene did throw me off though and felt very out of place…
“There’s never a good reason to be mean to other people.”
Other than that, I really loved this book. It tackles bullying, being yourself, life goals, traditional versus modern views, and so much more. It is also very clearly written with Indian teens in mind and my heart loves that so much!
That being said, everyone will still be able to relate to the coming-of-age story and the first loves and heartbreaks, so if you like feel-good contemporaries, you should definitely check this book out!
A Match Made in Mehendi releases on September 10, 2019.
Note: All quotes above were taken from an advance reader’s edition of the book and are subject to change in the final release.