Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format/pages: Library book, Hardcover 256 pages
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars
Shalini must leave her comfortable family life in India behind when her father accepts a new job in Los Angeles. Shalini leaves a big extended family and her cherished fiancé Vikram, her match since age three. Her father has a two-year contract and then the plan is to return home a success. In the meantime, Shalini has to attend high school, and find her place in LA’s foreign and unwelcoming halls. Things get more complicated when Shalini gets involved with a charity group at school and becomes smitten with orchestra musician Toby. Shalini is torn between two worlds – the life chosen for her and the life she never dreamed of.
I was inspired to pick up Lovetorn to read more about the Indian culture, and to read about how the family transitions from Bangalore to LA. Seems like quite the culture shock. The forbidden love aspect and how that relates to the arranged marriage also caught my interest.
I liked the story overall. It’s a quick light read with a lot of great ideas. However, I just wished that some of them were explored a little more fully. The length of the book is short, to the expense of some of the character and story development. It didn’t have the depth I was looking for, though the story itself is refreshing.
The protagonist Shalini is really bullied in school for her appearance and manner of dress. Some of the behavior is appallingly mean, so much so that I was impressed that she even made it to school everyday. She has a lot on her plate considering school and picking up the slack at home now that her mother is suffering depression from the move. Only her father and little sister Sangita seem to be thriving in their new life. She does find her place eventually, as her friendships and experiences evolve over the course of the book.
The family dynamics are explored and bring up interesting points about gender equality, culture and traditions, and mental health issues. I liked seeing how the family reacted to their new surroundings in different ways, and how they adjusted over time. Sangita the little sister is a standout character and I would have liked to learn more about her.
The transition to life in LA ended up being more interesting to me than the love triangle. I didn’t feel strongly for one choice over the other, even though Vikram does seem like a great guy and support system to Shalini. It makes sense that she would question her match to him through this forced separation. I wished there was more time in the book devoted to her decision making process, instead of it feeling somewhat rushed.
Even though I’m not head over heels in love with this book, Lovetorn is an enjoyable read. Contemporary fans looking for a refreshing read about Indian culture and family life should give this book a try.