Thursday 12 January 2023

Sari Not Sari

Finished January 12
Sari Not Sari by Sonya Singh

This romance novel is set around entrepreneur Manny Dogra. Manny started her own company after college, building on a skill she realized she had in communication. Her company is called Breakup, and it provides services around ending relationships in a way that makes it easier for both parties to move on. Her team writes emails and letters for the person that hires them, but goes beyond that in helping manage the transition for them as well. 
Manny has recently been named one of California's Top Forty Under Forty CEOs, and is on a professional role. But her personal life isn't going as well. She is engaged to Adam, an architect who is very busy in his work life as well, and they haven't seen much of each other lately. Dates for their wedding have been booked and cancelled repeatedly as work conflicts arose. Adam is the first man that Manny dated after the sudden death of her parents three years ago as a result of a car accident. Manny is an only child, as were both her parents, and they raised her to go after what she wanted and to be an American by assimilating. This means that Manny hasn't had exposure to Indian culture, and as a result of some events in her life, she has begun to realize that she is missing this part of herself and this connection to her parents. 
As she agrees to help a client with a relationship situation, she negotiates an introduction to Indian culture for herself by going to an Indian wedding as his guest. The wedding is a typical Indian wedding, with many days of celebration, and a lot of family participation. As a reader, I learned a lot of terminology and culture along with the character. But I was surprised at how little Manny was supposed to know about Indian traditions prior to this. I'm not Indian and I was aware of many of the things that she was clueless about. Many of the secondary characters lacked depth and were stereotypical examples. There was also no discussion of which part of Indian culture Manny and her host Sammy Patel came from. From looking at other reviews, I see that Patel is a common Gujarati name, so it seems that this is the subgroup depicted here, but the references to Bollywood culture as a monolithic one were misleading. 
The overall message seemed to be that we need to understand where we've come from to really know who we are, and that has some truth to it. There were a few instances in the book where there were examples of exclusion, despite the inclusionary words that the characters professed, and those jarred a bit from the story.
I enjoy learning about other cultures, while being cautious about respecting boundaries, and this book touched on that. There are a lot of emotional scenes here, and the plot moved very quickly, taking place within just a few days, and I was surprised at how quickly the characters changed allegiances, even if those feelings around their previous situations had been percolating for a while.
This is a debut novel from a promising new Canadian voice. I look forward to seeing more from her. 

No comments:

Post a Comment