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A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers / Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
When New Jersey sophomore Simi Sangha accidentally introduces her cousin Preet to the man Preet falls in love with, her family is overjoyed to realize that Simi shares the family gift for matchmaking. Simi’s mother and aunt are third-generation vichole (Punjabi matchmakers) but Simi thinks matchmaking is outdated and would rather focus her talents on her mehendi (henna design) inspired school art project. When best friend Noah convinces her that they should break down their school’s cliques by creating an anonymous dating app, Simi is reluctantly intrigued by the idea of modernizing her family’s gift. Instantly popular, the app puts Simi and Noah on their school’s social radar but also generates unexpected matches that lead to controversy and angst.
Reluctant readers will be drawn in by the high-interest combination of traditional matchmaking and dating apps, and will stay for Simi’s likeability and rewarding character growth. Warm, positive family dynamics add to the novel’s appeal. While Simi is initially reluctant to be drawn into the family business, working alongside her mother and aunt leads to respect and a desire to honor their abilities through her app. Each chapter starts with a quote from her family’s The Shagun Matchmaking Guide and readers will be intrigued by the cultural and historical information about vichole conveyed through the novel. A linear plot and dialogue realistic to the age group also enhance reluctant reader appeal.
A charming, feel-good read perfect for fans of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi, or David Yoon’s Frankly In Love.