The Rearranged Life Synopsis
Nithya, a vivacious, intelligent and driven college senior has always known what she has wanted: a successful career in medicine and the love of her family. She's even come to terms with the idea of an arranged marriage, a tradition her conservative Indian family has held up for thousands of years.
When a night of partying puts her on a collision course with danger, Nithya's entire life changes.
Enter James St. Clair, the smart, challenging and heartbreakingly handsome American.
As Nithya and James fall in love, she questions the future she and her parents have always planned. Now, Nithya has a choice to make: become a doctor and a good Indian bride, or step away from her family and centuries of culture to forge her own path.
The decision she comes to takes her on a journey that transforms how she sees her future, her relationships with loved ones, and how she learns to put herself back together when even her best-laid plans fall apart
Annika Sharman Bio
Annika Sharma was born in New Delhi and brought up in the United States, where she moved with her parents as a baby. A proud alum, she graduated from Penn State University with dual degrees in Biobehavioral Health and Neuro-Psychology, and minors in Biology and Human Development and Family Studies. She received her Master's degree in Early Childhood Special Education before pursuing her dreams of becoming a writer, landing her agent Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group while daylighting as a preschool teacher. The Rearranged Life, her first novel, was written in the month before graduate school.
Annika, a Gryffindor and Scorpio, spends much of her time dreaming of adventure, working on her next book, going on Starbucks runs with family and friends, shopping online and watching superhero movies.
This story brings back so many childhood memories. Growing up next door to an Indian family. Watching Indian movies, lots of colourful saris, delicious sweets, different music and dances. The atmosphere always so warm and welcoming, vibrant. Parents migrated and children born and bread in a different country and society, yet remaining loyal to their customs and traditions. Just like having dual citizenship. Always heading home to Indian during break and complaining when school starts back. Reminiscing.
"We have to be as Indian as the people in India and as American as the Americans.
We can't win."
Annika Sharman gives us a story that delves into and crosses cultural barriers and family. As Indians, whether living in or migrated from Indian, they must stay true to their culture and family. It's all about heritage and tradition. When Nithya finds herself not only attracted to an American but also dating one, it becomes difficult to balance both her family and cultural obligations, that have been set from birth, and her true feelings. Tradition versus Love.
"Aunties don't see love marriages as a path to happiness. It will always be selfish betrayal."
"She might be a good catch, but she should have stuck to an Indian. What is the point of having your own culture if you just blend right in and marry the one you moved into? You marry your kind. You are no Indian if you don't act like one!"
Nithya is struggling. She is in college studying to become a doctor, not only has she been rejected by all the colleges she has applied to, but she also has to sit by and watch her friends and boyfriend, get into the colleges of their choices. Whilst, battling choices. Choices that will either help her stay true to her Indian heritage and her family, or one that involves James, and thus shaming her family, by going against tradition and culture.
As an Indian, and and Indian woman, it is Nithya's responsibility to lift her family, in the site of God, society and culture. Daughters bring light to a household, whether their own, or their in-laws. In the Indian culture, Nithya's life has already been set out for her. She will become a doctor, because it is all she knows, and then she will have an arranged marriage, of her parents choosing. Their is no room for love. It's about cultural obligations and respect.
"Perhaps the idea of falling in love, dating, and making your own decisions is overplayed. Maybe love grows. Maybe it isn't something that exists from the first look or first kiss. Maybe, just maybe, the end justifies the means."
Going against tradition and her family, will be seen as disrespectful, towards her family and her culture. All the blame and shame will fall upon her parents, and they will be disrespected among their peers.
Indians run a secret spy network, fueled by gossip and funded by rumors.
Not only is Nithya battling her culture based on having an American boyfriend; her inner turmoil, is trying to stay true to herself whilst, still remaining loyal and respectful of her parents, their wishes and their sacrifices. Her inner tug of war takes a back seat, when her parents reunite with another Indian family, whose son, likes Nithya and without a doubt would like to eventually marry her.
Nishanth is just like Nithya, born and breed in America, but Indian to the core. Westernization has not affected him and his culture. So she would have the best of both worlds is she chooses to adhere to her traditions, rather than following her heart. Knowing very well, that the culture shock for James will be too much, along with her family.
“It would be easy with me. We could be a part of both clubs together. You don’t have to choose one over the other with me.”- Nishanth.
This is just as difficult for James. It's a complete culture shock. Not being able to be oneself, having your family arrange a marriage and being shunned. All he knows is that he loves Nithya and she needs to make a choice. He can't be strung along while she chooses her family over him.
"Who would want to be with someone who has no choice about what to do? Who wants to risk falling in love with someone if they might end up belonging to someone else?"
As Nithya battles her family, and tradition, she also battles with herself esteem. She has always been a strong young woman, but was that because of her family and culture. Did she follow through, because she felt obligated or were her choices made based on the path she saw her life taking. Nithya starts to question everything she ever knew. Why did she want to become a doctor, would it be so bad to have an American boyfriend, to not get into medical school, to go against tradition. There are so many 'what-if's' for Nithya, her deciding factor, will be the her in the end.
A lovely, thought provoking and endearing read.
*ARC provided by InkSlinger PR on behalf of the author for an honest review* Thanks!!!