My So-Called Bollywood Life

My So-Called Bollywood Life

by Nisha Sharma

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Overview

The romance of Stephanie Perkins meets the quirk of Maureen Johnson, then gets a Bollywood twist in this fate-filled debut that takes the future into its own hands.

Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soul mate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her eighteenth birthday, and Raj meets all the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked when she returns from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted.

Then there's Dev, a fellow film geek and one of the few people Winnie can count on. Dev is smart and charming, and he challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope and find someone she'd pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy and her chance to live happily ever after? To find her perfect ending, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie star.

AN NPR BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

"A delightful and humorous debut."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred review

"The perfect timepass for both the Bollywood-obsessed and filmi (melodrama) novices."-Teen Vogue

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553523256
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 05/15/2018
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 295,604
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Nisha Sharma grew up immersed in Bollywood movies, eighties pop culture, and romance novels, so it comes as no surprise that her first novel My So-Called Bollywood Life features all three. Nisha credits her father for her multiple graduate degrees and her mother for her love of Shah Rukh Khan and Jane Austen. She lives in New Jersey with her cat, Lizzie Bennett, and her dog, Nancey Drew. You can find her online at www.nisha-sharma.com or on Twitter and Instagram at @nishawrites.

Read an Excerpt

From Winnie Mehta’s Bollywood Review Blog:

 

QUEEN

  

Kangana Ranaut’s blockbuster included all the elements needed to create a money-making masterpiece: a strong woman, a stupid man, and tons of girl power.

 

According to Google, a grave was supposed to be six feet deep, but Winnie Mehta didn’t want to put that much effort into digging. Besides, it wasn’t as if she was dumping an actual body or anything.

 

She stopped and surveyed the burial site she’d chosen in the woods behind her house. After dragging three boxes and a shovel up the hiking path, Winnie had already built up a layer of sweat, but she had a lot to do before she could go home.

 

As she marked the hole, her phone began vibrating in her pocket. She sent the call to voice mail when she saw her best friend’s face flash across the screen. That was Bridget’s seventh call in the last hour. Winnie wanted—no, needed—this moment, in which she stuck it to her stupid destiny, the wasted years she believed in true love, and, most importantly, to Raj, her cheating ex who’d hooked up with someone else while she was away at film camp. There was nothing Bridget could say that would change her mind.

 

It had been two months since Winnie had told Raj they needed a “break,” which wasn’t the same thing as a “breakup.” And even if they had broken up, a relationship blossoming from a childhood romance that became official when they were fourteen deserved more than three weeks of mourning before one party moved on to someone else. Even celebrities waited longer than that.

 

The thought caused her hands to tighten on her shovel. She rolled her shoulders, and with a warrior’s grunt, she started digging.

 

Stupid love story, stupid prophecy, stupid everything, she thought as she scooped up heaps of thick black soil. Since she was a kid, her family’s astrologer had predicted that Winnie’s soul mate would meet three unique criteria: his name would start with an R, he’d give her a silver bracelet as a sign of his love, and he’d cross paths with Winnie before her eighteenth birthday.

 

Identifying Raj as the man of her dreams wasn’t too farfetched, since they went to the same school and had grown up in the same community. Not to mention, he’d pulled out all the stops to get her to notice him when they were freshmen. For Winnie, accepting her destiny as truth and believing that her high school boyfriend was her soul mate for life was as easy as rattling off the top ten grossing Bollywood films per decade.

 

But then Raj changed. A lot. Three years later he wasn’t her hipster in shining armor anymore. He’d traded in his collection of graphic T-shirts for polos and his love of movie nights for the tennis team and STEM club.

 

She felt her chest constrict and her heart pound from the exercise and from remembering that moment when Raj had told her he wanted to go to school in Boston instead of New York. He’d followed that truth bomb by asking her to give up her dreams and move to Boston, too.

 

“Winnie! Winnie, are you out here?” Bridget’s voice echoed through the rustling trees and the sound of chirping birds. “I saw the drag marks from your car and across your backyard.”

 

“Shit,” she muttered. She started digging a little faster, tossing dirt in every direction.

 

“Okay, this is nuts,” Bridget yelled. “Where the hell are you?”

 

Winnie tried to block the sounds of branches snapping as she continued to create her movie grave. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Bridget step into the clearing. Her blond hair was tied in a high ponytail, and her shorts and tank were streaked with dirt, as if she’d wrestled her way through the rain forest instead of a small wooded area in Princeton, New Jersey.

 

“Oh. My. God,” Bridget said as she pointed to the boxes. “Are those Raj’s movies? You can’t be serious! I get that I should’ve told you before you got back from camp this morning. It’s just that I wanted to talk to you about this whole thing in person. I know it’s a huge betrayal—”

 

“That’s one way to put it.”

 

“And you’re probably pissed—”

 

Winnie froze. “ ‘Probably pissed’? Are you freakin’ kidding me?” She tossed the shovel to the ground and faced her friend. “No, I’d probably be pissed if I got a B in film class this year. I’d probably be pissed if I gained ten pounds and couldn’t fit into my prom dress. I’m murderous right now because my boyfriend broke up with me online while basically announcing that he cheated! Did you know that he even wrote a Facebook post? My parents and their friends are the only ones who check Facebook. It’s humiliating when your mother tells you that she saw the news on her feed. There are more people throwing me a pity party than extras in the movie Gandhi.”

 

Bridget put up her hands in surrender. “I totally didn’t know he was going to do that, but to be fair, I did warn you that he was hanging out with Jenny Dickens.”

 

The second she heard Jenny’s name, Winnie hocked a loogie. Well, she tried, but she ended up choking and coughing on her own spit.

 

“What the hell was that?”

 

“I can’t hear that man-stealing backstabber’s name without spitting,” Winnie said, pressing a fist to her chest. “It’s a demonstration of how I feel about her.”

 

Bridget snorted. “What movie did you see that one in?”

 

“It’s not funny, Bridget! Damn it, it wasn’t supposed to end like this.” To her horror, tears started to fill her eyes.

 

“Oh crap,” Bridget said, and scrambled forward. The second Winnie felt her friend’s tight hug, a sob broke through her throat. Then another followed, and another, until she couldn’t stop.

 

Bridget held her while she cried for the first time since she’d realized her love story was finally over. Memories circled in her mind like vultures. First kiss, themed dates, Bollywood marathons, film festivals, passionate arguments over movies. She knew that Raj believed in her prophecy because of all the effort that he’d invested in their relationship. Just when she’d started thinking that maybe Raj really was the answer to her family astrologer’s prediction for a happily-ever-after, he changed. Now their relationship was a short caption in a yearbook. They were the cliché high school romance.

 

What a joke.

Customer Reviews

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My So-Called Bollywood Life 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn’t stop reading.
book_junkee More than 1 year ago
This was the exact sort of fluff I was looking for. I really liked Winnie. I loved how devoted to her family she was, how passionate she was about film, and how she went back and forth between wanting to follow the prophecy. Her BFF Bridget was adorable and I loved everything about Dev. Plot wise, it was good. There is a little bit of push and pull, but for the most part, Winnie knows what she wants and doesn’t waiver. Her family was fantastic and the entire story is a great mix of old world culture and modern application. Overall, it was a sweet story with characters who were easy to root for. I have a feeling I’ll be using this for a pick me up when needed. **Huge thanks to Nisha for providing a finished copy free of charge**
ethel55 More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this teen romance. Winnie Mehta's mother and grandmother place a lot of stock in a prediction made by Pandit Ohmi back in India. It involves things like an initial, a silver bracelet and finding her soulmate before she turns 18. She thought she had found all that with Raj, but the summer before senior year, while they were on a break, he started seeing someone else. Winnie is sure the prophecy is over, her love of Bollywood movies and her own filmmaking desires keeping her going. Dev is a fellow film geek, ready to step into the role of Winnie's boyfriend, if she will let him. Winnie even has dreams where a Bollywood star helps her sort through her daily happenings. There are a lot of film references too, it's easy to pick up on them, but to date, I still haven't seen an actual Bollywood movie.
Lisa_Loves_Literature More than 1 year ago
For a YA contemporary to get 5 stars from me, I have to totally connect with a character in that I see myself in them. Or it has to have a topic that really is serious and gets me emotional, like an eating disorder or suicide, etc., which again are things that I feel a personal connection to due to my own personal life. So, you'd think a book about an Indian girl, in a film school, who loves Bollywood movies, would probably not be something easy for me to find a connection to. And in a way, you're right. But, despite the lack of a personal connection for me in that way, I loved this book. Why did I love this book? Because the characters were perfect! And in a way, there were a few, tiny, minuscule personal connections, but those are beside the point. I loved Winnie, her determination, and honestly, I guess her utter obsession with her Bollywood films and how her life could relate to them does speak to me a little in how I reference things in my every day life to movies and tv shows I've watched, as well as books I've read. I was reading a book with a similar theme, ex-boyfriend trying to get girl back, at the same time. And while in that other book, Airports, Exes, and Other Things I'm Over, I was rooting for the ex-boyfriend, in this one, I just was unsure. While there was the whole prediction thing, Raj didn't sit right with me as who she should end up with. I was rooting for Dev almost the whole time. In the end, probably what bumped this book up from the 4.5 star rating I was planning to the full 5 stars was the way that it totally finished up just like an 80s movie would. And as I am such a huge fan of 80s movies, I do kind of relate them to my life in ways that are similar to Winnie and her Bollywood movies, that made me smile and want to put my hand in the air like Judd Nelson at the end of The Breakfast Club with the song "Don't You Forget About Me" by Simple Minds.
kozbisa More than 1 year ago
DISCLAIMER: The closest I have come to watching a Bollywood film was Bride & Prejudice, which is a Bollywood style adaptation of Pride & Prejudice (and quite wonderful, if I do say so myself). However, I do not believe one must be well versed in Bollywood films to enjoy this book, but it may inspire you to check a few out. •Pro: Winnie was wonderful! How I could I not love a girl, who was so fierce and feisty, that she stole back her DVDs and held a burial in the woods for them? This girl had dreams, this girl had goals, and no boy was going to keep her from attaining them. •Pro: Dev, just writing his name brought a smile to my face. He was a good son, a good friend, and absolutely swoon worthy. There were so many things he said and did, that made me all warm and fuzzy and heart-eyed. Add him to the list of superior book boyfriends! •Pro: I may be the only person that loved this, but the setting. You have to understand, there were scenes, which took place walking distance from where I live. It's sort of cool to know every place they went in a book. In fact, I think Sharma fictionalized one of my favorite ice cream places in the book, and now I can't stop thinking about their blend-ins. •Pro: Three cheers for a fantastic bestie. I adored Bridget, and thought she was a pretty spectacular friend. •Pro: The book was so much fun! I know people were staring at me and the stupid grin I was wearing as I read this book. •Pro: I want the Mehta family to adopt me. Seriously, Winnie's parents and her grandmother were so nurturing and loving, and who wouldn't want to be part of an awesome family like that? •Pro: Lots of great bits of Indian culture woven into this tale. We got to sample the food and dress, and even attend an event via this book, and I always love learning more about different cultures. •Pro: The romance was so sweet and adorable, and I had no problem shipping Dev and Winnie. Overall: A fantastic rom-com with a Bollywood touch, which didn't cease to delight me and left me floating on cloud of happiness.
kozbisa More than 1 year ago
DISCLAIMER: The closest I have come to watching a Bollywood film was Bride & Prejudice, which is a Bollywood style adaptation of Pride & Prejudice (and quite wonderful, if I do say so myself). However, I do not believe one must be well versed in Bollywood films to enjoy this book, but it may inspire you to check a few out. •Pro: Winnie was wonderful! How I could I not love a girl, who was so fierce and feisty, that she stole back her DVDs and held a burial in the woods for them? This girl had dreams, this girl had goals, and no boy was going to keep her from attaining them. •Pro: Dev, just writing his name brought a smile to my face. He was a good son, a good friend, and absolutely swoon worthy. There were so many things he said and did, that made me all warm and fuzzy and heart-eyed. Add him to the list of superior book boyfriends! •Pro: I may be the only person that loved this, but the setting. You have to understand, there were scenes, which took place walking distance from where I live. It's sort of cool to know every place they went in a book. In fact, I think Sharma fictionalized one of my favorite ice cream places in the book, and now I can't stop thinking about their blend-ins. •Pro: Three cheers for a fantastic bestie. I adored Bridget, and thought she was a pretty spectacular friend. •Pro: The book was so much fun! I know people were staring at me and the stupid grin I was wearing as I read this book. •Pro: I want the Mehta family to adopt me. Seriously, Winnie's parents and her grandmother were so nurturing and loving, and who wouldn't want to be part of an awesome family like that? •Pro: Lots of great bits of Indian culture woven into this tale. We got to sample the food and dress, and even attend an event via this book, and I always love learning more about different cultures. •Pro: The romance was so sweet and adorable, and I had no problem shipping Dev and Winnie. Overall: A fantastic rom-com with a Bollywood touch, which didn't cease to delight me and left me floating on cloud of happiness.
Michelle Rajan More than 1 year ago
While the Barnes and Noble overview describes the novel as a combination of Stephanie Perkins and Maureen Johnson, it's clear that this novel is 100% Nisha Sharma. And what an amazing voice she has! Even trying to compare her to other authors diminishes the strength of her own writing. She writes with the control of a strong, independent Indian author. I look forward to seeing her lead the way in providing more opportunities for Indians to grow up and see themselves in stories for once. Getting to know Winnie was an absolutely delight. The absolute best part of the book was that it perfectly encompasses the truth of Bollywood: our movies showcase a life of dance and romance, but teach us the value of love in our lives. Don't let the dramatics fool you. This book will leave a lasting impression even if you're not familiar with Bollywood. But I must admit that I intend to reread it and highlight all of my favorite references and Post-it tag the heart-warming scenes. I expect my copy of this book to be pretty colorful soon. Can't wait to read more amazing reviews of this book soon!
AlisonMN More than 1 year ago
My So-Called Bollywood Life is such an enjoyable read. It is a wonderful read and laugh out loud funny. The dynamics between the characters is superb and you feel like you've been transported into the story with them. As summer is just around the corner this is a great book to bring to the pool or the beach. This is one of those books that you cannot put down and keep reading until the very end.
ReadingLlama More than 1 year ago
First off, serious heart-eyes for this cover. I’m a humongous fan of illustrated covers, and I’ve seen some amazing ones lately in YA, but this is my new favorite. Like the story itself, it’s delightfully over-the-top. There’s a prophecy, lots of Bollywood movies (with an extra helping of Shah Rukh Khan), a musical number (at a school dance, of course), a loving and supportive family, and so many laughs. Winnie’s family believes in prophecies because one correctly predicted that Winnie’s parents would find each other. Winnie’s is that she would meet her true love before she turned 18, that his name would start with an “R,” and that he’d give her a silver bracelet. She’s always assumed it would be Raj, a boy who goes to the same New Jersey high school as her. Winnie’s not quite happy with having a prophecy dictate her life, however, and is almost relieved when they break up after he cheats on her over the summer before senior year. Problem is, they still have to see each other at film club, where they’re co-chairs. Raj, naturally, realizes too late what he’s missing, and tries to win her back. The problem is, everything he does makes things worse for Winnie. When she reconnects with Dev, a fellow film buff, she’s ready to wash her hands of the prophecy once and for all. But are things really that simple? “As much as I love Bollywood damsels in distress, I don’t need saving. I’m my own hero.” She flipped her hair over her shoulder. It was a flirt move and such a cliché line, but he’d given her an opening, and any self-respecting film buff would’ve taken it.” Winnie is absolutely adorable. She knows what she wants out of life – well, she’s pretty sure at least – and worries about the prophecy holding her back. I thought Raj was a bit of jerk, loved her best friend Bridget, and thought Dev was absolutely 80s teen movie boyfriend perfect. I loved the humor in the book, especially how Winnie kept trying to find a Bollywood movie to help problem-solve every situation she got herself in to. While I’ve seen a few Bollywood films, I’m not as much of a film buff as Winnie is, and I think each film is explained well enough that someone with only a cursory knowledge of them would be just fine. I will say, the dream sequences that involved scenes from movies I’ve seen were extra hilarious. A lot of the “ethnic” YA I read as a kid involved how second-gen kids had to separate their family’s culture from the person they were outside their home. I was so happy this wasn’t a problem for Winnie! Winnie is proud of her heritage, and not afraid to show it. As a bonus, Winnie’s family is amazingly supportive of her – I think it helps that her dad is also a big Bollywood film fan, even going so far as to have a family film night at almost midnight when Winnie is having a rough time and needs a distraction. Winnie’s nani (her grandma) was also a hoot, and I loved the scenes where they went dress shopping or brought samosas to support her. Overall – is this completely over the top and predictable, with a cartoonishly evil villain and a sappy and sweet resolution? Yes, but so are some of the best Bollywood movies. I had an immensely fun time reading this book, and I cannot wait to see what Ms. Sharma writes next! I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
TheBookCoverGirl More than 1 year ago
I loved the characters in this book! With the minor exception of the first like two or chapters where I had a problem with Winnie, but more on that later. After that though, Winnie did grow on me. She was funny and headstrong and likable. She was passionate and sweet and I loved her relationship with her friends and family. My favorite part about this new wave of own voices books that have been coming out is seeing authentic family relationships and how they are all different, and yet, all the same from my own.  Then there was, of course, the romance. I loved Dev! I want a man who would dance for me! The bar has been raised! If you don't do an entire dance number in my honor then you need to seriously step up your game! My one problem, because of course, I have to complain about something, is that I had some minor problems with Winnie in the first few chapters. She begins the novel by having broken into her boyfriend's house and stealing all of his movies so she can bury them. That's a crime. Like an actual crime. Also, she and her best friend only ever talked about boys. They probably wouldn't pass the Bechdel test if they tried. All that said, I didn't mind too much. I came for a fluffy romance and the book delivered just that.