Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Publication Date: February 5, 2019 by Berkley Books
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Source: Publisher via Mail
One devoted modern girl + a meddlesome, traditional grandmother = a heartwarming multicultural romantic comedy about finding love where you least expect it
Raina Anand may have finally given in to family pressure and agreed to let her grandmother play matchmaker, but that doesn't mean she has to like it--or that she has to play by the rules. Nani always took Raina's side when she tried to push past the traditional expectations of their tight-knit Indian-immigrant community, but now she's ambushing Raina with a list of suitable bachelors. Is it too much to ask for a little space? Besides, what Nani doesn't know won't hurt her...
As Raina's life spirals into a parade of Nani-approved bachelors and disastrous blind dates, she must find a way out of this modern-day arranged-marriage trap without shattering her beloved grandmother's dreams.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Matchmaker’s List was one of my most anticipated reads of 2019, and I’m so glad I was able to read an early copy of the novel. Overall I enjoyed the story, but there were some aspects that would have allowed me to enjoy the story more if I knew them before going in, and I want to share that with y’all so you’re aware before starting.
This novel is marketed as a romance, and I don’t really think it should be. There is a romance in the book, and the premise is about Raina going on dates her grandmother sets her up on, but the typical romance novel elements take a back seat to some of the other things going on in the story.
“The world was disturbing enough as it was; not just across the world – desserts and oceans away – but right here at home. And before anyone could grow up, grow the courage to change any of it, surely home was where it had to start.”
My one issue with the novel itself is kind of a spoiler to part of the book, but I feel the need to talk about it. Raina gets frustrated with her grandmother for setting her up on so many dates, and partway through the novel doesn’t correct her grandmother when asked if she’s gay. Raina uses this new excuse to get out of continuously being set up on dates with random men. During this time, her community is split between those that support her and those that don’t want anything to do with her. I get what the author was trying to do, show how divided the Indian community is about homosexuality, but I think it would have worked better if the character was ACTUALLY gay. Instead Raina deals with all the hate and basically expulsion from the group, but then admits she’s not gay and is welcomed back. It was too easy an out, the author didn’t have to explore what it’s actually like being gay in this community.
“In search of a husband. Is that all that mattered about me? And what about after I’d found a husband? Who was I then: A wife? A mother? Eventually a grandmother? Is that all an Indian woman would ever be? Could ever be? Someone defined by her relationship to others?”
In her novel Lalli writes wonderfully about the struggles some Indians, specifically women, have with balancing what they want to do/be with what is expected of them. I loved reading about the insight into this culture, and a look into the Indian diaspora. Not only does Raina describe her family and their values, but what others in her community value as well and how it’s different for them even though they’re part of the same culture and part of the same community.
Heads up that there is a toxic relationship in the novel. Not in the sense that he’s abusive, but he and Raina want different things out of a relationship and even though he knows what Raina wants he keeps leading her on and is unwilling to give her what she wants. This was executed well, because when we think of toxic relationships we think of the extreme, not more subtle things like this.
I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read this book, and I can’t wait to read more from this author, I really enjoyed her writing style and her characters!