Sonya Singh’s Sari, Not Sari is a delicious treat of a rom-com, the perfect spring and summer read. It’s the book that once you finish the last sentence, you clutch it to your chest and start counting down until it makes its appearance on the silver screen (because you just KNOW it is meant to be adapted to film. The characters! The costumes!) What makes this delightful confection the perfect spring read? A fantastic Bollywood-inspired plot full of lovable characters, with a can’t wait to see what happens next plot, a deeper soul journey for the main character, and intersectional diversity all combine into this fun-filled, but with depth, book.
Manny Dogra is on the path to having it all: she’s the founder and CEO of a successful company founded on the principles of breaking up with dignity, engaged to a handsome architect, and is dealing with her grief over losing her parents by throwing herself into work. Manny is already feeling insecure about her lack of connection to her culture when a trifecta of circumstances hammers it home: a magazine cover whitewashes her, a potential client begins demanding exceptions be made due to cultural circumstances that he expects her to understand, and she has forgotten Diwali…again. Manny slowly begins to realize that her parents emphasized the American aspect of her Indian-American upbringing, and she’s tired of being on the outside looking in on all things Indian. She strikes a deal with her potential client: she’ll make an exception to her company’s policy and he will take her to his brother’s wedding, giving her a cultural crash course.
This novel absolutely swept me off of my feet. The whirlwind romance, coupled with the depth of relatable, lovable Manny confronting her grief and finding her way back to her culture, is a winning combination.
The cast of characters is part of what makes this novel so impossible to put down. Every character, from the main players to supporting roles, is well developed and relatable. The intersectionality of the characters, from LGBTQ+ representation to cultural representations, is part of what makes these characters so relatable. Our world is varied, diverse, and intersectional– and so is Manny’s. This kind of representation is crucial, and it is so satisfying to read a book that does this well (and this book does it so well). I love how there are universal themes but with spectacular Indian-American representation.
Sari truly feels like a book version of a Bollywood movie– the coincidences! The drama! The clothes! Don’t even get me started on the clothes. The outfits are a character unto themselves. Honestly, this novel has the best clothing descriptions I’ve ever read, all presented in a way that feels seamless and apt, without slowing the pace or bogging down the reader with extraneous details. Singh truly has the perfect balance with her imagery, so the reader can see the story play out in their mind’s eye with startling clarity.
The clothes won’t be the only imagery that has you drooling. The descriptions of food will have you DoorDashing your favorite South-Asian cuisines to your door every other chapter. I’m still dreaming of these delectable dishes, long after I finished the last sentence.
Though the plot wraps up a bit quick at the end, it left me hoping for a sequel… Maybe starring some of our favorite beloved side characters getting their own plot and we get to check in with Manny! The positive women friendships are also such a refreshing plot point. So many novels pit women against each other, and I love seeing positive friendships in books that mirror the women uplifting women I see in my everyday life.
Sari, Not Sari is perfect for fans of Netflix’s Never Have I Ever, Sophie Kinsella readers, and Sonali Dev’s Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors, as all have strong, unapologetic women getting stuff done, intersectional representation, positive female friendships, hunky romantic leads through the female gaze, and food descriptions that basically require you to eat while reading.
Sonya Singh’s Sari, Not Sari will be available April 5, 2022. Thank you to the author, Simon & Schuster, and NetGalley for a free digital copy such that I could write this review. All opinions are my own.
You can pre-order Sari, Not Sari from Bookshop.org here and from Amazon here. Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org and Amazon. I will earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you click through and make a purchase.