Cover Image: Such Big Dreams

Such Big Dreams

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Member Reviews

I was expecting a little more from this book. I just kept waiting for the *big thing* that was going to happen to give the story an arc, but the closest it came was in the last 5% of the book. Regardless, I enjoyed reading Such Big Dreams. I haven’t read many books set in India, so the cultural aspect was really interesting to me. A solid 3-star read.
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I loved this book! A beautifully-written, unique and compelling story set in a Mumbai described so vividly you can almost feel it. Wonderfully imperfect characters, a fast-moving storyline and deeper themes around well-intentioned but ultimately misguided foreign charity come together to form a spectacular debut. Highly recommended and I look forward to seeing more from Reema Patel.
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In the vein of Girl with a Louding Voice we follow a young woman who has had a rough life and strives for more. Our main character lives in the slums of Mumbai but is able to get a job at a law firm for Civil Justice. Once a new co worker, Alex, joins, the world of opportunities opens up some. We also learn about our main character's past and a horrible tragedy that happened when she was 12. I enjoyed the story though it probably wasnt the biggest stand out. That said I do love stories of Indian women and was in Mumbai in early 2000s so understand the landscape of the slums. It so devastating and the caste system there is still very real. Overall a good look at a different culture and life and a strong woman.
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Such Big Dreams isn't exactly the type of book that I would normally pick up for myself. However, I definitely did enjoy the read and it was a very impressive debut. Main character Rakhi grows up so beautifully right in front of us as she recalls being younger and living on the street and leading up to her standing up for what she feels is right in her adult life. 

This book was a good narrative about how sometimes businesses make decisions based on money and popularity, even if it goes against some of the morals that the same company had previously stood for. It gave a glimpse into the lives in India. However, I will say I wished for more. Rakhi also uses quite a bit of Hindi, which is great and I love when books do this. But, there was no explanation for these words and not enough context clues for us to figure them out. That may have helped.
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This is a good book. The main character is someone that you can emphasize with and root for. I like the way the story unfolded and where you get to learn  the details of her life.
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I wanted to like this but it just ended up being okay for me. I thought it was way too slowly paced and not a whole lot happens for a majority of the book. I like where it ended up, where Rahki got to, but  the journey there was not interesting enough and barely held my attention.
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This was a wonderful, eye-opening story. About a girl, forced to raise herself at a very young age, she was at the mercy of everyone else after her parents died. Fast forward to her being an adult, she's now working for an attorney in an office who fights for the underdogs - mainly those involved in unfair treatment by landlords and government.

I found Rahki's voice and perspective unique. There are not a lot of books that focus on children living on the streets in Mumbai (or the slums). Rahki's POV was also unique as she tried to understand walking the fine line of growing up defined by the worst moment of her life (a moment when she was 12) and trying to find her own voice and independance as she grew up and got older. I loved her perspective of the interns, the confusion around Alex and Babloo and the details of her life experiences. Her push to find out who she was, her outrage to call out injustice, made me cheer for her the whole book. I was so invested in what woud happen, I hung on every word. This was a great read.

A huge thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.
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This is a fascinating look at Mumbai which I visited in 1974 when I was in college on Semester at Sea. Protagonist Rakhi works for Justice For All as an office assistant. But when new intern, Alex arrives things change quickly as she has many of her own ideas but is often forced to do what others expect her to do. Living in the slums, she tries to hide this fact as many of her co-workers make snide remarks which of course hurts her feelings. But now she is thrown into circumstances she is unaware of and forced to make decisions she might not make on her own. This is an in-depth look at a country and people who are often un-noticed and Patel brings a fresh perspective to this incredible novel!
Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!
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Such Big Dreams is an insteresting story of a former street kid who now works as an office assistant at a civil rights law firm.  The book takes a hard look at the Bombay slums, gangs, equal rights, and what it means to better yourself in life.  I thought the writing was great and the characters were strong.  I did not understand some of the terms in the story but that did not stop me from enjoying it.
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This is a Rakhi support page, first and foremost. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It made me mad, suspicious, emotional, and proud all in the span of 326 pages and I honestly want more. At its core, this book is about choosing yourself in a world where people will keep choosing for you. It was honestly heartbreaking to see the people that Rakhi thought were he strongest support system consistently disappoint me as a reader and I have to say. There were some people I never trusted (cough cough Alex), but seeing how everything else played out was the upsetting reminder that money and power will always win no matter how much you try. Seeing the growth Rakhi showed throughout her story and coming to terms with the choices she had to make kept me hooked in.
A quick note for the author: I loved how Patel wrote Rakhi’s actions and internal dialogue. There was no question on what the tone of the book was and seeing her interact with all these people that see her as just some slum dweller rather than the intelligent person she actually is so well told. I also loved the inclusion of the Hindi language in the story. It adds to the storytelling, Rakhi’s voice, and it helps me as the reader get immersed into the culture.
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After the death of her parents, Bhansari was sent to an uncle’s home, but when that didn’t work out, she ran away to Mumbai, where she connected with a group of street kids willing to take her in and show her what was needed to survive. Babloo, the eldest boy, was the group leader, and changed her name to Rakhi after a popular actress. The group survived by stealing from tourists, sleeping on the streets, and dodging the police, but when Babloo has an MP3 player and asks a street vendor about it, the man grabs it from him and stomps on it. Babloo and Rakhi plan revenge, burning the man’s stall and setting him ablaze as well. The two were arrested, and Babloo takes the blame, going to prison while Rakhi is sent to a girls’ school. 

An attorney takes an interest in Rakhi, and sends her for English lessons and offers her a job at Justice For All once she is released from the home. While Rakhi is grateful for the job, she feels stuck, still living in a slum and spending her days brewing tea and cleaning up after the other office workers. When a young intern from Canada named Alex arrives, he fills Rakhi’s head with many possibilities for her life’s trajectory that do not involve Justice For All nor the slums she is living in.

Rakhi is a strong young woman, who has survived more than anyone should have to in their lifetime, and I felt the frustration of just going around in circles, get up to go to work, to go home and sleep, to get up and do it all over again. I kept waiting for something different to happen, and while it eventually did, the book ended before we see if she succeeded in her new role. Not having any experience with this area of the world, I was curious and excited to learn about Mumbai, but I feel as though I was trapped within Rakhi’s struggle.
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I felt like this book was laying it on thick to get us to FEEL THINGS but it felt flat and forced to me.
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Rakhi is a twenty-three-year-old haunted by the grisly aftermath of an incident that led to the loss of her best friend eleven years ago. Constantly reminded she doesn't belong, Rakhi lives alone in a Mumbai slum, working as a lowly office assistant at Justice For All, a struggling human-rights law organization headed by the renowned lawyer who gave her a fresh start.

Fiercely intelligent and in possession of a sharp wit and an even sharper tongue, Rakhi is nobody's fool, even if she is underestimated by everyone around her. Rakhi's life isn't much, but she's managing. That is, until Rubina Mansoor, a fading former Bollywood starlet, tries to edge her way back into the spotlight by becoming a celebrity ambassador for Justice For All. Steering the organization into uncharted territories, she demands an internship for Alex, a young family friend from Canada and Harvard-bound graduate student. Ambitious, persistent, and naïve, Alex persuades Rakhi to show him "the real" India. In exchange, he'll do something to further Rakhi's dreams in a transaction that seems harmless, at first.

Loved this debut novel - really connected with Rakhi as a character she's scrappy and ambitious and isn't afraid to be herself. I also really enjoyed the portrayal of Mumbai - I always love reading stories about place that I don't often get to visit and this gives that insider view. I'm not a fan of flashbacks usually but this book did it pretty well and it helped shape the story. 4/5 Stars 

Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for my digital copy.
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Thanks to Netgalley, I was able to read this book early. The storyline was okay but I couldn't connect to any characters in the story. It just didn't stand out to me.
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Such Big Dreams is a profoundly impressive debut that explores hidden depths of the "real" Mumbai through the eyes of a tenacious underdog, Rakhi, as she strives to carve out a life of her own in a world that wants to use her for its own ends,

Three-sentence summary: Twenty-three-year-old Rakhi lives in the shadow of tragedy, but makes her way through the world thanks to her steady job at Justice For All, an NGO on the brink of closure. When a powerful family offers their support to the organization in exchange for an internship for their naive Canadian friend, Rakhi strikes a deal with wide-eyed Alex: she'll show him the "real" India, and he'll help her apply to college. While pursuing her dreams at first seems harmless, Rakhi soon finds herself entangled in other, more powerful people's ambitions, and must decide once and for all whether to remain in the safety of what she knows, or take a risk for the sake of a better, fuller life.

Several reviewers balked at the heavy incorporation of Hindi words without definitions or contextual explanations, but I view this as an intentional choice to force readers to experience exclusion from the "true" culture in the novel. We are outsiders in Rakhi's world, and while she's happy to show us around, cultural barriers ensure we'll never see the full truth. 

The book's first half lacks tension, so much that I'm not sure every reader who picks up the book will stick around for its conclusion. Such Big Dreams is more character and culture study than compelling fiction, but a worthwhile read all the same. 

Thank you to RHPG/Ballantine for the advance copy.
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When all of your relationships have been transactional, how do you know when you’re actually free? With a poverty stricken childhood that made her into a survivor, Rakhi finds herself straddling two different worlds as she tries to find her way. Although the writing is worthy, I couldn’t get into the story and ended up putting it down.
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I am sorry to say that I did not finish reading this book. I read about 28% before putting it down because it just didn't pull me in. I was frustrated with multiple characters and unfortunately not interested enough to see it through. As someone who has traveled to India multiple times, I did appreciate hearing the Indian perspective of foreigners traveling to India and was hoping to learn more, but I ultimately decided to put the book down and move on.
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Loved this one. The writing style drew me in and I was absolutely cheering for Rakhi the while way. Full of twists and turns, I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a thought provoking, hearty read.
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Rhaki has been on her own since early childhood and has learned to survive by any means. She has found family in those that she navigates the city if Mumbai with. When that family is broken apart when the youngsters are arrested, Rhaki finds a new family in the lawyers at Justice for All, where she is an office assistant. Her life turns upside down when those that she believed to be doing good actually were all corrupt. As much as I wanted to like this book, I had difficulty getting immersed in the story. The amount of Hindi language that was throughout the entire story was very difficult to understand, and I found myself just skimming over and not quite understanding exactly what was being said. I also had a very hard time with some of the decisions that Rhaki made throughout, and I just couldn't find the connection with her that I do with most main characters in books. I found myself not really liking her by the end of the book. All in all, I think this just wasn't a book for me, but feel that others might find it very interesting. 3 stars. Thank you, NetGalley for the eARC.
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This debut novel was at times heartbreaking and poignant. Rakhi lost her parents young and was turned out to the streets. She is taken in by an attorney who runs Justice for All and is offered a new job and a fresh start. This was definitely an immersive look at life in Mumbai. It was very raw and definitely rooted for Rakhi.
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Thank you #ballantinebooks  and  #NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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