Cover Image: Arya Khanna's Bollywood Moment

Arya Khanna's Bollywood Moment

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This book was so much fun. It is the story of Arya, a high school senior in the thick of college applications, friend drama, first love and student council stress while also helping her sister plan her wedding, full of Hindu traditions and customs. Arya is sharp and witty and as a bonus for us booknerds, she works in a little bookstore which sounds like a dream. I loved seeing her grow, find herself and reconnect with her sister. I loved the pop culture references. Her extended family added additional humor. And I loved learning so much about her traditions. It was just a feel good, heartwarming book.

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I got an ARC of this book.

I got an ebook, but for some reason I couldn't focus on it. I blamed myself and borrowed the audiobook from the library once it was officially published. Then I was blowing through it. So this might partially be on me.

Despite blowing through it, because the narrator doesn't stop, I just never really got invested. It isn't a bad book, it was just not for me it seems. It takes a lot for me to get invested in a straight romance and originally I thought this book could do it. It just didn't really get going for me. No one grabbed my attention. There was a lot of drama to start and then that drama just wasn't entertaining.

It is worth trying if you are interested, it might work better for you!

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Arya Khanna's Bollywood Moment sounded like a lovely, mostly fluffy read when I picked it up. It's so much more. It does include descriptions of India cultural traditions and events, as expected, but the relationships have much more depth and the characters more dimension.
Arya loves her sister and celebrates when she returns home for her wedding month. But Arya still carries the anger and hurt from Alina's abrupt departure from the family, and the resulting drama that she's had to weather. On top dealing with her mother's mental illness and her constant conflicts with Alina, she's dealing with the disappointment of having to serve as Vice President of her Class, which she thinks went to an undeserving opponent. Dean is completely unqualified beyond his popularity, in Arya's eyes, and it rankles to play second fiddle to his lead. Plus, she's stuck working closely with him all year.
Arya learns that life doesn't work like Bollywood movies, although they have their place in bringing her happiness, and that while it's messier, the rewards are richer for the struggles she faces.

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Structured like a Bollywood film plus intermissions, Arya Khanna’s Bollywood Moment by Arushi Avachat follows Arya helping her family prepare for her sister’s Shaadi, dealing with her feelings about her sister’s absence, and facing a disappointing start to her senior year while being the family peacekeeper and muddling through the breakup between her best friends.

Avachat’s vivid writing with detailed descriptions uses the senses to capture the readers’ imagination. Her unique narrative style of structuring her story like a Bollywood film perfectly fits her theme and protagonist. It also works for her multilayered story with multiple conflicts. However, if you’re unfamiliar with Bollywood films, it may go over your head like it did for me initially. I wanted to read it to learn more about Shaddai season and wedding preparations. But Avachat gave me that, plus an unexpected, insightful exploration of how complicated relationships are and how easily you can lose people important to you if you avoid problems and fail to communicate with each other. Also, don’t read while hungry! So much food talk.

Because she wants to enjoy her family being back together again now that her sister Alina has returned from school, Arya tries to repress the resentment she still feels over Alina’s abandonment as her family prepares for her sister’s Shaddai. She also mediates her sister’s fights with their mother and cheerfully welcomes her future brother-in-law into the family.

Arya’s senior year is falling short of her excitement and dreams. Arya must balance her classes and part-time bookshop job while learning to partner with her rival, Dean Merriweather, on the student council. And she’s stuck in the middle of her two best friends after their horrible breakup.

While Arya strives to keep the peace at school, home, and between her BFFs, Shaadi season teaches Arya that change is inevitable, her sister won’t always be living at home with her, she can’t fix or solve everyone’s problems—including her Mamma’s sadness—and friendships must evolve. Life doesn’t always work out like her adored Bollywood movies, but sometimes, the last person you expect may give you a preview of your dream sequence just when you need it the most.

A hopeless romantic and ardent reader, Arya loves Bollywood films and uses them to escape her life. Arya fears change. Unfortunately, her life is currently jam-packed with changes at home and school. She’s in constant conflict with Dean, her frustratingly attractive student council rival who won the election against her to become President. Now, she must work with him to plan the fall festival and formal. I enjoyed Dean and Arya’s funny, sweet, snarky, entertaining interactions, sparring and banter. Arya’s interactions and developing relationship with her nemesis, Dean, are a bright spot that lightens the book’s tone.

While the novel is a little more dramatic and emotional than I expected, it’s a compelling teen/YA romance about the difficulty in navigating relationships with siblings, friends, and parents as life changes for everyone and learning to adjust to those changes without losing relationships with people you care about. Avachat explores—with care and nuance—the tricky adjustment of an elder sibling leaving home, its effect on the sibling relationship/bond, and the awkward situation of being stuck in the middle of two best friends who started dating but broke up. To complicate things, Arya’s mom is going through some things, and their relationship is distant. Being her sister and mom’s peacemaker and go-between has only worsened it.

Avachat nicely balances the novel’s shifting tones of humor, drama, and angst and multiple storylines to keep the novel’s pacing steady. Arya Khanna’s Bollywood Moment is a funny, angsty, dramatic, and intensely emotional teen/YA romance about friendship, enemies to lovers, family, proving yourself, parent/child relationships, sibling relationships, wedding planning, and family drama/messy families.

Wednesday Books provided an advanced review copy via Netgalley for review.

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There are so many layers at play in this book: trouble at school within Arya’s friend group, her contentious relationship with academic rival Dean, and the general tumult of senior year. All of that is more than enough to manage, but Arya must also help her sister Alina prepare for her wedding, which includes numerous smaller ceremonies and celebrations, not to mention a new outfit for each event.

And let me tell you: the aunty drama is real! Oh, the shade!

I know I’m not the target demographic for YA books and that adolescent brains are still developing, but there are times when I come across a narrator who is being unfair or unreasonable with their interpersonal conflicts. I didn’t get that sense here: Arya is a reliable narrator who is reasonable in her approach, and like many books, conflicts could have been avoided with a single conversation, but people of all ages tend to be avoidant rather than direct, so we can’t fault Arya for choosing to ignore/avoid big conversations. This is especially true considering how much she has going on in her life. It’s easy for an issue to persist because of the expectation that it will be resolved—but of course, when it doesn’t resolve, it might feel too late to engage.

I would absolutely recommend Arya Khanna’s Bollywood Moment. This is a lovely book full of family and food. I loved all the cinematic shoutouts and I definitely want to watch all the of the movies on the recommended list. I can’t wait to read Avachat’s next book.

I received a digital ARC of this book from St. Martin’s/NetGalley

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Solid 4 stars. Arya's story is sweet and it's messy, in the best humanly way. Avachat tells the story of how easily life can become messy when we avoid communication and hide from the scary bits. Love Arya and her family and their story and the friendships forged and fought for while Arya figures out how to navigate big changes in her senior year.

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This book was fun and easy to read. I loved learning more about the culture. The difficult family dynamics (mother-daughter, sister-sister) were easy to relate to. The character growth and storyline were well done.

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In support of the SMP boycott, I will be withholding my review of this title until SMP speaks out. If the boycott is resolved, I will update with a full review.

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An enjoyable YA read! I was expecting a sweet YA romance from this and while we for sure get that, this book is much more! This book explored family relationships, first love, and friendships.

You might enjoy this book if you like:
-rivals to lovers
-YA coming of age stories
-strong themes of friendship

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This was so fun! I loved all of the characters and their stories. They were deeply complex but also still enjoyable and believable. It was also a great look into an Indian wedding. I didn't want this story to end!

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Arya Khanna is entering Senior year with too much on her plate. Her sister is getting married but her family is still tense over her quitting college and being gone for years. Her best friends started dating and then broke up, making things awkward for their little trio. And most annoying of all, her school rival won student council president and she now has to spend time with him. But it's time for Arya to accept that life is change and that some things are not as clear-cut as she always thought them to be.

I really wanted to like this one a lot more, but it just didn't offer anything that I hadn't read before. It's the typical YA of an overachiever high school student with a rival who isn't actually a rival, but at least it's dressed up in a Bollywood outfit to help it stand out a little. Funnily enough, is the only reason I found it mildly entertaining. The Bollywood references and details of the Khanna's culture were things to focus on when everything else felt been there, done that.
I will say, though, that Avachat's writing is good and you really get a feel for Arya's troubles and what she's going through. Which is sad because it makes me want to give this a higher rating, but I just didn't enjoy the story all that much.

Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the read!

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Admittedly, I am likely not the target audience for this YA novel. It weaves the drama, conflict, and triumph of shaadi wedding preparations with the MC's senior year of high school, including rich cultural representation and relatable coming of age experiences.

Sincere thanks to St. Martin's Press, Wednesday Books, and NetGalley for an advanced reader copy.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

This is a stand-alone YA novel featuring Arya Khanna. She is in her last year of high school getting ready to apply for colleges, her sister is getting married, but her two best friends recently broke up, and her mom seems to be spending a lot more time alone in her room lately.

Lately I've been finding that YA is not for me, but this one is making me rethink that! There are moments of typical high school fighting where you just want to yell at them to talk, but then there is the descriptions of the food, and the wedding, all of the gorgeous dresses, as well as more mature topics.


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Arya is a high school senior who is about to get a Bollywood spin on her life when her sister gets engaged and she has to navigate family drama, friend drama, and an unexpected crush. I enjoy the India Cultural and so much was into this story. A great read.

Overall, it is an excellent debut novel for Arushi Avachat. Thank you.

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<b> Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for access to this title. All opinions expressed are my own.</b>

Read this if you like...

✔Enemies to Lovers Romance
✔Imperfect Protagonists who are called on their actions
✔Nods to Jane Austen novels
✔Characters who work in bookstores that readers want to visit
✔ Sister relationships
✔Bollywood Movies
✔Traditional Weddings
✔Books that make you smile continuously
✔ An accurate depiction of mental illness
✔A satisfying ending

All of the above are the reasons that I believe <i> Arya Khanna's Bollywood Moment</i> is worth your attention. I got sucked into the story quite fast and just felt the whole experience was enjoyable. There was no insta-love, the author took her time in letting the romance build which was perfect. I also like that Arya's mother's struggle with mental illness is left as something that is ongoing and that isn't 100% miraculously fixed by the end of the story. But rather it is about Arya accepting that it is her mother's struggle and that she can be there and be supportive and it isn't on her to try and fix it.

I felt the story was a great book to add to the classroom library. Familial love, friendships, and romantic love are a great triangle of a novel.

Publication Date: 09/01/24
Goodreads Review 30/01/24

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The protagonist, Arya, is a character who, despite her good intentions, finds herself entangled in situations where her compulsion to fix everything becomes a double-edged sword. The complexities of Arya falling in love with her enemy while dealing with family drama and the silence of her best friend added depth and richness to the narrative.

The interpersonal dynamics between Arya, her mom, sister, and best friend were expertly woven into the plot, creating an authentic and emotionally charged storyline. Arya's growth as a character, particularly in learning from her experiences, was a rewarding journey. The transformation into a better person showcased the power of self-discovery and personal development.

The exploration of Arya's relationship with Lisa, despite its challenges and Arya's initial inability to see beyond her own experiences, provided a nuanced perspective on personal relationships. While Lisa's selfishness may have initially blinded Arya, her eventual growth and understanding added a satisfying layer to the narrative.

Overall, "Bollywood Movement" was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and I appreciate being a part of Arya's story.

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Arya Khanna's Bollywood Moment is a great story that does a great job of capturing the perspective of a teenager. It has funny moments but also deals with more difficult topics like family dynamics and friendship difficulties.

In a lot of ways this book reversed the usual plot structure of a romance book (even a YA one). Arya had drama with her family and friends but on the romantic side things developed without a lot of conflict after some initial misunderstandings. I thought this was really interesting because there are times when romantic partners are supporting someone through family drama instead of the other way around and I think we see that less often as the conflict driving a book than the other way around.

I also liked that Arya made teenage mistakes. She saw most problems from her perspective and didn't think about how her actions might affect other people at times. Her problems were all-consuming and she sometimes wasn't able to see when other people were also struggling. I think this is much more accurate than portraying teenagers as tiny adults.

I recommend this one for anyone who likes a story about family and teen drama with some romance thrown in. I think this is one that could be enjoyed by adults or teens but the primary audience is teens (as it should be for a YA book).

🌶️ - Completely closed door only a few chaste kisses.

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This was a pretty cute YA, though slightly on the standard side.

The romance component had some cute moments, but to me, it was more on the weaker side. However, where this story was strongest was definitely in the relationship and dynamics among Arya, her sister, and her mother. The messiness of family dynamics, expectations, and change felt very realistic, and this part of the story had a lot of heart.

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“Arya Khanna's Bollywood Moment” by Arushi Avachat is a YA contemporary romance set in northeastern USA about Arya Khanna, an Indian-American teen in her last year of high school whose estranged elder sister, Alina, is home in the months preparing for her wedding.

I generally like YA books, they’re easy reads, entertaining, and often with engaging emotional and psychological exploration of families, friends, self-discovery and personal growth.

This book was strange in that it felt like a book about adults. Or, at least my high school experience was way more juvenile than Arya and her friends. There’s a lot of dating, comments about regular shopping therapy, there’s even a Friendsgiving we’re told it’s hosted every year by a secondary character – they’re 17, how many years are they inviting their entire academic year to Thanksgiving events? There are the obligatory references to exams and university admissions, but I just felt like – for all Arya has never kissed a boy, she’s having conversations and interactions with others I didn’t have until my late 20s. How Arya manages to watch four-hour Bollywood movies and still study for midterms and act on student government is a mystery not solved by the author.

I also thought there were some under-explored issues here, such as the mental illness of Arya’s mother and the dubious relationship between the parents (the dad is perpetually happy and always at work, and it’s clear the author – like Arya – can’t decide if he’s a bad husband/father, oblivious, avoiding his wife and children, or is a loving-if-absentee-dad).

There’s also some friendship breakdown moments that I didn’t love (Arya taking on some guilt that I think was totally misplaced).

Was it a bit basic that Dean antagonizes Arya because he likes her? Yes. But, don’t worry, Arya uses the phrase “toxic masculinity” at some point and the needling is described as historical and from Arya’s not-too-reliable point of view.

Overall, I did enjoy this book for the teenage enemies-to-lovers elements. A cute read, but I liked “Better Than the Movies” a whole lot more. 3.5/5

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This was a cute YA romance with a complicated family. I fell for Arya and her desire for control. I think teens will be able to relate to her losing the election, sister getting married, working with a high school rival, and figuring things out. This is definitely perfect for a high school YA reader.

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