Recently, I read the ethnic novel, Lovetorn, by Kavita Daswani. Times are tough for Shalini, a sixteen year old Indian girl freshly uprooted from her native country, India, to the United States, where her father now has a position in a nationwide company. Used to her extended family always surrounding her and the comfortable life she has always lived, Shalini is in for a rude awakening when she moves to Los Angeles, where her now-immediate family starts to slowly fall apart. Her mother, pining for her familiar Indian home, is slowly slipping into a state of depression.Shalini, on the other hand, is new to this way of life, and is shunned by what seems like herentire new school, just because she is different. Also, she is not only homesick for India and the shelteredlifestyle she once lived, but now is missing her fiance, Vikram, whom she has been betrothed to since her third birthday. She is constantly thinking of him until she meets Toby. Finding she is woefully attracted to the handsome yet radical flute player, Shalini is trapped between her duty and her desire for love. She had once believed she and Vikram were meant for each other, but Vikram has never made her feel the sensations she now experiences when she sees Toby. Just starting to fit in, Shalini is fearful that if anyone hears of her engagement even her new flame, Toby--she will be an outcast once more. Guilty about her infatuation with the swashbuckling soloist, Shalini does not know which way to turn. Suddenly there are just too many decisions to make.
"He was staring at me. I looked away to avoid his gaze. I was barely breathing. He felt so close, so touchable. The air between us felt heavy, unmoving."
I was really disappointed in this book. All you heard about was Toby. Shalini's obsession with him was maddening! The book actually started out good for the first fifty pages until Toby waltzed into the plot. Then it just kind of got into a pattern-- She likes Toby, then feels guilty that she doesn't love Vikram, she likes Toby, then she feels guilty about Vikram...it just goes on and on. I honestly had to motivate myself so I could get through the next chapter! It seemed like she had nothing better to do than sit in her room fantasizing about Toby. I really wish that the novel focused a little bit more on the other secondary characters and would hone in on their stories more. It was all about Shalini and of course, her knight in shining armor, Toby. One thing I really liked about this book was that it exceptionally portrayed the insecurities of a new student and the difficulty people have accepting new cultures or anyone who is not like them, for that matter.
"I glanced up and saw Sasha and Magali standing by the door, both staring straight at me, huddling close to each other and laughing."
I would recommend this book for ages eight and up, partly because of the vocabulary and partly because of the story plot, which would be difficult to follow for younger readers. I assure you there are no sexual situations in this book, and the content is sparkling clean.
This book is all about how hard it is to fit in, especially when people have a narrow mind when it comes to accepting different ethnic groups, just because they are not alike. Shalini tries to break through all these barriers, and then has the choice to try and forgive those who once tormented her. Trapped in between these two countries, will Shalini finally find her place in her strange new world?
Leopold, Missouri United States of America