As a recent fan of Sonya Lalli’s, I was so intrigued by A Holly Jolly Diwali. And come on, the title is so fun! It was a slow love affair with this one, and I ended up enjoying the romcom aspects so much! Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Twenty-nine-year-old Niki Randhawa has always made practical decisions. Despite her love for music and art, she became an analyst for the stability. She’s always stuck close to home, in case her family needed her. And she’s always dated guys that seem good on paper, rather than the ones who give her butterflies. When she’s laid off, Niki realizes that practical hasn’t exactly paid off for her. So for the first time ever, she throws caution to the wind and books a last-minute flight for her friend Diya’s wedding.
Niki arrives in India just in time to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights, where she meets London musician Sameer Mukherji. Maybe it’s the splendor of Mumbai or the magic of the holiday season, but Niki is immediately drawn to Sam. At the wedding, the champagne flows and their flirtatious banter makes it clear that the attraction is mutual.
When Niki and Sam join Diya, her husband and their friends on a group honeymoon, their connection grows deeper. Free-spirited Sam helps Niki get in touch with her passionate and creative side, and with her Indian roots. When she gets a new job offer back home, Niki must decide what she wants out of the next chapter of her life–to cling to the straight and narrow like always, or to take a leap of faith and live the kind of bold life the old Niki never would have dreamed of.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
A Holly Jolly Diwali has all the high points of a romcom. There’s plenty of tripping, tension, and catching of the feels. From the beginning I was drawn to Niki. The way she feels like she’s played all her cards right, and still been fired and is back to square one. That feeling of always doing the right thing, staying in line, only for it to end up there resonated with me. I think we have this sense that if we work hard and don’t act out, that things will be okay. No better than okay, but good. But that’s just not the way life works.
And Niki’s career exploding is just the beginning. I enjoyed watching her try to be spontaneous. To embrace the things she never would have before. It felt, in some ways, kind of how I might act if our roles were reversed. Additionally, I loved Niki’s family and the tenuous relationship she has with her sister. Sister stories are my sweet spot and their relationship was an unexpected joy. Connected to her family, I enjoyed how Niki examines her emotions as being Indian, but having never spent much time in India. How she didn’t feel like she fit into a community at home, or immediately when visiting India.
How we see ourselves, our culture, and our families. Niki’s struggle to merge Indian and American – and what it means to her – takes the background to her self-discovery. However, I appreciated the way Niki’s story is all about her. The ways she has to learn about herself and explore what she’s thought about herself. I definitely feel like it took me longer to fall in love with A Holly Jolly Diwali, but the last quarter took me by storm. When she has to really examine what she thought about herself. It’s great for romcom fans, for those searching for heroines and self-introspection, and for plenty of dancing.
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