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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Rearranged Life by Annika Sharma - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

For Nithya family is incredibly important. She always does what's being expected of her, as that's how she's been raised. Nithya is a model student and wants to have a career in medicine. She's also accepted she'll have an arranged marriage, but she's not ready to start meeting potential candidates yet. Nithya also wants to have some college experience and when she's at a party something goes horribly wrong. Fortunately the kind and handsome James is there to help her out. It's the beginning of a strong friendship.

Nithya likes spending time with James and he's easy to get along with. They have a lot in common and they fall in love with each other head over heels. This puts Nithya in a difficult position, will she choose to follow the dreams her family has for her and give up her own or will she listen to her heart and be with James? Will she ever have the chance to be happy or will her heart be broken no matter which path she chooses? What will Nithya decide and will she be able to handle the consequences of this decision?

The Rearranged Life is a beautiful story about true love. Nithya is a fantastic person. She's super smart, she's a loving daughter, she's responsible and she's kind. I loved how she always thinks things through and never makes rash decisions. She doesn't only think about herself, she also thinks about how her behavior affects others and I loved that. She and James have a great bond. It was fun to see how well they get along and I enjoyed reading about their families and their values. They have plenty of sparks, there's a deep intellectual connection and I was endeared by how sweet they are together, which are all very important aspects of a good relationship. I really liked how well thought through Annika Sharma writes about this special couple.

I love reading about different cultures and The Rearranged Life immediately captivated me. I admired how informative Annika Sharma's writing is, while her story remains entertaining and easy to read I've learned a lot from The Rearranged Life as well. She writes about Nithya's family and their expectations in a fantastic open way that made it possible to understand all of Nithya's feelings about the dilemma she's facing. Annika Sharma skillfully does this through surprising and intriguing twists and turns and many fascinating scenes that kept piquing my interest.

Annika Sharma has a fabulous rhythmic writing style that made me fly through the pages of The Rearranged Life. I was enchanted by the story. I'm a big fan of books about true love and this story put a huge smile on my face. Annika Sharma makes her main characters come to life very well. I love how she writes about their thoughts and emotions. She's written a complete and balanced story. I like smart main characters and that made this book extra wonderful for me. I highly recommend The Rearranged Life, it's a terrific romantic book.

Advice

If you love reading romantic stories about smart and strong main characters from different cultural backgrounds The Rearranged Life is an absolute must-read.

About Annika Sharma


Born a Delhi girl and raised in central Pennsylvania, Annika Sharma followed her Penn State-loving heart to college in Happy Valley. There, she graduated with two Bachelor's degrees in Biobehavioral Health and Neuro-Psychology. A career teaching young children soon followed. After two years of working in early education, she paused for a summer before embarking on her graduate school career, and wrote her first novel, The Rearranged Life, during her time off. Shortly after earning her Master's degree in Early Childhood Special Education, she was signed to Donaghy Literary Agency--a move that landed her a book deal for The Rearranged Life with Curiosity Quills press. The novel was released in 2015.

In March of 2017, her three-book series about an Indian-American group of friends, each with their own unique and challenging cultural love stories, was picked up by Sourcebooks. The first of the three books will be published in Fall of 2018.

Annika currently lives in New York City and is pursuing another Master's degree in Public Health from George Washington University, while juggling an internship and her writing career. A Gryffindor and Scorpio, she is a lover of endless conversations, college football, traveling, books, all things related to England, dancing, superhero movies and coffee.

Links

Website // Facebook // Instagram // Twitter

Interview

1) Can you tell a bit about yourself?

Of course! My name is Annika, and I'm obviously a writer. I'm also currently finishing up my second Master's degree in Public Health, focusing on maternal, child and reproductive health. In my spare time, I'm a big fan of traveling, reading (obviously!), shopping online (biggest vice EVER!), spending time with loved ones, photography and cooking. My first book (The Rearranged Life) came out a couple years ago, and I'm thrilled to be on the blog featuring it!

2) in The Rearranged Life Nithya is growing up in two different cultures, what inspired you to write a story about this?

Well, like Nithya, I also grew up similarly. Much of the book is similar to my life--I attended the same university Nithya does, I moved to the United States as a baby and grew up here, but I come from a traditional Indian, Telugu-speaking family. Being the daughter of immigrants, there's an interesting balance you have to strike and I imagine it's the same for all first generation children. We straddle a line between the "old culture" and fitting into the one we moved into, and that can sometimes be at odds. I wanted to write a story that really encapsulated what it's like, and how sometimes, you have no idea how to make a choice or make those two cultures work together.

3) Like you Nithya is a dedicated student, how have you used your own experiences for your story and what do you like the most about studying?

I love to learn. Total geek here! I looove history, new facts, and I'm so attracted to people who are smarter than I am. What I like about studying and learning is that the world is SO BIG and there are so many things out there--and the more you learn and study, the more of the world you get to experience right from your chair in your home.

4) You write about the expectations of Nithya’s family when it comes to marriage, how did you get the idea to use this topic for a story and was it difficult to write about?

As I went through college and as I've gone through my twenties, like any girl or guy, my friends and I have fallen in and out of love. Sometimes its been with Indians and other times it has been with people who aren't--and both have benefits and pitfalls! My goodness, the drama that has followed all these relationships...I wanted to explore that. The struggle that first generation children experience is often seen in love affairs because that's when you're deciding who you want to be with and whether they tie into that struggle between cultures. Sometimes it works in favor of one of the backgrounds. Other times, its a battle for the person you love. I think that's universal. It was difficult to write about sometimes because I wanted to be clear and show that Nithya's parents have a point--but I also believe in making your choices and following your heart. I didn't want to be in favor of love marriages or arranged marriages throughout the book, because both sides have points. I wanted to show a realistic perspective and a balanced one, and I think that was tough to do sometimes.

5) You love to travel, can you share a special experience?

There have been so many! Studying abroad in Italy when I was in college was extraordinary because I'm a history buff. Visiting London and the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studios was so special because I had gotten my deal for The Rearranged Life three weeks prior to it, and one of the first things they say when you enter the studios is, "It all started because of a book." It was incredibly empowering and awe-inspiring...AND I just got back from Scotland yesterday! I went to Edinburgh, and seeing the Christmas festival lights against the background of the old city and against the steep cliffs of Edinburgh Castle along with someone I love was absolutely breathtaking.

6) What’s the best thing about being Indian-American?

Everything! I LOVE the family culture, the food, the colors, the clothing (oh my gosh, the CLOTHES!) and jewelry that India has given me. It's such a beautiful, rich culture and with thousands of years of stories entwined in it...what's there not to love? I find it magical. As for being American, I love that dreams are within reach and that it's been a place where my family has thrived. I love walking around New York City and feeling a million countries in one place and feeling accepted there. In many ways, by being Indian-American, I get double the amazing things! I'm a lucky girl.

7) How did being part of different cultures enrich your life?

I think I get an intense work ethic and level of competition from being Indian. Our parents had to stand out in a population of billions so their goal of working like crazy to get to their dreams is something they imbibed in me. And the belief I can get them, that's an American thing. I think both my cultures have worked hand in hand to give me a great set of tools to succeed and move forward in life.

8) What does true love mean to you?

What an amazing question! I see love as an unwavering home for your soul, where you can be broken into a million pieces or the strongest you can be, all without fear of judgment or being belittled. It's a "free space" for you to grow and change, all with someone to love and support you.

9) What’s the most beautiful thing for you about the connection between Nithya and James?

I think I alway envisioned them as a couple who gives themselves the space to grow and change. That's the beauty of falling in love in college--you change every day and mature, and to have someone there next to you who can allow you to do that while loving you is a beautiful thing. I hope I was able to capture some of the beauty in first loves, college and adoring someone.

10) What are your plans for the future?

I'm graduating with my MPH soon, to supplement my M.Ed. I also have a three book deal with Sourcebooks, set for release in 2018 (date TBA) about a set of Indian friends, each with their own book and love story that explores different cultural conflicts. I'm really excited for that! I changed my website recently into a lifestyle blog, and I update Instagram nearly every day with poetry and lifestyle photographs, so that's also a project I'm really pumped for!

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a digital copy of The Rearranged Life.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

11 comments:

  1. It always interesting to me to read about what a good moral person does when faced with various dilemas. The fashion for unreliable narrators has left me cold.

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  2. this book looks absorbing! would love to read it xx

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  3. Sounds like an interesting story, thanks for the review and giveaway!

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  4. I'm looking forward to reading this book.

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  5. This sounds so exciting, Annika! I really, really want to read it!!! :D

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  6. The Rearranged Life sounds like a sweet romance, with a taste of Indian culture and a young woman learning to balance her own needs with the expectations of her family.

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  7. It sounds like an awesome book.Thanks for sharing it.

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