When I woke up to the news of India’s judgement to overturn section 377, in essence decriminalizing homosexuality for a sub-continent which is home to over 17% of the global population, my face broke out into the biggest grin, and my heart soared. So, I decided to celebrate the only way I know how, with a book! I cozied up with a cup of chai, some amazing homemade bhujiya (fried-snack-heaven) courtesy of one of my favorite aunties, and Falling Into Place by Sheryn Munir.
Here’s the Deal:
After a failed college romance, Tara Dixit picked up her embittered heart and decided that love could no longer be a part of her life. Under the weight of the futility she felt trying to live her life in urban India as a lesbian, Tara knows that trying to be seen as a competent, accomplished journalist in a profession ruled by men is enough “going-against-the-grain” for her. Her heart can’t handle more adversity, along with the heartache that inevitably comes from relationships, so she marries herself to her work, and she does it well. She’s so good at it that she almost doesn’t realize anything is missing from her life until a monsoon night brings Sameen Siddiqui bursting into her life and her car along with the heavy rains.
Sameen is beautiful, vibrant, vivid and full of life, she lives her life in full HD. With her work in a publishing house, She and Tara have quite a bit in common, and Sameen’s bubbly attitude soon overpowers Tara’s cynical stoicism. Where Tara is quiet, Sameen is rushing with loads to say. Where Tara is reserved, Sameen wears her emotions and her heart on her sleeve. Sameen seems to be the perfect counterbalance to everything that Tara is. However, Sameen is most definitely straight. And taken.
The two women strike up a reluctant friendship, and Tara finds herself challenged again and again by Sameen’s free spirit and adventurous nature. Before she knows it, Tara is forced to re-think beliefs and decisions that she seemed dead set on, in favor of new ideas and possibilities. One by one, Tara’s carefully built walls begin to fall under the siege of Sameen’s innate charm and sweet personality. But can Tara keep her heart in check when it seems as though love might be trying to make a re-appearance in her life? And more importantly, what is Tara to do when it seems as though her worst fears are coming true? Because, in the full scope of things, absolutely nothing could be worse for her heart than falling for a straight woman in a long term relationship.
How do they navigate a friendship with all of these feelings popping up? Can any of it actually be salvaged? Or was Tara better off alone?
One of my favorite things about this book was the writing. Just plain, good writing. Sentences that had me ooohing and aaahing and highlighting, and phrases that had me sounding like I was eating the best meal of my life. I was grabbed by the first sentence, which as I read other reviews, I heard was quite common. “Forget cats and dogs– this was the stuff of elephants and hippos.” Basically, she had me at hello.
This book was everything that I love about Bollywood. Romantic moments, dramatic moments, real life moments, interwoven with the colors, tastes, sounds, and sights of India. The only thing missing was an amazing soundtrack and dance breaks which I filled in with my own reading playlist. For so long, I felt as though I looked for a great lesbian romance with all of the wonderful elements that I get with a full Bollywood movie, and Sheryn Munir absolutely delivered.
This story was a slow burn, building moment by moment, page by page, until I couldn’t remember a time when I didn’t know Tara and Sameen. We got a chance to delve deep into their personalities and their fears, we got to know what their likes and dislikes were, and Tara and Sameen got to know each other in what felt like very real time. I enjoyed reading about the elements that made up their friendship and I loved watching that friendship blossom into a bond that cemented them into each other’s lives.
There were intense scenes, and moments that had me holding my breath, and even though this was a sweet fade to black romance, which is something that I’ve come to expect from Bollywood, and I expected no different from this book, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t moments that had me sighing with heart filled satisfaction. And one of my favorite things about Bollywood is that so many of them end with a happily ever after, and such was the case with this book.
Tara and Sameen’s story fulfilled a long held desire of mine, which was to see the classic elements of Bollywood translated into a lady loving romance, and this book more that exceeded my expectations. It flew and soared above them. This is a wonderful work of fiction put forth by Sheryn Munir which shows her dedication and talent as a writer and crafter of stories. I trust her as an author and I am looking forward to obsessively reading anything and everything else that she ever puts out. She is the kind of author who writes so well that you just want to befriend her.
And no, none of this review was endorsed. I am just an extremely happy reader, eager to sit down and re-read Tara and Sameen’s story the way I would re-watch a favorite movie.
I am so eager for all of you to head out and pick up this book. If you love the vibrant colors and culture of India, this book will suck you in and make you remember everything that you love about the place. If you’d like to take a new trip to another place filled with romance and unparalleled beauty, this book will take you on a journey, and I guarantee it will be one of the best tour guides you’ve ever had.
This book was THAT good. Just go, pick it up, read it, and love it.
I know I did!
Wishing you every bit of romance and whimsy
And that little extra something that Bollywood
Always manages to stir up in the heart 🙂
Until next time,
Reading is a romance
And reviews are love.
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