“Dr. Girl Genius” Saira Sehgal is America’s youngest pediatric oncologist at age 16; she can’t drive, but she can save lives—and she does in the opening chapters of this hilarious and touching rom-com.
Saira is not only training to be a medical professional, she’s also trying to prove to her skeptical fellow interns that she is just as intelligent and hardworking as they are despite her overbearing mother’s interference and overprotectiveness. It’s not easy living up to the demands of her friends and her large, loving (and very authentically portrayed) Punjabi family, let alone community expectations due to her local celebrity status. When Saira begins to fall for Lincoln “Link” Rad, a floppy-haired, guitar-playing, half Korean, half Scottish and Dutch leukemia patient, it’s “Diagnosis: Heartbreaker. Prognosis: I’m in trouble now” for the young doctor. And when Link is in desperate need of a bone marrow donor, it’s Saira who uses her social networks and social media–savvy friends to seek a match. Charaipotra does not shy away from including Hindi and Punjabi dialogue (without translation) and dropping Bollywood references, yet she skillfully offers readers who are not cultural insiders ample context to decode everything without compromising the narrative or characters’ integrity. Saira and Link’s chaste chemistry is palpable.
A charming debut, part Doogie Howser, M.D. and part The Fault in Our Stars, offering rich, nuanced portrayals of Indian American family and professional life. (Romantic comedy. 14-18)