When Bollywood star Ria Parkar returns to Chicago for her cousin's wedding after having been away for 10 years, she must face Vikram, the boy she abandoned, who believes she chose a life of wealth and fame over him.
As a child, Ria savored summers at her beloved Aunt Uma’s home in Chicago, spent with her cousin Nikhil and his cousin Vikram. She and Vikram both considered Uma’s home a refuge, but when they fell in love as teens, Vikram’s successful mother made it clear her plans for her son definitely didn’t include Ria, the tainted daughter of a family with a history of mental illness. Self-possessed even at 18, Vikram was ready to claim her, but that was before the shameful family tragedy that compelled Ria to turn her back on their love to protect him, allowing him to believe her capable of betrayal in order to follow fame and fortune with a Bollywood career. Now, a decade later, traveling back to Chicago for Nikhil’s wedding is a minefield of memories, both good and bad, and a reminder of what normal looks like after superstardom in India. Navigating her wounded heart, her Ice Princess facade, a nearly forgotten sea of family love from her childhood, and an angry, beloved boy-turned-man who both wants her and hates her make for a complicated trip, especially once the secrets bubble to the surface, threatening her career and her happiness. Vikram has always been the boy who rescued her, but maybe the time has come for her to confront the past and save them both. Dev’s exquisitely written second novel seamlessly integrates the explosive tension of Ria and Vikram’s love story with the universal complications of family, identity, and feeling like an outsider, even in your own skin. The modern Indian-American setting offers a glimpse of a rich culture and enhances the book’s overt and subtle messages of love, compassion, hope, and common ground.
A bright, beautiful gem.