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by Sajni Patel


Abrams - October 2023

In this hate-to-love teen rom-com from the author of My Sister’s Big Fat Indian Wedding, Nikki, an aspiring photographer, accompanies her family on a trip to Dubai to celebrate the five days of Diwali in style. It should be the trip of a lifetime, if Yash, the boy next door—with whom Nikki has a rocky history—weren’t on board. In the festive spirit, Nikki's family encourages her to get reacquainted with Yash. Turns out a lot can change on a 12-hour flight beyond just continents. But can betrayals and conflicting ambitions be set aside long enough for the two teens to discover the true meaning of the Festival of Lights?

Praise for My Sister's Big Fat Indian Wedding

“A vibrant and luscious celebration of the Indian culture. I couldn't have enough of everything--the extravagant wedding, the gorgeous outfits, the food, and of course, Patel's trademark strong female mains!” – Jesse Q. Sutanto, bestselling author of Dial A for Aunties

"Many teens will be able to relate to Zurika’s persistence in following her dreams and courage in speaking up for herself. Zurika also embraces her Indo-Trinidadian roots and bucks against white beauty standards... Patel leverages Zurika’s budding romance with Naveen well, and their sweet but competitive relationship will leave readers hopeful. This warm hug of a novel will find a cherished spot on many bookshelves." – Booklist

"Provides a sweeping portrait of the South Asian diaspora, and offers an affectionate and lushly detailed window into the family’s wedding experience." – Publishers Weekly

"From prayerful puja to high-energy garba dances, Patel lovingly portrays the rich and vibrant festivities of a Gujarati Hindu wedding celebration. . .A sweet and entertaining romp." – Kirkus Reviews

Sajni Patel is the author of the adult contemporary romances, The Trouble With Hating You (Hachette/Forever), First Love, Take Two (Hachette/Forever), and Isha, Unscripted, coming from Berkley in 2023. Her YA novels include The Knockout published in January 2021, and My Sister’s Big Fat Indian Wedding, which sold at auction to Abrams for publication in Spring 2022. Prior to her writing career, she worked in aerospace research with the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation. Born in India, she currently lives in Hawaii with her family.

I'm delighted to share this nice review from Kirkus, which calls the book "An endearing, feel-good rom-com celebrating love, heritage, and friendship." The full review is below:

Patel’s friends-to-lovers romance takes readers on a journey of friendship, love, and celebrating Indian culture set between Austin and Dubai. High school senior and aspiring photographer Nikki finds herself pushed to repair her relationship with neighbor and former best friend Yash during a weeklong trip to Dubai to celebrate Diwali with their families. The teens’ parents are incredibly close, and Nikki’s mother and father urge her to do the right thing: “there is light in forgiveness, and only darkness by holding grudges.” As the trip goes on, the two do mend their rift, but complicating matters, Nikki realizes she’s developing romantic feelings for the boy she grew up with. She fears that this revelation would ruin their still-fragile rapport but fails to stop herself from impulsively confessing that she likes him. As it turns out, Yash has a confession of his own, one related to a complicated secret he’s been hiding from her that threatens their newly rebuilt trust. The book is humorous and full of sharp wit. It touches lightly on topics of otherness, feminism, extended family and community, and cultural differences in ways that will speak to teens from many backgrounds. Patel’s Gujarati characters move through lovingly described surroundings, but the setting is at times overdeveloped, slowing the pace of the narrative. Food and joyous all-out Diwali celebrations also feature heavily, adding to the festive mood. An endearing, feel-good rom-com celebrating love, heritage, and friendship.