Kavya Joshi is competitive, to say the least. There’s a word she’s always been called- besharam. Her relatives and classmates, especially the ones that don’t speak Hindi, describe her with some intricate spin on the word. Brazen, bold, brash, or shameless- anything that indicates that she tries a bit too hard and talks a bit too much. Kavya knows what people think about her, but she’s determined to achieve much more than anyone ever expected her to. More than anything, she’s steadfast in beating her childhood rival and once friend, Ian Jun. He’s the only one who can defeat her in everything (including AP Stats), and she’s not going to give up anytime soon. However, due to an unexpected turn of events, a long coming break-up with her boyfriend, and a twisted game of truth-or-dare, she ends up kissing Ian. That’s right- kissing her arch nemesis. Kavya continues to treat Ian like a rival, but she can’t shake the feeling that something is different. Sick of the never-ending bickering between the two, their respective friend groups decide to create a series of challenges for Ian and Kavya to complete over the course of summer break. Along the way, Kavya navigates a difficult relationship with her sister, cracks in the Moon Girls, and of course, her painfully expanding feelings for Ian Jun.
I loved all the characters in the book because of their apparent flaws. The most prevalent example of this is the main character, Kavya Joshi. Kavya makes some poor choices throughout the story. However, she never hesitates to help her friends and family, making her a good person regardless of her mistakes. The duality of her personality is what makes her an interesting character. This description can also be used for many characters in the story, like Simran (Kavya’s sister) and Ian. One thing I slightly disliked was the writing style of the book. I feel like some sentences were structured a bit awkwardly. However, this didn’t detract from the overall message of the story. The trope “rivals to lover” is often overused, but this book incorporates it in a way that doesn’t feel cliché. The side characters feel like real people instead of props to push along the plot. Overall, this book is great!
One memorable thing about this book was the pop culture allusions. The book cleverly references relatively modern-day franchises like Pokémon, Sailor Moon, and Schitt’s Creek. Also, the title is an incredible pun. I might be a bit biased because of the awesome Desi representation.
Reviewed by Vaidehi, Twin Hickory Library