I picked this up in the last BookCloseouts sale (psst – they’re having another one – a summer fiction sale) because I don’t often see chick lit with Indo American characters. It also looked like had a little bit of a supernatural aspect to it (a heroine who is a reincarnated goddess), so I was sold. It languished in my TBR until I needed a change in genre after all the fantasy I’ve been reading lately.
The Premise: Maya Mehra just had her 30th Birthday. Her big extended Indian family (all doctors except Maya), want her to settle down and get married, but Maya is in no hurry. She’s a California girl, living with her parents in Newport Beach, and while she’d like to find a man, she doesn’t believe in arranged marriage or a man who would marry her for the green card. Unfortunately for her, Aunt Dimple has been matchmaking and sets Maya up with a man from India (Tahir). Maya dutifully goes to the airport to pick him up (and tell him she’s not interested), and is surprised to find Tahir gorgeous and also not interested in her. And then in a bizarre twist, Maya is told that she’s the incarnation of Kali, a Hindu goddess who is the Dark Mother, the Goddess of Destruction – “the bringer of death so that life my resurrect”, and she’s supposed to save the world.
Read an excerpt of Goddess for Hire (from google books)
My Thoughts: This is very much a breezy chick lit novel which reads very fast. It took me a few hours to read – each chapter is very short, often 2 or 3 pages, and the font is not small. I was in the mood for something mindless and this satisfied that craving. The problem with this breezy chick lit California thing is that that Maya can come off as extremely superficial. She’s thirty years old, but she has no problem spending her days shopping with her parents money in her big yellow H2 Hummer (and she drops brand names like nobody’s business). And although she makes some off the cuff comments about the difficulty in being Indian and a minority, and brings up childhood bullying because of being Indian, she also says some things about her own ethnicity that feel uncomfortably bratty. I decided to push past my initial qualms in the first few pages, and although I think that Maya acts more like a twenty year old than a thirty year old, she grew on me. I enjoyed her chemistry with Tahir (they trade insults and sarcasm back and forth), and finding her direction in life enables her to grow. Although I get the impression Maya considers herself a modern girl and therefore does not like many traditional Indian things on principle, she’s set up with a hero who sees things differently (he likes women in saris, Kathak dances, and his parents blessing), so I think he will be a positive influence her.
I enjoyed reading this book mostly for all the Indian cultural references. Indian terms pepper the story but are explained in English (sometimes it felt unnecessarily explained but I suppose not everyone knows what Dharma or Roghan Josh are). There was an element of nostalgia for me because I grew up close to India and I can relate to her big noisy family when my Asian half has something similar. I think that this made me enjoy the book a little bit more – a vague Southeast Asian homesickness which I know not everyone shares, but maybe people will enjoy it’s different cultural viewpoint.
The reincarnated goddess storyline was pure fluff. Maya feels malevolent energy and runs towards it to ward off some evil – usually in the form of someone about to commit a crime, and then bungles her way through preventing a disaster. Her interactions with a swami named Ram who teaches her how to use her powers are hilarious though. I really liked Ram, and he has the best lines in the book (although I also like the interactions Maya and Tahir have). The Kali story overall just felt silly, but this book isn’t trying to be serious. It dovetailed very nicely with Maya’s problems with her family (they want her to get serious – get a husband, get a job), and with her romance with Tahir (Maya keeps disappearing because of it, often right after Tahir says something particularly rude, which delighted me).
Overall: Chick lit with an Indo American flavor. This was a very breezy, very quick read with a cute I-Act-Like-I-Don’t-Like-You-But-Really-I-Do romance and a heroine who is superficial and spoiled, but she grew on me. I don’t think I’d recommend this to everyone but overall I’d say I enjoyed it because I was in the mood for something light and mindless and that’s what this was.
Buy: Amazon | Powell’s | The Book Depository
I couldn’t find any – please let me know if you have reviewed it and I’ll link to it.