I will unashamedly admit this: I read romance novels. I like them a lot actually. I’ve read Harlequin novels and Nora Roberts’ masterpieces. Basically, as long as the story looks intriguing enough, I will read it. Never Twilight, though, I have to draw the line somewhere.
I also really like Bollywood movies between the 90’s and ’00s. The clothes, the makeup, and let’s not forget: the romance.
So, when I came across Shobhan Bantwal’s book, “Full Moon Bride,” it was a no-brainer that I would read it. It’s all love and drama in a book, with Indian women as leads.
Being of the Indian diaspora, I’m always searching for ways to gauge my Indian-ness, as I like to put it. Because I have such few ties to India, I look for things to tie me back to the country. In the past, this has led me to watch Indian soap operas. Those things are addictive.
[bctt tweet=”As long as the story looks good, I will read it.”]
What truly drew me to Bantwal’s books was that her leads are portrayed as trying to navigate the world they live in, while still adhering to the traditional values they deemed important. I found this in both books I read “Full Moon Bride” and “The Sari Shop Widow.” As someone who has felt like I have to navigate two worlds as both East and West Indian, this appealed to me. Plus there’s the cultural pressure and expectations thrown on them: they are still Indian girls, after all.
With relatable challenges like the expectation to get married by family and community, body image insecurities, I found myself in the shoes of the female characters at times, wondering what they would do.
Then there are the taboo issues of men and sex, which Bantwal writes about unreservedly. Arranged marriages, relationship age gaps, dowry brides, interracial relationships, and, of course, patriarchal culture all are major themes in her writing.
It’s really refreshing to read about these relevant issues from the perspective of someone who is authentically able to tell it – and does so daringly.
[bctt tweet=”It is important that we tell our stories ourselves.”]
Shobhan brings to the forefront issues that threaten the lives of women into common conversation, making them more real in her books. Ultimately, once I’ve read something upsetting, it tends to stick with me. That’s exactly what these books do.
This is why we need to tell our stories as only we can.