From USA Today bestselling author Sonali Dev comes a heartfelt short story about one woman’s journey of self-discovery and what it means to be happy.
Ayesha Shetty lost her brother seven years ago, the same time she lost everything else important to her: her dreams, her fierce independence, and the man she loved. Not wanting to see her mother hurt anymore, she put her wild self away and became the dutiful daughter her mother needed and took on her brother’s role in the family business.
Now her best friend’s big, fat Indian wedding is a chance to get away from her endless duties at the restaurant and maybe even have some fun (if she remembers how). But a setup arranged by her mother, with a doctor no less, is the last thing she needs. The fact that he checks all her mother’s boxes just makes everything better…and worse.
Then Emmitt Hughes shows up. Her brother’s best friend. The love she once chose over family duties and her responsibilities. The one she asked to leave, and who did. The one who knows the real Ayesha. Torn between a love from the past that could cost her the only person she has left and her sense of obligation to her mother, will Ayesha find the strength to stop thinking about what everyone else wants and finally put herself first? Or is the old Ayesha truly gone for good?
I love Sonali Dev’s writing! There’s a lot going on here–a big Indian wedding, Twilight references, processing grief, brother’s best friend, second chance romance, and mother/daughter drama–and it’s just a short story! That’s a lot to take on in such a short format, but I knew if anyone could do it well, she could.
That said, I honestly had to read this story twice to really appreciate it. It’s a wonderful story with great characters, but with it being a short story, the first time through I felt like I was still trying to figure out who Ayesha, Bela, Emmitt, and Ayesha’s mother were as characters when boom! the story was over. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid ending and it gave me all kinds of happy feels–but it wasn’t until I read it over again two days later that it all really came together. On the second reading I already knew and liked the characters and was better able to focus on what was happening and the dialogue a lot more than I had the first time around, and I was able to really appreciate the story as a whole.
(There were honestly an embarrassing number of ah-ha moments for me on that second time around. How did I miss the reason “Dr Rat” had to climb out the bathroom window? OMG, that one made me cackle when I realized what happened. I’m fairly certain it was a blend of I read too fast sometimes and Sonali Dev is a word magician who somehow manages to pack a whole lot in using not too many words)
The Wedding Setup was a lovely story, perfect for both fans of the author and newbies who want to get an idea of her writing style–and it’s definitely worth a re-read. Or two 😉
Rating: 4 stars / A-