I'm your protagonist-Reshma Kapoor-and if you have the free time to read this book, then you're probably nothing like me.
Reshma is a college counselor's dream. She's the top-ranked senior at her ultra-competitive Silicon Valley high school, with a spotless academic record and a long roster of extracurriculars. But there are plenty of perfect students in the country, and if Reshma wants to get into Stanford, and into med school after that, she needs the hook to beat them all.
What's a habitual over-achiever to do? Land herself a literary agent, of course. Which is exactly what Reshma does after agent Linda Montrose spots an article she wrote for Huffington Post. Linda wants to represent Reshma, and, with her new agent's help scoring a book deal, Reshma knows she'll finally have the key to Stanford.
But she's convinced no one would want to read a novel about a study machine like her. To make herself a more relatable protagonist, she must start doing all the regular American girl stuff she normally ignores. For starters, she has to make a friend, then get a boyfriend. And she's already planned the perfect ending: after struggling for three hundred pages with her own perfectionism, Reshma will learn that meaningful relationships can be more important than success-a character arc librarians and critics alike will enjoy.
Of course, even with a mastermind like Reshma in charge, things can't always go as planned. And when the valedictorian spot begins to slip from her grasp, she'll have to decide just how far she'll go for that satisfying ending. (Note: It's pretty far.)
In this wholly unique, wickedly funny debut novel, Rahul Kanakia consciously uses the rules of storytelling-and then breaks them to pieces.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I normally don't favor novels that begin with a protagonist who is such an unlikable anti-hero, but Reshma's character was both genuine and different enough to actually work for this story. The initiating event of the story (Reshma's goal to write a novel about her "makeover" life ...to serve as a hook to improve her chances of being accepted into Stanford) motivated me to continue reading UNTIL Reshma's character "arced" to a more likable person. This YA novel is so different than most in that it involves key characters who are not the typical blue-eyed, blond and clueless Valley Girl types. I enjoyed the diversity of characters (and cultures). Any young person with an interest in writing a novel (or short stories) could learn a lot about story structure and story elements from this wonderful novel ...and in a much more interesting manner than learning from dry "how to" writing guides or textbooks.
Enter Title Here is the meta YA book that you didn’t know you needed. Rahul Kanakia’s excellent work presents an unforgettable character and lovingly pokes fun at some of the tropes we commonly see in YA fiction. The book follows Reshna Kapoor’s quest to get into Stanford. To get an elusive acceptance letter, Reshna decides to get a literary agent and write a YA novel. But to do that, she needs to experience all of the “normal” high school things that she has previously scorned: friendships and romance. Reshna is an unlikeable character who is fascinating to read about. I am gratified to see an unlikeable female character treated this way. Although Reshna does many awful things in pursuit of Stanford, her underlying emotional vulnerability and love for her family enables her to shine even with all of her dark deeds.
Her experiences also shed light on the South Asian-American experience in a way that goes beyond facile stereotypes...
Not being a YA reader, my motivation to read this book came from a very different place: I was curious about the lives of contemporary high schoolers, especially those of Indian origin. Like Reshma's parents, I graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology (though I didn't work hard in high school except in my last year, and attended no tutoring classes). Like them, I sent my kids to the best school I could, one with average SAT scores more than 100 points higher than the 2100 boasted by the fictional Bell High School, and 100% (rather than 95%) of its students going on to 4-year colleges, half to the Ivy League, MIT and Stanford. My older child was very comfortably in that group, while my younger one feels the need to work hard, like Reshma, but is incapable of either her ruthlessness or the Sprezzatura the "perfects" aspire to. I found to book to be a fast, compelling read, however unlikable the anti-hero might be to begin with. But, given that Reshma's relationship with...
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