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Well-Behaved Indian Women

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  781 ratings  ·  172 reviews
From a compelling new voice in women's fiction comes a mother-daughter story about three generations of women who struggle to define themselves as they pursue their dreams.

Simran Mehta has always felt harshly judged by her mother, Nandini, especially when it comes to her little "writing hobby." But when a charismatic and highly respected journalist careens into Simran's li
Paperback, 385 pages
Published July 14th 2020 by Berkley Books
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Simran is a writer and psychologist, judged by her mother, Nandini, who feels writing isn’t a “job.” When a journalist comes knocking, it makes Simran question her career and her engagement.

Nandini, Simran’s mother, has done the best she can to provide a good life for her children. She faces racism in the workplace and at home, she is often placating her husband’s difficult family. Her ideal in life has been to be the “Perfect Indian Woman.”

Mimi is the mother of Nandini. She feels like a failure
Taylor Reid
Jul 09, 2020 added it
Shelves: 2020
This debut is such a great story about mothers and daughters over three generations. Simran, Nandini, and Mimi are all incredibly different women, navigating the world the best they can—and to see the way they support and challenge one another reminded me of some of the most pitch-perfect moments in another wonderful grandmother-mother-daughter story, Jane the Virgin.
Roshani Chokshi
Compelling, emotionally nuanced and hard to put down. I loved Dave's intergenerational saga about a mother, daughter and grandmother. I also really loved that this was a book about reclaiming identity and pushing back on the myth that people should have their lives figured out in their 20s. An amazing debut, and a book that I think will resonate with so many.
Theresa Alan
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this novel so much. It’s really well written.

After seven years of dating Kunal behind their parents’ backs, Simran and Kunal are engaged, right on schedule. Kunal is in medical school and Simran is almost finished with her master’s degree in psychology. Her parents think it’s cute but not impressive that she got a collection of her essays published by a small press. Writing is not a real career to her India-born parents, who’s coupling was the result of an arranged marriage. The fact tha
Jennifer Blankfein
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Well Behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave is a mother-daughter story, about Indian women, culture, relationships, and life choices. I really enjoyed this one and learned a lot from my book club discussion with the author.

Simran is in her 20s, pursuing a degree in psychology and she also has just written a book. Her parents, Nandini and Ranjit Mehta are both doctors and are encouraging her to follow in their footsteps, treating her writing efforts as a hobby. With the pressure to have her life all
I’m always excited when I discover a debut desi author and when I first saw this book being promoted, I instantly fell in love with that cover. And despite it belonging to the women’s fiction genre (which I don’t read a lot), I decided I wanted to give it a try. And here I am after finishing it in a single sitting because I couldn’t put it down.

This is essentially a story about a mother and her daughter, both trying to understand each other and themselves better and also trying to make the righ
Lori Spielman
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, from its mysterious prologue to its satisfying end! Saumya Dave weaves a spellbinding tale seeped in Indian culture, ripe with conflict, and filled with characters who’ll capture your heart. This sumptuous tale of hope and love and family loyalty will resonate with any woman seeking the courage to resurrect an abandoned dream. Don't miss this one!
I've really been enjoying the upsurge of multicultural historical and contemporary fiction that's been published lately. I so wanted to enjoy this story of three generations of Indian women. Grandmother Mimi Kadakia, mother Nandini Mehta and daughter Simran Mehta. All are locked not only into their intergenerational challenges, cultural and racial discords, but their personal challenges. All great tension building opportunities, however for some reason I just didn't engage to the degree I'd hop ...more
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars! This beautiful debut novel, Well-Behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave, explored the relationships between three generations of mothers and daughters of Indian descent. I always loved reading books about Indian culture and this one revealed so many aspects of it. It explored arranged marriages and the sacrifices and burdens indian women faced as a result, the importance of education for children of Indian immigrant parents including good grades and prosperous and respectable careers, an ...more
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I had finished watching "Indian Matchmaker" on Netflix and enjoyed it so much. This book felt like an extension of that show. A generational story of three women and the effects of arranged marriage and love marriage. Great debut
Sharon May
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Many thanks to NetGalley, Berkley Publishing, and Saumya Dave for the opportunity to read this wonderful debut novel - 5 stars!

Three generations of Indian women, struggling to fit into family and societal expectations and still maintain some sense of their own wants and needs. We meet Simran, studying to be a psychologist and engaged to her childhood sweetheart but suddenly not sure if either path is right for her. Simran's mother, Nandini, working as a physician after putting her husband's care
This book takes relatable content (though in the most unexpected way for me) to a new level. Also: NEIL DESAI...that's it that the review. RTC
Kelly  Seifert
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I loved all the different point of views. Great book! ❤📚
Lian Dolan
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was the perfect anecdote to stay at home anxiety-- a rich, warm thoughtful tapestry of three generations of Indian women in one family. Well-paced, the author is able to take a look back at each woman's lives while keeping the story bubbling along in a contemporary fashion. The subject of marriage-- both arranged and free choice, good and bad, for love and for money-- is the story engine here. Fascinating to me. But the payoff is the relationships between the women. This is a 2020 Sate ...more
Sep 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars rounded up. I liked reading about the three generations of Indian/Indian-American women and their coming into their own. I did get a bit tired of the repeated description of how Indian-American parents compete in terms of their children's accomplishments and what that does to their children, especially in terms of snide remarks and back-handed compliments. But I did appreciate when someone finally stood up to it [no spoiler here, you can see it coming from a mile away]. And I appreciat ...more
Jane Igharo
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this story about three generations of Indian women. It was so refreshing stepping into their world and getting to know their culture, struggles, and experiences! Saumya is such a talented writer! Highly recommend this!
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved this! Such a great message about standing up for yourself and fighting for what you know is right. Loved the idea that women are allowed to be and have more than one “self.”
Ariel | swirlofspice
The story follows three generations of mothers and daughters: Simran Mehta, her mother Nandini, and her grandma, Mami. All of them feel misunderstood by each other, and the plot follows each of their plights, as they struggle to find themselves and confront their past.

This is a difficult review for me to write; as an Indian-American begging for representation, I was overjoyed to see this story, especially a women-centric one. But it’s important to note I bring so much of my own baggage with want
A very well written and thought provoking story of daughter/mother relationships, plus relationships to friends and partners. The characters are finding their way into who they truly are and need to be. While it was related to Indian culture and explored the themes through that, it still has universal application.
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is closed, superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today.

I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them
Jun 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mimi Kadakia was the perfect Indian woman while her husband was alive, but she will never forget how she failed her daughter. Nandini Mehta moved to America with her new husband in an effort to ensure her future children would never have to go to through what she did. Despite thinking this will be a fresh start for her too, she is so focused on being the perfect Indian wife that she lets opportunities slip away. Simran Mehta has always been a bit of a wildcard and perhaps that is why her parents ...more
Samantha Verant
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Saumya Dave has crafted an exquisite book in this extraordinarily well-written debut. The story primarily follows the lives-past and present-of a daughter, Simran, and her mother, Nandini, and digs into daughter/mother relationships as well as societal pressures and staying true to yourself and your dreams. As we learn about Indian culture and traditions that still exist today (in context and not preachy), there are many life lessons to take into account, regardless of your ethnicity. I was comp ...more
Lily Herman
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
Saumya Dave's debut novel Well-Behaved Indian Women had powerful themes around the importance of family, the loving and yet stultifying nature of community, and what it means to be an Indian woman—and a woman at large—in our society. Simran and Nandini in particular could both be equally empowering and frustrating characters, and I loved that they contained multitudes.

That said, I had issues with the lack of plot throughout the book (especially in the first half) and the pacing throughout. After
Falguni Kothari
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The title of Dave's debut novel triggered a bunch of feels in me. So often I've been told to "behave" in a certain way as an Indian woman. More often I've rebelled against those so-called societal rules. In Dave's novel, three generations of Indian women face the challenges of doing what is right for them or what will be accepted from them and of them.
Lovely first book by Saumya Dave. A nice glimpse into an Indian-American family.
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing representation of how complicated mother and daughter relationships are and can be but, each woman has their own story to tell .I was sad when it ended. I wanted more but I'm looking forward to seeing more from this author.
Meghan Dolan
Sep 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow!! One of my favorite books I've read in 2020! As a lover of Indian culture, I was very excited to read this book revolving around a daughter, mother and grandmother mostly set in NYC with some parts in Baroda. What a beautiful debut. Seamless writing, great character development and a relatable story about mothers and daughters, sacrifice, and the changes we go through at different stages of life. I really hope the author will publish a second book because I was so sad when it ended.
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book. SUCH a joy. It gets an Emotional Feelometer of 🤩 but almost a 😍 … I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and it was exactly the pick-me-up I needed.

Though I am not an Indian American, two of my dearest friends are, and there were times where I was laughing out loud thinking about all of the conversations we have had over the years about dating and love and marriage intermixed with the added complication of having traditional Indian parents. The ways in which the main character, Simran, illus
Afshaan Purvez
It's very rare to find a modern story about Indian women that isn't exaggerated in some way or the other. Whether it's Bend it Like Beckham, or Bride and Prejudice or whatever other stuff is out there, I find it super difficult to relate to the characters that are SUPPOSED to reflect me.

I read a book recently called "The Marriage Pact" which hit the predicament of a young South Asian woman on the nose. This book does the same for the complex relationship dynamics of women from three different g
Marjorie Elwood
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A fascinating look into another culture, this is a book about the expectations that bind us to lives that deny our true selves. It's told from the perspective of a grandmother, a mother, and a daughter, each one carrying her own secret. The author captures the exhaustion/depression/anxiety of being in a job or life that you don't like. I did find that it wrapped up a little too handily.

The acknowledgment says it best: "To anyone who has ever felt different, struggled to find a story that repres
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, for the writing, the characters, but mostly for the description of the way a culture can influence you in both positive and negative ways. Simran feels conflicted, between becoming the good Indian daughter and fiancée following the expectations of her culture, or finding her own way and rejecting the norms. Although her mother, Nandini, has done some things her own way, she is still seeped in the way she was brought up. Throughout the book, both Nandini and Simran learn about ...more
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