The Rearranged Life Synopsis
Nithya, a vivacious, intelligent and driven college senior has always known what she has wanted: a successful career in medicine and the love of her family. She's even come to terms with the idea of an arranged marriage, a tradition her conservative Indian family has held up for thousands of years.
When a night of partying puts her on a collision course with danger, Nithya's entire life changes.
Enter James St. Clair, the smart, challenging and heartbreakingly handsome American.
As Nithya and James fall in love, she questions the future she and her parents have always planned. Now, Nithya has a choice to make: become a doctor and a good Indian bride, or step away from her family and centuries of culture to forge her own path.
The decision she comes to takes her on a journey that transforms how she sees her future, her relationships with loved ones, and how she learns to put herself back together when even her best-laid plans fall apart
When I was little, my family took us to India every two years. My sister and I were done with school and endless weeks of freedom stood in front of us. To keep us in touch with our family (and away from the television), our mom flew the three of us to Hyderabad from the end of May until the middle of August. Somehow, the stifling 105-degree heat and power outages didn’t faze us. We spent hours underneath the banana trees in the garden, playing cricket and chasing lizards out of our veranda.
Anisha and I would spend the days before the trip make believing we were on our own, gallivanting across the world. We packed lunchboxes full of our Fisher-Price kitchenware and Barbie clothes to reenact the entire process. Deciding which clothes to pack was a big to-do, followed by creating pretend plane tickets out of construction paper. ‘Checking in’ our baggage on a makeshift conveyor belt (also known as Anisha’s bed) came next before we boarded the top-bunk aircraft. We would always pretend our flight was delayed, so we could trek across Europe while waiting for our next ride. In our minds, anything was possible. The world was our oyster.
In real life, our arduous 24-hour long journey always culminated with a twenty-something-person welcoming party inevitably waiting a few extra hours in the sweltering heat for our late arrival. Taxi drivers and auto rickshaw drivers ambushed foreigners shouting, “Ma’am, only ten rupees!” and would grab the baggage to load onto the car before anyone even had a chance to protest that they already had transportation waiting.
The welcome wagon would collectively exclaim how we grew up so fast and how we’re so American as they loaded our eight suitcases on top of a Fiat or an Ambassador car from the sixties. Then, a caravan of vehicles would weave through the intense traffic that seemingly had no laws, dodging cows and scooters loaded with four people at a time, before finally arriving at the family home... a safe haven for any child in a new environment.
The first few days of the trip were always spent visiting the homes of elder relatives, catching up and answering the, “Do you remember me?” questions that were unavoidably geared toward my sister and I, as if we would forget our blood relations within two years. We would smile and name their relationship to us to play their game, and prove that, yes, our parents did teach us something though we were far away. Amma and Nanna would beam with pride as our relatives declared in awe, “Even being in a different country has not kept them from knowing who their family is!”
The hustle and bustle of visiting would die down after a few weeks and soon my sister and I would be free to play with our cousins in the backyard garden from morning to night. We would spin thousands of rounds of Ring-Around-the-Rosie and run games of tag until our cotton clothes were soaked with sweat and our mothers would call us in for a bath–a rudimentary system involving a big bucket of cold water and a little mug to pour with. On days our parents worried about heat stroke, we would be confined to the small apartment. It was in those moments I would discover novels I’d never heard of and, encouraged by my male cousins, the Marvel and DC universes. I would devour all the comics they had and daydream about how cool it would be to be a superhero, saving people from dastardly villains and remaining humble about it.
Older now, I know better. The real villains are greed, corruption, and cruelty, sometimes in people you thought better of. Like the guy last night, whom I shouldn’t have trusted. Then there are people like James, superheroes in their own right, who do the moral thing even when no one is looking.
About Annika Sharman
Annika Sharma was born in New Delhi and brought up in the United States, where she moved with her parents as a baby. A proud alum, she graduated from Penn State University with dual degrees in Biobehavioral Health and Neuro-Psychology, and minors in Biology and Human Development and Family Studies. She received her Master's degree in Early Childhood Special Education before pursuing her dreams of becoming a writer, landing her agent Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group while daylighting as a preschool teacher. The Rearranged Life, her first novel, was written in the month before graduate school.
Annika, a Gryffindor and Scorpio, spends much of her time dreaming of adventure, working on her next book, going on Starbucks runs with family and friends, shopping online and watching superhero movies.
he Rearranged Life, will be hitting shelves on May 15th, 2015, published by Curiosity Quills Press.