Title: 30 Things I Love About Myself
Author: Radhika Sanghani
Publication date: January 4, 2022
Genre: Women’s Fiction
One Sentence Summary: After spending her 30th birthday in jail, Nina decides to embark on a journey to fall in love with herself, much to her traditional Indian mother’s consternation.
30 Things I Love About Myself is a fun story of one woman learning to love herself. In true women’s fiction fashion, it’s focused on Nina, her non-romantic relationships, and her growth. This is her journey, complete with ups and downs, steps forward and steps backward. I loved the huge incorporation of her Indian culture and of mental health and the depth it lent to both her and her story. I wish she had been a little less self-absorbed and maybe thought a little more before jumping, but Nina is so unapologetically herself that I also couldn’t help but admire her courage and conviction in herself. Overall, her’s was a fun journey to read about, and a delightful one to enjoy at the beginning of a new year.
Right before she turns 30, Nina breaks up with her fiance and ends up in jail when she spontaneously decides to join a protest and ends up being the only one arrested. But, while waiting to be released, she learns her best friend is now engaged, and one of the guards hands her a self-love book that she then takes with her and begins her journey to loving herself.
Over the course of a year, Nina has her ups and downs as her traditional Indian mother mostly only sees shame in her daughter being outspoken and unapologetically finding ways of loving 30 things about herself and her older brother is dealing with depression and her ex-fiance is trying to get over her, just as she’s trying to move past him.
30 Things I Love About Myself is a fun and realistic, albeit a bit long, take on a person learning to love things about themselves. I loved that Nina experienced highs and lows, infamy and fame. It was wonderful to watch her grow and take those steps back, but she was so determined and I loved how committed she was. This was a fun women’s fiction read where romance was mostly out of the question. I really liked how Nina’s whole goal was to love herself instead of falling into the arms of a lover. The end was on the cheesy side, but it also fit well with Nina’s characterization.
This is, undeniably, Nina’s story. It’s her journey, and everyone else is just along for the ride. There are a number of wonderful characters, some more open and loving than others, and some more judgmental and self-absorbed. I liked that her family played a huge role, but her story was never really derailed in favor of the things going on with her mother and brother. I liked that, instead, it worked well with Nina’s journey and also provided color to her life and the story.
There were times when Nina annoyed me, when I wished she did a little more and thought a little harder about what she was doing and saying. For much of the book she was quite self-absorbed, but I suppose that’s because she was learning to love herself. But she kept wanting input from those around her, which kind of annoyed me because clearly the people around her had their own lives to live and problems to deal with. As the story wore on, though, it was easy to see the growth Nina was undergoing. She had some wake up calls that were really nice and I really liked how she just seized whatever opportunities came her way. She wasn’t one to shy away from things, but probably could have benefited from thinking it through a little more. It was nice to see that, as she learned to love herself, she also learned to be there for others and offer more of herself to them.
I adored Nina’s family. Her mother felt so quintessentially Indian and it was so easy to picture her and her behaviors. It was a lot of fun to get some insight into their culture through her, and it added another layer for Nina to struggle through. Being East Asian myself, I certainly understand the concept of shame and how a child’s behavior reflects on the family no matter the age, so it was really nice to see it played up so much in 30 Things I Love About Myself because it also really highlighted the love between Nina, her mother, and her brother. But it was also just wonderful to feel immersed, in a way, into Indian culture and it felt like it came alive around me. Nina’s brother was, understandably, a bit more absent, but I loved the brother-sister relationship. There were so many instances of forward and backward progress, but I loved how Nina and her mother never gave up, how they always tried so hard to help him and be there for him. There’s clearly a lot of love in this family and it was really beautiful to see.
30 Things I Love About Myself is the story of a woman learning to love herself. Nina grows a lot over the course of the story. There were times when it felt a little too fast and times when it felt a little too slow. There were some bits I could have done without. But it was nice to see the challenges Nina came up against and how she overcame them. I loved that there were so many ups and downs. There were a number of steps backwards, but Nina always pushed through so there was always some forward progress as well. I wish there had been more with Nina’s friends, but I think this is really a story about Nina and Nina and her family. It felt a little long at times, but I really appreciated what the story was about and all the things Nina and her family had to face.
Overall, 30 Things I Love About Myself is a fun women’s fiction novel with minimal romance and a great deal of family and Indian culture. It felt real even if some of the events felt a bit blown up in the way fiction usual is. Still, I found it to be a really enjoyable read. I really appreciated the focus on mental health, family, and Indian culture, and that I could see how Nina’s journey could potentially touch anyone regardless of their culture. The ending did make me cringe a little, but one of my favorite things about Nina was just how unapologetically herself she was.
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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
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