Lies and Other Love Languages

Lake Union. Sept. 2023. 335p. ISBN 9781662513978. $28.99. F
Dev’s (The Vibrant Years) latest delves satisfyingly into relationships among friends, lovers, and family. In 1970s L.A., 12-year-old Rani, a runaway orphan from Mumbai, encounters Vandy, a wealthy girl her own age who notices Rani’s desperation and persuades her mother to help. Vandy and Rani’s subsequent lifelong friendship is framed against Vandy’s infertility journey and each woman’s relationship with Vandy’s now-deceased husband. In the present day, Vandy’s adult daughter Mallika uncovers secrets of her birth with the help of a love interest who specializes in genetics. As Mallika tracks down the truth about her parents, we learn about the sacrifices friends make, little lies that smooth things over, and the healing power of forgiveness. The story jumps among four timeframes, multiple family members, and two continents. Dev mostly handles the complicated plot well, although it can be hard to keep relations and generations straight. The confusion somehow adds to the Bollywood vibe of the family scenes, most of which take place in the context of wedding planning and celebrations.
VERDICT Recommended for Dev’s lush descriptions of food, fashion, dancing, college life, romance, and friendship and her sensitive portrayals of infertility, loss, and hope.
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