Monday, 29 February 2016

Snarky Humour, Lovable Protagonist: Only Wheat Not White by Varsha Dixit

Let me confess that I began reading Only Wheat Not White by Varsha Dixit with a lot of prejudice. Prejudice #1 - the genre. I am not a fan of romance, and the amount of mushiness and the forced happy endings drive me crazy. Prejudice #2 - the title. 'Only Wheat Not White' sounded too racist, too unsophisticated. But as I read, I enjoyed Dixit's writing. The snarky humour and the descriptions of Eila's clumsiness endeared me to the protagonist Eila Sood. In this month's 'romance-themed' reading challenge, this is in fact the one I enjoyed the most. 

Plot summary

Eila Sood has come on a six-month working stint to USA with an agenda of trying to reconcile her estranged family. Her sister Sheela married Steve, a Caucasian, against the wishes of her family. Eila has been sent to the USA with the clear instructions that she should not fall in love with any white man. Her mother makes her swear on "only wheat, not white". But on reaching the US, she realises that all is not well with her sister's marriage. At the same time, she starts falling for Brett Wright, a Caucasian with blue eyes who she bumps into at different points of her stay there. It is but natural to the genre that Eila and Brett must fall hopelessly in love and dare to go against her parents' wishes, and Eila should help solve some of the problems that exist in Sheela's life. 


I loved Eila Sood. A very believable character: gauche but hard-working and sincere, interfering but slightly scared about making decisions for herself... and a wonderful sense of humour that sustains the reading. In fact, descriptions of her constant gaucherie are what I loved the best about the book. Brett's character is not properly fleshed out. We predominantly hear Eila's voice, with Brett's POV getting just a few lines edgewise. The mother and the father, though, have not been given distinguishable personalities. There has been some effort in drawing interesting sketches of Sheela and Steve, but the impact isn't enough. All the effort has gone towards creating Eila. 

Problem areas

I have a few problems with Only Wheat Not White. #1 - Constant reference to Brett Wright as "the ogre" put me off. I don't think I got enough time to like him as Eila's potential lover. #2 - with a title that directly referred to racial problems between the Caucasian and the Indian, I expected a little bit of confrontation with the parents. Especially because the parents are present throughout the book as strong background characters. I also don't think the story does justice to the story of Sheela and Steve either - for example, how is it that they had never tried to sort their differences until Eila came over? 

I received this book as part of the Tornado Giveaway 2 by The Book Club.
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