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Book Review: The Vibrant Years

I’ve been trying to read more books this year from voices and points of view that are different from my own. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but when I saw that Mindy Kaling was throwing her weight behind The Vibrant Years by Sonali Dev *and* that it was an Amazon First Reads, I knew that this was the right pick for me, though I was very tempted to try The Widow by Kaira Rouda. I sometimes find generational stories drag a little bit, but I had faith in Mindy.

When sixty-five-year-old Bindu Desai inherits a million dollars, she’s astounded―and horrified. The windfall threatens to expose a shameful mistake from her youth. On an impulse, Bindu quickly spends it on something unexpected: a condo in a posh retirement community in Florida.

The impulsive decision blindsides Bindu’s daughter-in-law, Aly. At forty-seven, Aly still shares a home with Bindu even after her divorce from Bindu’s son. But maybe this change is just the push Aly needs to fight for her own dreams.

As Bindu and Aly navigate their new dynamic, Aly’s daughter, Cullie, is faced with losing the business that made her a tech-world star. The only way to save it is to deliver a new idea to her investors―and they want the dating app she pitched them in a panic. Problem is, Cullie has never been on a real date. Naturally, enlisting her single mother and grandmother to help her with the research is the answer.

From USA Today bestselling author Sonali Dev comes a heartfelt novel about three generations of hilarious, unconventional, ambitious women who embark on a shared journey of self-discovery. Join the Desai women as they come together to embrace the hijinks and heartbreak of facing their greatest fears to finally live their most vibrant lives.

I really enjoyed this book! I always worry that stories with multi-generations will drag a bit, but this one—though long—didn’t feel like I was just pushing through it to finish. It’s refreshing to see a woman in her sixties be so open about sex and relationships and it was nice to see the dynamic between the three women. Having Aly be Bindy’s daughter-in-law instead of her daughter added a nice little twist on the trope.

What didn’t work for me

The dating app: I’m not really sure this was really needed and it didn’t portray dating apps in a good light. Of course there are some terrible people out there (and a lot of them are on dating apps), but for none of the dates that the women went on to be even remotely okay just didn’t do it for me. I feel like there was another way the plot could have moved without this trope, especially the way things worked out in the end.

The “reveal”: Without giving too much away, there was a secondary character that was introduced who was revealed to be someone else (actually it kind of happened twice) and the major one was very obvious and the minor one didn’t really mean much for the plot.

What I liked

The writing: Dev can be light and humourous with her prose, but can also evoke emotion and trauma in the same paragraph.

The character development: The three women were well developed and, most importantly, I believed them. I believed they experienced these traumas, these doubts, but I also belived that they would be able to pull through it, especially while leaning on each other.

Bindu’s story: And by this, I mean the fact that it’s portraying a realistic experience of a woman living in a retirement community. She has friends, she plays pickleball, she goes on dates… it shows that life not only goes on but is and can be full into your senior years.

If you like reading romantic comedies that are a little deeper than fluff or you love books that celebrate women of all ages, you’ll really enjoy this.


“Life. You blink and it’s gone. The passion. The boredom. The moment lived. The moment lost. In the end they are just crumbs stuck in the creases of memory. Remnants of tastes left on your tongue.” —Sonali Dev, The Vibrant Years


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