The Rules of Arrangement by Anisha Bhatia: Book Review

The Rules of Arrangement Rating: 3/5

The Rules of Arrangement Synopsis: At 26 Zoya is reaching the end of her shelf life on the Mumbai marriage market. Taking into consideration that she is plus-size and dark skinned, with a job and an MBA also doesn’t help. When her aunties find her the man of their dreams, she’s up for a promotion in the place she’s always wanted: New York. The line between familial duty and a lifetime dream has been drawn. For a woman who hasn’t had many options, she’s finding herself with too many.

I received a complimentary copy of this books from NetGalley with Alcove Publishing for an honest and fair review. All thoughts are that of my own. Thank you NetGalley and Alcove Publishing for a wonderful read!

This book will be published on July 13, 2021! Set your calendars for the release!


The premise of The Rules of Arrangement is so good, but the delivery left much to be desired. To be completely honest here it felt like I had read this book on Wattpad (sorry!!). There was a lot of internalized dialogue that didn’t bring me closer to the main character, Zoya, and a lot of cliches that didn’t bode well with the preemptive themes of the novel. The first half of the novel drags on as you meet the roughly 500 characters and get a sense of the character’s life. The second half is where all of the action is and the pace reflects that. I will say that the book is incredibly descriptive and definitely brings the flavors of India to life.


  • Shelia Bua: Zoya’s closest aunt is probably my favorite character in the novel. She is complex and full of layers that are pulled back piece by piece throughout the novel. Once you think you understand her, there’s something that comes along that makes you question that. I got annoyed with her a couple of times, but that didn’t make me dislike her character.
  • Plot: I’m a sucker for books about breaking against the norms of the world and becoming your own person. While this wasn’t the most perfect reflection of that, I still liked it. I found the plot to be interesting and kept me reading. I rather enjoyed all of the subplots about Shelia Bua, Tanya, Aisha, and Arnav. They were fascinating and added majorly to the book overall. I actually kept reading because of them.
  • Setting/Culture: You know when you read a book and you’re instantly transported to where it’s taking place? That’s this book. Bhatia is great at describing the scene. You get a sense of the colors, the scents, the tastes, the overall feel of the scene. It’s phenomenal. It was so good that I actually went out and bought samosas because I became that hungry reading the book. Seriously! Her descriptions really brought the book together when the internal dialogue became too much because I was then placed in the world and not just Zoya’s head.


  • Zoya: You spend a lot of time in Zoya’s head and her inconsistent character makes it incredibly frustrating. I understand the need to want to appease your family and follow tradition and yet still want independence and to rebel. That is a very comprehendible dilemma. However, the constant back and forth without any action by Zoya makes her a very annoying main character. She’s supposed to be moving the story, that’s why she’s the MC. Additionally, her internalized fatphobia is incredibly shocking. She has no self esteem and is constantly berating herself for being fat but is also okay with it? Plus the constant descriptions of food and wanting to shove it in her mouth is just off putting. I wanted to root for her. But I couldn’t find it in me to do so. She’s supposed to be progressive and intelligent but I’m not sure I think she deserved her degrees for the lack of knowledge she has. I was just very upset with her.
  • Stereotypes: The book relies heavily on stereotypes to continue through. Her “evil” cousin is slim and constantly throws insults at Zoya because she’s fat. Zoya’s boss is attractive, attentive, and has a heart of gold under his rough outer shell. Her friends are attractive and just progressive enough to bode well with the story, but also traditional enough to make her feel bad about herself. There’s more, but I think you get the idea.
  • Theme: Zoya is from a wealthy family and the only way for her to find happiness is either through an unwanted marriage or to move to New York with a slight promotion makes for a very depressing outlook. I was hoping for some kind of uplifting element to it, whether reasonable or not. There’s a bit of a promise at the end, but it leaves more doubts and questions than answers. I was hoping for Zoya to embrace who she is as a dark-skinned, fat woman who has her own hopes and dreams. It’s not really there. I was just disappointed. I am probably projecting my own opinions on to the book, so in time I may feel like the ending was more satisfactory than I do now about 24 hours after finishing it.

Long Story Short

Do I recommend this book? Yes, but with a note that this is more of a critique of societal norms than a full blown romance. Honestly if Bhatia were to write a sequel I would 100% be down for it! I want to know how Zoya’s life turns out after this novel with everything that happened in this one!!! If you’re willing to bare through the internalized dialogue to make it to the great parts of the plot I totally recommend reading this with a plate of dal, samosas, and lassi next to you.

The Rules of Arrangement by Anisha Bhatia

I received a complimentary copy of this books from NetGalley with Alcove Publishing for an honest and fair review. All thoughts are that of my own. Thank you NetGalley and Alcove Publishing for a wonderful read!
Here is the Amazon Link (I am NOT affiliated with Amazon)
Are you looking forward to reading The Rules of Arrangement? Have you read anything else that’s similar?


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