If You Love Never Have I Ever, Here Are The Books You Should Read

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Devi Vishwakumar has all the struggles of an average 16-year-old girl in high school, but there's an extra layer of chaos that comes with her being a first-generation Indian-American trying to navigate the demands of modern American society and her mother's traditional Indian values. She wants popularity and social status, and after the traumatic experience of losing her dad to a heart attack in school, Devi is on a singular mission to accomplish her goal. What she doesn't realize until it's too late is that she makes a lot of bad decisions along the way that cost her friends, love, and family.

Devi, played by Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, is the outspoken and headstrong protagonist in Mindy Kaling's Netflix show "Never Have I Ever." Released in 2020 and now in its third season, parts of the show are based on Kaling's own experiences — and it's clear she's managed to conjure up a world that's as lighthearted and funny as it is moving. 

The untold truth of "Never Have I Ever" might interest you, but what might you may also find engrossing, especially if you're a reader, is what books you'd enjoy reading if you like watching this coming-of-age drama. 

When Dimple Met Rishi is a book you'll love if you like Never Have I Ever

The author of "When Dimple Met Rishi," Sandhya Menon, was inspired to tell the stories of young Dimple and Rishi because she felt that young adult fiction didn't have enough books about "teens of color in fun, lighthearted stories," she told The Colorado Sun. While Menon appreciates the need for more serious subject matter in books, she was eager to create a narrative that featured happy endings for people of color. 

Dimple Shah, much like Devi Vishwakumar from "Never Have I Ever," is caught between two worlds. She is irritated by her mother's fixation on finding her a husband of Indian origin and desires to be working towards her dream of becoming a web developer instead. Rishi Patel, on the other hand, seems to embrace the nuances that come with following Indian traditional values. He wants to settle down, to find and be betrothed to his mate. The teenagers are in for a surprise when they realize their parents had "inadvertently" planned for the two of them to attend the same summer program in San Francisco.

Both the book and the show portray the protagonists' frustrations with the concept of arranged marriages and the resulting disagreements with their mothers, who have wholeheartedly embraced traditional Indian values.

The Marvelous Mirza Girls by Sheba Karim is perfect for Never Have I Ever fans

What Mindy Kaling and her carefully chosen Indian-American writers get beautifully right in "Never Have I Ever" is the many aspects of Indian culture, from the Bollywood songs to the terminology. If this was of particular interest to you, you'll find all that and more in the book "The Marvelous Mirza Girls" by Sheba Karim.

It follows the life of Noreen, who's at a particularly difficult point in her life. She has lost her Aunt Sonia and she's just finished high school and feels uninspired. When her mother receives an opportunity to live in New Delhi for a while, Noreen tags along. Her eyes are opened to the wonders of the new and bustling city with which she feels a sense of kinship. She's also introduced to Kabir, a boy who changes her life. 

Author Karim wanted to pen a coming-of-age book framed in the vibrant city of Delhi, India. Speaking to Jean Book Nerd, she says that her hope with the book is that it will inspire readers to ponder on love and feminism. "I'd also hope they reflect about the importance of laughter and human connection, and, if they haven't been to Delhi, feel like they captured a sense of the place through the book," she shares. 

Another book you're sure to love is Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl by Joya Goffney

In the book "Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl" by Joya Goffney, the complicated emotions and experiences surrounding sexual intimacy are explored — a common theme in "Never Have I Ever" as well, making it a perfect choice for fans of the series.

Much like Devi Vishwakumar, Monique, the central character of the book, comes from a conservative background as a preacher's daughter. Sex before marriage isn't encouraged, so when she finds out that she is unable to have sex with her boyfriend, she is determined to find some answers. To her aid come Sasha and Reggie, and the book follows their relationship and what Monique discovers about herself too. The narration is heartwarming and witty even though it explores serious topics, making it a perfect addition to your beach vacation reading list

"Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl" cleverly navigates sensitive topics like intimacy, intimacy-related conditions, and restricting religious views.

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram is another wonderful read for fans of the Netflix show

The topic of cultural identity, especially if you're someone trying to live a life in a country foreign to your heritage, can be complicated to explore. However, author Adib Khorram does a great job of this with his book "Darius the Great Is Not Okay."

Not unlike Devi Vishwakumar from "Never Have I Ever," Darius, who is part Persian and part white, feels like he doesn't belong. He and his father have but one thing unifying them: their illness. The family relocates to Iran to spend time with Darius' dying grandfather, and during his time there, his eyes are opened to his ancestry and himself. The book also deals with the complex nuances behind mental health, another common theme in "Never Have I Ever."

Speaking to YALSA, author Khorram shares that the setting for the story, Yazd in Iran, was inspired by his own heritage. 

One more book you'll enjoy reading is I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir by Malaka Gharib

If there ever were an interesting cultural melting pot that framed someone's life, you would probably find it in comic book author Malaka Gharib's story. Her book "I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir" is a tribute to the many immigrants who relocate to America in search of new lives as much as it is an autobiography. 

Devi Vishwakumar from "Never Have I Ever" is often reminded of the investment her parents made for her to enjoy the things she's enjoying in life right now in the U.S. In her book, Gharib deals with this subject matter too. As a daughter of Filipino and Egyptian heritage, Gharib is forced to juggle her family's expectations, her own, and that of the nation her parents decided to call home. 

Speaking to Publishers Weekly, author and journalist Gharib says that our perception of our parents changes as we mature. "We struggled and fought, but that time was all we got — it was a time capsule," she shares. Gharib's memoir is nothing short of inspirational which could easily mean that it could earn a place in your summer beach reads starring badass women.