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May 2022 Adult Top Picks

Such Big Dreams
A Novel
By (author): Reema Patel
Reema Patel


McClelland & Stewart



Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


General / adult
May 10, 2022
$23.00 CAD


8.25in x 5.51 x 1 in | 0.92 lb

Page Count:

400 pages
McClelland & Stewart
FICTION / Coming of Age
A savvy former street child working at a human rights law office in Mumbai fights for redemption and a chance to live life on her own terms in this fresh, propulsive debut novel about fortune and survival. Named a Loan Stars Top Ten Pick, a CBC Canadian Fiction title to watch, one of Audible’s Best Debuts of 2022, and an Amazon Best Book of 2022.

Rakhi is a twenty-three-year-old former street child haunted by the grisly aftermath of an incident that led her to lose her best friend eleven years ago. Constantly reminded she doesn’t belong, Rakhi lives alone in a Mumbai slum, working as a lowly office assistant at Justice For All, a struggling human rights law office headed by the renowned lawyer who gave her a fresh start. 

Fiercely intelligent and in possession of a sharp wit and an even sharper tongue, Rakhi is nobody’s fool, even if she is underestimated by everyone around her. Rakhi’s life isn’t much, but she’s managing. That is until a fading former Bollywood starlet tries to edge her way back into the spotlight by becoming a celebrity ambassador for Justice For All. Steering the organization into uncharted territories, she demands an internship for her young Canadian family friend, Alex, a Harvard-bound graduate student. Ambitious, persistent, and naive, Alex persuades Rakhi to show him “the real” India. In exchange, he’ll do something to further Rakhi’s dreams in a transaction that seems harmless, at first.  

As old guilt and new aspirations collide, everything Rakhi once knew to be true is set ablaze. And as the stakes mount, she will come face to face with the difficult choices and moral compromises that people are prepared to make in order to survive, no matter the costs. Reema Patel’s transportive debut novel offers a moving, smart, and arrestingly funny look at the cost of ambition and power in reclaiming one’s story.

    PERFECT FOR BOOK CLUBS: An accessible, immersive page-turner with a winning female narrator and an evocative setting, about the complex choices we make in order to survive and succeed. 

    SKEWERS THE WESTERN WORLD’S IMPULSE TO “HELP” LESS DEVELOPED NATIONS: Full of candid depictions and biting social commentary about Western international development people. Will have readers questioning their own assumptions about how they would “fix” India.

    INSPIRED BY AUTHOR’S FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE WITH SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUES BOTH IN INDIA AND CANADA: Reema worked in Mumbai’s social justice sector for a brief time in her early twenties, first as an intern in a street child-focused NGO, and again in a human rights law office after her first year of law school. For the past decade, she has worked in Canadian non-profits, legal aid clinics, and for provincial and municipal governments, most recently as legal counsel for the City of Toronto.

    HIGHLY PROMOTABLE AUTHOR: Charming, whip-smart, and an all-round impressive person, Reema will be a dream to promote.

    INTERNATIONAL PUBLICATION: Ballantine US will publish in June 2022. 

REEMA PATEL holds a B.A. from McGill University and a J.D. from the University of Windsor. After working in Mumbai in the youth non-profit sector and in human rights advocacy, she has spent the last ten years working in provincial and municipal government. Such Big Dreams is her first novel, and an excerpt from the novel won the Penguin Random House Student Award for Fiction at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. She lives in Toronto, where she currently works as a lawyer. 

Author Residence: Toronto, ON

Author Hometown: Toronto, ON

Author Website: www.reemapatel.com

Author Social Media: Twitter: @ReemaJPatel; FB: reema.patel.507; IG: reemajpatel

“Riveting…With a captivating arc and solid character development, the story highlights the impact of greed in a poverty-stricken Mumbai. It’s a powerful debut.”
—Publisher’s Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)

“Such Big Dreams charts the ambitions, disappointments, and dreams of two people who are improbably thrust together as they try to find their way in—and make their mark on—a bustling Mumbai that’s indifferent to their struggles. Unflinching and unsentimental, yet written with compassion and insight, Such Big Dreams is a richly textured and powerful novel that, like Mumbai itself, pulsates with humanity. Reema Patel is a writer to watch. I absolutely loved this book.”  
—Bianca Marais, author of Hum If You Don’t Know the Words and If You Want to Make God Laugh

“From the very first page, Such Big Dreams grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. Reema Patel’s prose jumps with energy, plunging the reader into a page-turner of a story that doesn’t shy away from exploring hard and painful truths about the way people navigate the systemic conditions of society. With assured writing, Patel explores themes ranging from societal elitism to the nuances of interpersonal betrayal and never loses sight of pacing. Visceral and kinetic, Such Big Dreams is a splash of a debut.” 
—Zalika Reid-Benta, author of Frying Plantain

“Mumbai has inspired many great novels about the city, and now we can add Reema Patel’s Such Big Dreams to that list. Her portrayal of Mumbai is fresh and vivid and personal, in part because of the novel’s charming and perceptive narrator, Rakhi, whose daily life straddles the city’s distinct social and economic classes and geographies. I left the book with a sigh of regret, feeling already the loss of Rakhi and the gift of Patel’s Mumbai.” 
—Shyam Selvadurai, author of Funny Boy

“An astonishingly gifted storyteller, Reema Patel writes with a confidence, insight, and skill that belies her status as a debut novelist. Such Big Dreams is a book that examines how we treat society’s most vulnerable, and leaves us questioning our own perception of the ideas of freedom, safety, charity, and humanity—but it’s also a gripping and emotional story of a young woman who is fighting to live her life on her own terms. A smart, haunting, compulsively readable novel with a tightly woven plot and an unforgettable narrator, Such Big Dreams is a novel you’ll want to simultaneously race through at breakneck speed, and slow down to savour every word.” 
—Amy Jones, author of We’re All in This Together and Every Little Piece of Me

“An appealing debut…. Cynical, street-smart Rakhi is… a sharply drawn protagonist [who] gives this novel power and zest.”
—Kirkus Reviews

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