I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Published by Simon Pulse on May 30th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 320 •Format: ARC •Source: Gifted
A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.
Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?
Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.
The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?
Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.
A huge shout-out to the lovely Kristin @ SuperSpaceChick for gifting me her extra ARC copy!
When Dimple Met Rishi has pretty much been THE book on most bloggers’ radars for the spring of 2017. With the continual push for more diversity in YA literature, coupled with the adorable concept and gorgeous cover, I know it snagged my attention months and months ago. When I was lucky enough to be gifted an ARC by a wonderful fellow blogging friend, I was ecstatic. One of my goals for 2017 is to read more diversely, and upon starting the story I was thrilled to see that it not only featured a diverse cast of characters, but was set in the Bay Area (I cannot believe I didn’t know this prior to reading!) So I settled in for a story that was sure to capture my heart for a multitude of reasons.
When Dimple Met Rishi reads like a rom-com in the best way. A hilarious “meet-cute,” an anything-can-happen-summer setting, and a colorful cast of family characters who are always hovering around the periphery of the story made it a joy to read. It really captured the essence of Bay Area culture right NOW, from the local references (hey, Karl) to the ever-present technology industry that’s top of mind no matter what part of the Bay you reside in. I loved catching all of the San Francisco references and soaking up the SFSU setting, and reading about InsomniaCon, a completely normal and plausible seeming event that no one in the Bay Area would question. Seeing Dimple as a female character involved in the STEM field and wielding such a desire to design and code was also seriously cool, and her interest in such topics never felt forced or insincere.
What really drew me to the novel, however, was the cultural aspects of Dimple and Rishi’s Indian heritage and how it impacted the plot of the story. The huge, overarching conflict is driven by both Rishi and Dimple’s families hoping to facilitate an arranged marriage between the two of them (a fact that Rishi is aware of, but that Dimple is not). However, there are many more day to day interactions between Dimple, Rishi, and their families that showcase their culture and family dynamics in smaller ways, but that are still really interesting to consider and learn about. Despite their differing attitudes toward their parents and Indian culture (Dimple is restless and resentful, Rishi embraces and encourages tradition), they both are able to bond over their similar upbringing and the notion that their parents and even extended families are ALWAYS involved in every aspect of their lives and their decisions, a concept that is foreign and hard to fathom to their friends and peers outside of their culture. I also loved that over the course of the novel they were able to see each other’s viewpoints, and Dimple was able to acknowledge the positive aspects of her family and upbringing while Rishi eventually realizes that he has been confined and restricted in certain aspects of his life due to his.
While the diversity represented in this novel was my favorite aspect, however I do wish that it hadn’t been juxtaposed against secondary characters who at times lacked complexity and depth to serve the purpose of an antagonist and broad sweeping stereotypes (“Aberzombies,” negative references to Greek life, etc.) I also would have loved to see Celia’s character focus a bit more on her Latin background, rather than her constant friendship dramas with the “popular”/bad crowd (by the end of the book she felt like a caricature of someone trying too hard).
Perhaps what really makes When Dimple Met Rishi stand out is its portrayal of a healthy, respectful relationship in YA. I am always SO excited to come across relationships that can be used as role models, while still portraying challenges and obstacles to the characters being together. While Dimple and Rishi have their fair share of differences, I enjoyed the joy and mutual respect throughout the course of their courtship, the introduction and integration of physical intimacy in an open and rational way, and the message of making relationship decisions for yourself. While the book did at times feel a little “insta-lovey” to me toward the end, I appreciate the overall messages the story sends about what a relationship between two young adults can be.
Overall: When Dimple Met Rishi is a book that will put a smile on your face. It’s a fun and fluffy love story with a diverse twist, wonderfully exploring and depicting Indian-American culture. While I did have a few issues with it, I think it’s a novel that’s needed in the YA contemporary genre that will appeal to many, many readers. I can’t wait to read the author’s future works, and hope that she continues to bring her culture into her YA novels!