To start off this review, here are some actual reactions from me while reading:
“Oh, Rishi. You have no idea.”
“Can I just keep reading instead of going to work?? Is that something I can do?”
“Can’t handle the cuteness!”
Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publication: May 30, 2017
Rating: 4 Stars
I really don’t even know where to start with this book! It’s been one of my most anticipated reads since the moment I found out about it, and then I was lucky enough to win an ARC of it in a giveaway on Twitter. The excitement was real!
When Dimple Met Rishi is an own voices, young adult contemporary that follows the story of Dimple, a fierce, driven young girl who is ready to start her life after graduating high school. Those plans do not include finding her Mamma’s idea of the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Despite that, Dimple feels she’s made progress with them when they agree on letting her attend a summer program for web developers. There she meets Rishi, at first glance he couldn’t be more opposite of her. He’s a hopeless romantic, driven by practicality and Indian tradition. He’s all for attending the same summer program as his future wife. The thing about love is, it’s unexpected and unexplainable.
“Are you afraid that you don’t belong here? Or that you do?” –Sandhya Menon, When Dimple Met Rishi
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. It has everything you could want a cute contemporary, perfect for summer, to have. Plus it was a romantic comedy and it was HILARIOUS.
When Dimple Met Rishi is told through the alternating perspectives of Dimple and Rishi. And they are both so lovable and relatable. Dimple is fierce, she knows what she wants and will stop at nothing to get it. I related to her a lot because I have the same fears and I get anxious about a lot of the same things as her. She won’t let anything stand in the way of her and her dreams. She’s the kind of role model we need teens to have. Rishi is traditional and “hopeless romantic” might be an understatement. He is everything I expected him to be and yet surprises me around every corner. I related to him also, because being the older sibling has had a huge impact on his life. He is kind and understanding, and the exact opposite of a stereotypical rich kid. He’s unapologetically himself, and he’s not afraid to stand up for the people he loves. I’m pretty sure he’s made it onto my list of favorite male characters.
It’s not every day in young adult literature that you get good representations of family and friendships between girls, and When Dimple Met Rishi had both. Dimple may not always see eye to eye with her family, but I could feel the love between them while reading. No matter what, they will always love each other. Rishi constantly shows how much his parents mean to him, and the lengths he will go to to make them happy. I really like the first born, second born dynamic between Rishi and his younger brother Ashish because it reminded me a lot of my sister and me. And then there’s the friendship between Dimple and Celia, which I found to be an excellent representation of friendship between girls. Every time I thought it was going to turn to girl hate, it didn’t. I loved that. They were there for each other and genuinely good friends from beginning to end, they had their differences of course, but what real friendships don’t have rough patches?
“I feel like an Indian American here, and when I’m in India, like just an Indian. I see them both as equal and valid for me.” –Sandhya Menon, When Dimple Met Rishi
Because this book follows two Indian-American protagonists who are the children of immigrants, I cannot speak on the representation but would like to point out that it’s an own voices novel and I’ll link some reviews I’ve seen from Indian reviewers! That being said, I love the insights into Indian culture and tradition, and how it’s a completely different take on arranged marriages than I’ve ever seen before in books. This book is important, with many important themes and dialogues.
Now we come to why I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5. It is beyond important and I think Sandhya has created a book that needs to be out there and it needs to be read. But there was quite a bit of use of ableist language throughout the entire book, it really could have used different wording in many places. Also, just the writing, in general, could have been brushed up on. I found a few plot holes that stood out to me, and also with the alternating points of view in 3rd person, sometimes Dimple and Rishi’s perspectives blended together. I’m not sure if that was purposeful, but I think it would have been interesting to read it where their perspectives were in 1st person. There are ways to use 3rd person to bring the audience into the story more deeply than in 1st person, but I don’t think that was achieved here. More than anything, the story being told in 3rd person perspectives brought me out of the heads of the characters rather than pulled me in.
“Like his heart was wrapped in microwaved Nutella.” –Sandhya Menon, When Dimple Met Rishi
All that being said, I definitely recommend this book! It’s so important. Below you’ll find some reviews from Indian reviewers that could speak on the representation in the book. Thank you for reading!
Ivy Book Bindings (She isn’t Indian, but she’s South Asian American and I really liked her review)