Friday, May 19, 2017

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon


When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

What I Liked:

When I first saw this book I thought, Indian rep written by an Indian author? YES PLEASE! I'm Indian and I often have such a hard time reading YA books with Indian protagonists or set in an Indian setting or based on Indian culture or folklore - because these YA books are often written by white authors, and I'm often incredibly disappointed by those stories. This YA contemporary romance is so fun, lighthearted, and it struck a chord in me.

Dimple Shah is off to Stanford at the end of the summer, and she can't wait to start her college career in technology and coding. But first, she is going to attend Insomnia Con, a summer program for aspiring web developers. Rishi Patel is also going to Insomnia Con, but he has a goal in mind: woo Dimple Shah, his future wife. Dimple has no idea that Rishi's parents and her parents have put Rishi up to this, and so color this girl surprised when she and Rishi first meet and he says something about them getting married. Though Dimple has no intention of getting married anytime soon, she doesn't mind starting a friendship with Rishi - especially when they are partnered to work together on the project for Insomnia Con. But Dimple does not expect to fall for Rishi, and Rishi doesn't expect to fall for Dimple. They may have had a rocky start, but they are meant for so much more.

This book is written from both Rishi and Dimple's POV, which I loved. Dimple is clueless to her parents' arrangement with Rishi's parents, and she thinks that her parents are simply sending her to Insomnia Con because she wanted to go. Rishi, on the other hand, knew everything, and thought that Dimple did too. Their first meeting is hilarious! Poor Rishi. Anyway, I liked getting the chance to read from both of the characters' POV. 

Dimple was both completely relatable and yet sometimes not. I understand her so well; she feels stifled by her parents' traditions and culture, and she feels 100% American. And yet, she doesn't quite fit in. Dimple has always preferred computers to people, and she is adamant about not getting married and started a "domestic" Indian life. At times, Dimple was hard to relate to, because she was mean to Rishi, and in a cruel way. BUT I think this was all very well written, because we could clearly see her character development, from start to finish. She goes from selfish and cruel and recluse, to more open, considerate, and understanding.

I adored Rishi, much more than I liked Dimple (don't get me wrong, I did like Dimple). Rishi is the opposite of Dimple - he holds tight to his culture and heritage and traditions, and he wants to please his parents in every way possible. He is a good boy, a sturdy and steady presence. Honestly I'd prefer a Rishi to a "bad boy" any day - give me a nice, dorky guy with a fantastic sense of humor and a lot of confidence that doesn't seem like arrogance, and I'd be happy. Seriously, Universe, I'm waiting for my own Rishi Patel.

On a personal note, this book made me so happy. I feel like I'm a perfect mix of Dimple and Rishi - I'm a first-generation American and I'm American (like Dimple), but I try so hard to hold on to my culture and traditions (like Rishi). I also loved all of the Indian food, the Hindi, the clothing, the Bollywood movies/references, and the other subtle touches of Indian culture that Menon infused into this story. So much of it was recognizable to me, even though I am much like Dimple and Rishi (not straight from India, but still Indian). 

Another thing I loved about this book was how Menon explored social and socioeconomic themes. There are many stereotypes when it comes to Indian people - we're cheap, traditional, over-the-top flashy, good with computers. In this book, Rishi's family is super rich, and Dimple's family is middle-class, sort of on the lower end. You can see this social divide very clearly, with Dimple noticing Rishi's expensive accessories and him paying for expensive food. I liked that the author subtly included a socioeconomic/social class undertone in this story, because it felt important to discuss, especially in the context of Indian families. 

So I adored Rishi, and I liked Dimple. As a couple, they are so cute. They butt heads at first, and Dimple is so rude to Rishi. But Rishi is a kind and sweet guy from start to finish - too good to be true, honestly. I didn't love how Dimple treated him initially, but I like how she felt bad about it and made efforts to starting over with him. The progression of their friendship is gradual but very fun to watch. And the progression of the romance is even more fun! They are an adorable couple, and there are some cute moments, and steamy moments. 

Insomnia Con is always in the background, and it is very important to Dimple. Rishi also has a passion that he hides - creating comics. This becomes an important part of the story, because Rishi's plan was to attend MIT and study engineering. College, parental relationships, friendships, and self-identity are such vital themes of this book. Menon did a great job of weaving all of these into the story, without making the story too heavy.

There is a little drama in the last 10% of the book, but it is resolved in a satisfying way. Both characters own up to their mistakes (not just one or the other). I love seeing both characters swallow their pride (and not just Rishi, for example). The ending is a lovely, perfect ending!

What I Did Not Like:

I already mentioned this but I didn't really love Dimple at first! She is callous and rude to Rishi, and irrationally so. BUT. This is all part of her character development, and she definitely grew on me. So, just as heads up!

Would I Recommend It:

I highly recommend this book to my fellow South Asian friends (especially Indian), especially if you're first-generation American. This book will (hopefully) resonate with you, like it did with me. I felt parts of myself in both Dimple and Rishi, and that really struck me. This is so important, and it's so subtle - this book isn't a statement book (in terms of the self-identity aspect). And yet, that subtle part of the story was so important to me.

And of course, in general, if you're looking for a fun, cute YA contemporary read, this is definitely a great read. Lots of swoons, a little bit of angst, and so many warm and fuzzies after finishing the book. You won't regret it!

Rating:

4 stars. It took me entirely too long to crack this book open! I regret not reading it sooner. I am so pleased with this story, and though I think I love it differently compared to other readers, I am glad that I love it in any case.


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

18 comments:

  1. I'm adding any YA book you love on my TBR, Alyssa and this one is no different. It sounds really great! <3

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  2. It sounds great and I love that the author got the first gen culture just right. Yeah, I struggle with mean characters too though with her growing out of it, I guess that would be acceptable.
    Great review!

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  3. This is one of my top 2017 reads. I loved this story. It was fun and made me smile from ear to ear.
    Sam @ WLABB

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  4. I've been so excited for this one! I'm really glad to hear that you loved it and cannot wait for this one to finally get into my Kindle!

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  5. I was eager to see how you felt about this one, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Tradition is important but we are also American, so it's always a mix...I'm definitely excited to have won a preorder bc though I don't read a lot of contemporary books, this one seems to call out to me. (I'm not Indian but I know all about culture mixing with American ideals)
    @TeacherofYA

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  6. So happy to hear that you enjoyed this one! It sounds so cute and it's one that I definitely plan on buying eventually. Great review!

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  7. Yees, definitely looking forward to this! Sounds like I'm going to really like Rashi! I've noticed in other reviews too that Dimple can be a bit frustrating at first. I'm glad this was an enjoyable read for you! Lovely review, Alyssa!

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  8. I have heard a lot of great things about this book! I need to read it. I love that although you might not have liked Dimple at first she was able to grow on you. I also love a swoon worthy Rashi!! Great review!!

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  9. Yay! I'm so happy you liked it. I looooved it to pieces! And just like you, I'm waiting for my own Rishi Patel.

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  10. I can't wait to read this one! Just found out about it a few days ago but after reading your review I'm very excited, especially since I've never come across a South Asian YA author writing about South Asians (I'm sure there are quite a few, I guess I just need to find them). This book sounds really sweet and also super relatable. Great review, Alyssa!

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  11. I've had my reading eye on this book since I first heard about it. Thanks for the excellent review!

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  12. I already have this in my Amz cart and I can't wait to get it. All the great reviews have made me curious. I am eager to meet Dimple and Rishi. Plus, I love reading own voices stories.

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  13. This book sounds so adorable and fun! I love the cover of it! I'm super excited to pick this one up after your review! I am pretty sure that this will be a contemporary that I will like! Lovely review as always! :)

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  14. I want to draw hearts all around this book. It is just so adorable!

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  15. Eee, yay :D So glad you adored this book Alyssa. <3 Yay for relatable characters :) And this one seems so so cute. Sigh. Yay for cute romance too :D But ugh, she's rude at first? :( I do not approve. Aw. But still really curious about this one :D

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  16. I loved how both Rishi and Dimple struggled with being "first generations" and how both of them didn't fit in for various reasons.

    And I agree, Dimple was surprisingly spunky in the beginning, I felt so bad for Rishi!

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  17. Woohoo -- yes for four stars!

    I love when contemporary novels do split POVs between main characters -- especially for a romance. I think it makes it so much easier to ship/see/believe the two characters as a couple when that happens.

    I am also really glad that this is own voices - my BFF is also Indian and can never find herself in books. I think I may just have to buy her a copy for her bday!

    This might be one I have to buy and jump ahead of the review queue :)

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  18. Awesome review, Alyssa! I was intrigued by the cover, btw! I still haven't read it but I thik this would be awesome to listen on audiobook!

    I also think that own voices is awesome! I read a books about Filipinos written by a non-Filipino and also one written by a Filipino, and let me tell you that it is really different. Which is why own voices should be supported not just diverse reads!

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