Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
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.
When Dimple Met Rishi features a fierce main character who wants very much to be engaged in technology, a characteristic that made me jump for joy. Dimple acknowledges her rich family heritage while also trying to find her own personal way in this world. She thinks, says and does strongly feminist things. I adore Dimple.
Rishi wants very much to honor his parents and struggles a little more with following his heart as opposed to his parents wishes, particularly when it comes to career choices. Rishi will make you cringe with embarrassment, laugh with joy, and he will make your heart melt in the things he does for others.
There is a strong sense of culture and family that runs throughout this story. In fact, it is one of the few YA titles you can find with teens that have both parents alive and in happy marriages.
So here’s the one thing that I struggled with. For context, keep in mind that I am fiercely feminist and very Western. My formative years were spent in Southern California and my family was surprised when I took my husband’s last name when we married. Keep this information in mind when I tell you that as a reader, I really struggled with the arranged marriage aspect of this story. To be clear, this isn’t truly an arranged marriage, both sets of parents just manipulate events so that the two teens will meet because they believe they will be compatible. I just personally struggled with the manipulation and lack of honest discussion about their intentions and I recognize that this is a personal cultural view that I wrestled with while reading this book.
And the truth is, our parents have a lot of influence and control over many aspects of our lives, so my cultural belief in autonomy isn’t even a very realistic one. I have told my children they couldn’t play with certain other children because of behavior issues or other concerns. Who my children know and interact with is determined in part by the play dates I set up for them when they were younger, by the neighborhood we live in, by the activities we engage in, etc. So it was interesting to me as a feminist parent to read this book and think in challenging ways about the nature of relationships and the influence I have over my teenager’s life. And again, it comes back around to me to culture and cultural bias. As an adult reader, this book challenged me in many ways. Teen Karen would have thought about none of these things and just enjoyed the book.
In the end, this story if not only a romance, it is very much about finding out who you are and what you want in life. I very much enjoyed the characters and the various ways they interacted and grew. I personally am not much of a romantic reader, but I spend a lot of time talking with teens about books and I know that they will love this book because it’s cute, it’s funny, it’s romantic, and it has strong main characters that you will love. It is deservedly getting rave reviews across the board. You’ll definitely want to add this to your collections and get into the hands of teen readers. Highly recommended.
May 30, 2017 from Simon Pulse
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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