WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI and Sex Positive YA, a guest post by author Sandhya Menon and a GIVEAWAY
Today we are honored to host author Sandhya Menon as she discusses writing a sex positive YA story. We’re also giving away a hardback copy of this upcoming YA title, one of the most anticipated YA releases of 2017.
Growing up, my parents and I never discussed sex. It wasn’t even something that they considered discussing with me, I’m sure. In general South Asian parents don’t ever, ever talk about sex with their children. It was weird, in the South Asian community, if your parents were open about that kind of thing, and they were usually judged pretty harshly by the other parents; being that open was viewed as putting your kids on the path to promiscuity. I didn’t really figure out all of the ins and outs of sex—so to speak—until I was well into high school, and only then thanks to other overzealous, (non-South Asian, naturally) high school students who couldn’t wait to share their exploits.
So you can believe me when I say that putting in a sex scene into my debut YA, When Dimple Met Rishi, was something I agonized over. I knew South Asian people (and others who don’t typically discuss sex with their teenage children) would be reading this—strangers, acquaintances, friends, those in my family, etc. What would they think? Would they feel that the book would corrupt the youth of today? Would they glare at me for breaking the unspoken rule—no South Asian adult shall educate unmarried South Asian youth about sex until the night before their wedding, and only then in the vaguest terms? I spent many a sweaty day fretting.
In the end, with my editor’s blessing (she’s Cambodian American, and shared my concerns), I decided to put it in there. It’s not on the page, per se…I fade out once things get going. But I do also very plainly state what’s going to happen. Dimple and Rishi have a very frank and open conversation about sex and what it means to them, and even talk about using a condom to be safe. In some ways, I still can’t believe my family members in India might read this one day soon. (And that I’m not immediately begging Simon & Schuster to stop the presses.)
Why, then, given my anxieties about it, did I put the scene in and leave it there? Honestly, I feel like it’s time for adults in the South Asian community to begin having those conversations with our sons and daughters (especially our daughters, who’ve traditionally been kept in the dark the longest). Not talking about sex doesn’t prevent sexual activity. If anything, it only makes sex something carried out in shameful secret—which means more venereal diseases and unwanted pregnancies, more unneeded psychological pain and damage.
I certainly don’t think all teenagers need to have sex. Sex depends on the individual, and readiness will vary with emotional and physical maturity, among other factors. But I do think that talking about healthy sexual practices like consent, birth control, and readiness (and for South Asian teens, that may well mean considering their parents’ stance on premarital sex) should become more of a practice in our homes.
Most importantly, by writing the sex scene in When Dimple Met Rishi, I wanted to show that sex can be safe and positive, something that, when undertaken with care, is a normal part of a consensual, adult relationship even when the individuals in question aren’t married. I hope it opens the door for teens in households where sex isn’t a part of the conversation to approach it in a non-threatening, healthy manner.
About WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI
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. (Simon Pulse, May 30th)
Meet Author Sandhya Menon
Sandhya Menon is the author of WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI (Simon Pulse/May 30, 2017) and a second YA contemporary coming in the summer of 2018. She was born and raised in India on a steady diet of Bollywood movies and street food, and pretty much blames this upbringing for her obsession with happily-ever-afters, bad dance moves, and pani puri.
Sandhya currently lives in Colorado, where she’s on a mission to (gently) coerce her family to watch all 3,221 Bollywood movies she claims as her favorite.
Visit her on the web at http://www.sandhyamenon.com.
U.S. residents can enter by Saturday, May 20th to win a hardback copy of this swoon worthy book. Do the Rafflecopter thing below to enter.
Filed under: New YA
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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