When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
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.
Sometimes I forget how much of a stinking romantic I am. Sometimes I forget that I believe in true love more than I believe in nearly anything else. Today I remember. My heart is completely melted.
I want to start this review by saying this book didn’t quite line up with my expectations based on other reviews. Everyone was talking about how this book is “so much fun” and “pure cuteness”, so I was expecting a mainly fluffy love story. And don’t get me wrong, the book is fun and cute. But there is so much MORE going on here. There’s depth to this story and these characters that kept it from being a purely feel-good read. Which isn’t a bad thing! In fact, I would argue it’s a very good thing! It made this book better. It’s just different from what other reviews led me to expect.
I. LOVE. RISHI. PATEL. A lot of times we hear people complaining that the teens in YA books don’t read like teens, but rarely do we get a thirty-five-year-old living in a teenage boy’s body. I’ve never felt so seen! Yeah, most kids aren’t more concerned with having a family than a great college experience, and most of them don’t want a serious relationship. Rishi is. I was. I remember deciding when I turned sixteen that my previous career ambitions were ridiculous because if I had to work on the weekends I wouldn’t get to spend time with my kids, and deciding instead to become a teacher instead. It’s exactly the kind of thing Rishi would do. I ADORED him.
I loved Dimple too. I loved her fierceness and sass, the way she knew what she wanted and she went for it 110%. I loved the way she refused to wear make-up or “fix” her hair. I loved that she was open to changing her mind about love. I saw a lot of myself in her, too. A lot of my insecurities. Insecurities about my appearance, my relationship with my mom, the practicality of falling in love at eighteen.
And isn’t that the mark of a great book? When you see yourself in the characters? (Or am I just so self-obsessed that I can see myself in *any* character?)
Girls in STEM!!!! Why did nobody tell me this book was about girls in STEM?!?! GET IT IN THE SCHOOLS!! Put it in all the girls’ hands!
I loved the romance. I found the way Dimple and Rishi fell in love so quickly to be utterly believable. Actually, they reminded me a lot of my and my college boyfriend (now husband). When a guy’s that crazy about you, it’s hard not to fall in love with him. Especially when you just get each other like Dimple and Rishi did. I loved how comfortable they were together, but also how butterfly-y their chemistry was. It was great to see teens feeling awkward about a first relationship, but not so awkward that you want to stop reading. I got ALL the feels.
Also, THIS BOOK HAS AN EFFING DANCE MONTAGE!
While the backbone of this book is a totally ADORABLE romance, Menon wasn’t afraid to tackle the bigger issues. Racism, sexism, peer pressure, family pressure, the immigrant experience. It’s all here. And it’s tackled with heart (if not nuance).
I also really appreciate that Menon wrote dynamic family relationships. It seems like family is a very important part of South-Asian cultures, and books featuring South-Asian families are often dynamic and interesting. I love how Menon balanced the expectations of Indian parents with still making them loving and supporting. I admit, when Dimple and her mom finally have their moment at the end of the book I cried a little. Okay, a lot.
My biggest critique is that the dialogue, especially the slang, is sometimes cringy. I think sometimes it’s meant to be, especially when it’s the future-frat-boys speaking. But at other times it was … seemingly not on purpose? It wasn’t enough to take me out of the book or stop enjoying it, but it was enough that I noticed.
So, they’ll be making this into a movie, right? Because they can just take my money now.
I loved this book. It’s cute, smart, and heartwarming. I just want to go wrap myself up in a cuddle-ball of happiness now. ❤