Book: WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI
Author: Sandhya Menon
Rep: Indian/Indian-American, feminism, sex-positivity.
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.
Never have I rooted for a couple as hard as I rooted for Dimple and Rishi.
Right out of the gate, I knew I was going to love Dimple Shah. There’s just something about girls who love their parents but still roll their eyes at them that set my heart on fire. I did not, however, expect to love Rishi the way I did. Seriously, I want a “Protect Rishi Patel at all costs” shirt.
The book starts out with Dimple’s mom hounding her about being more womanly and needing to “fix herself up” to find the IIH- Ideal Indian Husband. I was cringing the entire time but then Dimple broke out with “Mom, your so misogynistic!” and I immediately fell in love. While I am not Indian American, I do understand traditional cultures, aunties, and how sometimes that older generation doesn’t understand why the younger can’t be, well, more submissive and seeing Dimple give it right back to them was a blast of fresh air. I also loved Dimple’s dad- how he sort of just went along with the flow and really only wanted both of the ladies in his life to be happy. Even if they did have ulterior motives (seemingly), I also loved how both parents were willing to front money for their child’s education. That’s an element I sometimes feel is missing from a lot of diverse books- PoC and Native/Indigenous parents are usually willing to sacrifice everything to give their kid an education.
While Dimple resists her mom’s push for traditionalism, Rishis Patel embraces it. And this isn’t a ‘I’ll do what my parents say but internally mope about it’. No, Rishi honestly believes in the power of tradition and wants very much to be the good son, even sacrificing what he really wants out of life in order to secure a more “financially secure” future. That part touched me in inexplicable ways. Most YA novels feature MCs who are going to do what they want to do and chase their dreams recklessly. While I appreciate that sentiment, it doesn’t ring true for me. Rishi wants to work towards a future that includes being able to provide for his family, and not just his wife and children. He explicitly states that he wants to be able to take care of his parents in their old age and that felt truer to me than anything else in the book. I come from a fairly traditional background where we take care of our elders (parents, grandparents, uncles/aunties without children) and I think this is what connected me so deeply to Rishi.
If you follow me on twitter, you know my first reacting to Rishi and Dimple meeting was “RISHI NO!” This kid… is a dork. He’s a huge dork. He’s a huge, classy dork who makes bad jokes, can’t dance, and pretty much falls for Dimple the first time he meets her. Dimple is a little more… reluctant. While this book has a happy ending (a big, sweeping, beautiful happy ending), it also stays very true to it’s characters and their beliefs. It was interesting to see a YA story where the love interest had to give in more than the MC and, let’s be honest, I really enjoyed that. I enjoyed seeing the boy give in so that the girl can have what she needs.
This book is also super sex positive. I was a little worried about how sexuality would be treated in the book but it’s definitely portrayed in a positive light. There is a lot of consent-seeking in the book and GREAT communication of what each partner needed or wanted or didn’t want. Dimple’s roommate has a very quick, very random hook-up and she isn’t shamed for it. In fact, the shock of the hook-up isn’t the act itself but rather who her partner was.
I loved the relationship between Rishi and his brother, Ashish, and how we got to see it unfold. Ashish is the exact opposite of Rishi in every respect and there is a lot of tension between them during most of their scenes together. It was nice to see that tension somewhat resolved by the end.
Listen, there is nothing about this book I didn’t like. It’s hard for me to find a YA book that keeps me smiling the whole way through, but this one did. Even when there was a conflict, I knew Dimple and Rishi were going to get their happy ending. Not just because it’s YA contemporary and that’s how it goes, but because they fit together so well and the author developed so much chemistry between the two that there was NO WAY they wouldn’t end up with a happily ever after.
If you’re looking for a feel good book, this one is for you.