When Dimple met Rishi
By: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: May 30th, 2017
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.
I know I’m late hopping on this particular train (blame the library and the hold list I had to wait through). But in the end, it was SO WORTH IT to get my hands on this book. If you’re looking for a really adorable teen summer love story, look no further than Dimple and Rishi, because they are adorableness personified.
What you see is what you get here, in terms of romance novel. In a lot of ways it feels almost like a written rom-com, at least at first–but that might be because the premise is kind of wacky in that sort of way. Dimple is very opposed to her parents plans to find her a good Indian husband, and really just wants to do computer things. Rishi, on the other hand, wants the arrangement, and is looking forward to when their parents set the two of them up. And, c’mon, the meet-cute is Dimple throwing her coffee in Rishi’s face–are we going to get more silly rom-com than that?
But after the initial silly bouncing around, this book evens out into a much more nuanced read. For me (and, let’s be honest, Dimple), I think the turning point came when Rishi offered to leave the camp if Dimple really were uncomfortable having him around, even though he would have been out a few thousand dollars. It was such a Darcy-esque move, albeit in a good way, and one that showed that for Rishi, Dimple’s feelings on the matter were tantamount. I mean, who wouldn’t have swooned a little?
And frankly, it just got better from there. Not only were the two of them so adorable together, but they complemented each other so well as well. Dimple was prickly, mostly because she was shy and awkward, whereas Rishi had the perfect combination of gentleness and charm to draw her out of her shell. I also loved how when Dimple’s career-focused path met Rishi’s longing for the domestic life, they mingled and softened each other. Rishi pointed out to Dimple that she could be a kickass coder and also enjoy the more domestic pleasures in life, that her drive didn’t make her less feminine and that she didn’t have to give it up to also want a partner. And contrastingly, Dimple helped Rishi be less quiet about what he really wanted, and showed him that a little passion is no bad thing. SO ADORABLE.
It was also so obvious that they nourished each other and lifted each other up. Dimple helped ease the tension between Rishi and his little brother, and Rishi then turned around and helped Dimple come into a better relationship with her mother. And even though Rishi wasn’t nearly as into coding as Dimple was, he was an absolutely supportive partner to her in every way imaginable. I especially loved how, when Dimple ran into a group of bullies, he was quietly protective, but only stepped in when she wanted him to. But she also encouraged him in various ways–one totally adorable scene was when Rishi invited Dimple to go to a comic-con-esque thing with him, and she even dressed up in cosplay. But with the app they made, it was designed to emphasize their individual, and different, strengths, and I loved it so much.
I also loved how they both took a unique approach to their culture that integrated different parts into their lives. I enjoyed how, even though Dimple shied away from a lot of the things she was expected to embrace, she was always described as wearing kurtas and tunics (albeit with jeans and converses). Rishi had a more conventional mindset, but I loved how he used his culture in pointed ways to open up conversations about diversity. When he said that he said ‘oh my gods’ in order to get people to recognize the hegemony of Christianity and the existence of other forms of religion, I about fell over. And when he rebutted a bully by talking about his experiences with India, I squealed out loud. Mostly, though, I REALLY liked how they weren’t really grappling with issues of culture–at least, not in the way that Dimple Lala from Born Confused was. They weren’t rejecting Indian culture, and they’d already found a blend that suited them both. What issues did come up (marriage vs more American dating, views on premarital sex), were solved with communication about what each of them wanted and what they wanted to compromise on. Which, let me add, is also a FANTASTIC model of a solidly healthy teen relationship that I couldn’t get enough of.
OK, there were so many other things that I could gush about–Dimple’s friendship with her roommate, and how they were supportive of each other without being judgmental–how the socioeconomic gap between Dimple and Rishi was handled–the contrast between Dimple’s drive to do good and the rich white boys who thought they could win if they just got their parents to throw enough money at something–I mean, really, this entire book was a delight. There were so many good things in here that I can’t even list them all in a normal-sized review.
Fortunately, everyone else seems to have noticed how awesome this book is, and Sandhya Menon has not one, but TWO more books scheduled. And Gods bless, I say, because we could all use more really wonderful teen romances in the spirit of When Dimple met Rishi.
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.