“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.
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.”
After almost a month without updating my blog, I finally come back with my review for a book that I had highly anticipated since the first time I heard about it and saw the cover. To be honest, I used to enjoy YA books a lot in the past, yet in these past few years as I’ve grown older, I’ve found that my reading taste has changed quite a bit. The fact that I tend to find almost every YA book having either the same premise, or the same kind of tropes, or the same type of characters, made me distance myself a bit from the genre, and move towards other types of books that could satisfy my interests. And so every time I hear about a certain YA book that somehow diverts from the canon of what the genre is usually about, I can’t help but feel a sense of excitement. And unfortunately, that excitement did not last long.
When Dimple Met Rishi is a contemporary YA book that features the story of Dimple, an Indian American teenager who loves coding and anything that has to do with computers. Her whole life, she has found herself unable to identify as Indian, and has always thought of herself being more American than Indian. While her mother has always imagined her daughter meeting a man and settling down to start a family, Dimple has always had other plans. She wants to go to college and she wants to stay far away even from the idea of meeting a guy. But everything changes when her parents allow her to go to Insomnia Con, a kind of retreat for coders and computer geeks who go there to win the prize of developing an App and meeting a very famous coder, who also happens to be Dimple’s idol. Little does Dimple know that her parents accepted her going there because they have made plans for her to meet with Rishi, the son of a family they have known for a while. And so does the story begin.
To be fair, I think that the whole hype surrounding this book made me like it even less, because I was kind of expecting it to be one of the best contemporary books that were being published this year. And it was FAR, FAR from being that. It wasn’t necessarily a bad book, I did enjoy myself while reading it, yet I found it undeserving of all the hype it has gotten. And I feel extremely conflicted admitting this, because it is a diverse YA book, something we don’t usually get within this genre, and I was really looking forward to reading a book with such different characters. Sadly, the end result wasn’t all that good. So let’s get into what I liked and didn’t like.
I want to talk about the plot. Where was it? What was the plot of this book? Yes, contemporary books usually don’t tend to have overly complicated plots, but still, GIVE ME SOMETHING, ANYTHING! The whole book was about Dimple meeting Rishi, and the whole drama between the two of them, getting together and then regretting the decision, only for them to get back together again. I was given the idea that the book was going to deal with a lot more about their traditions, their heritage, their difficulties as children from Indian immigrants living in America, and how hard or easy it would be to have to deal with those two cultures. We only got glimpses of how hard it was for Dimple to identify herself as Indian, because she never truly felt like she was anything other than American. And the opposite could be said about Rishi. He was a religious guy who followed their traditions, listened to his parents, and wanted to settle down while still young. But that was it. There were only a few conversations that dealt with the conflict of identity, but it was only touched upon lightly. And don’t even get me started on the whole Insomnia Con. Even though we are told that Dimple’s passion is coding and that she wants to win the prize so that she can develop an App, we are not told anything about this App or anything related to it! The whole book focuses on Dimple and Rishi’s relationship drama more than anything else. And that is what made me start lose interest in this book. I wanted to learn more about Rishi’s comics, I wanted to see more of Dimple’s passion for coding, I wanted to see both of these characters interacting more with their families, and by the end of the book, I honestly couldn’t care less whether the characters found their way back to each other or not, because I wasn’t invested in them as I should have been for me to actually care.
And then we have Dimple. God, was she annoying. I seriously couldn’t stop myself from rolling my eyes the majority of the times she said or did something that was completely stupid. My main issue with her was her indecisiveness as regards Rishi, because I didn’t understand her decisions. I get that she felt like starting a relationship with Rishi when she was going into college was going to be possibly a distraction for her, but she honestly felt like there was no in-between choice, it was either ‘have a relationship/get married/have children, or go to college and be alone’. Like, hell no. It is possible to maintain a relationship during college without having to think whether you are gonna end up marrying the guy or not in the future, and that way of seeing things that Dimple had -everything’s either black or white, no grey areas whatsoever- really got on my nerves. I understand the pressure she might have had from her parents to find a guy whom she can settle down with, but I think that a lot of her opinions about this whole issue came from her own misunderstandings. Once she opened up to her parents, she saw that they only wanted for her to be happy, whatever that implied, finding a guy or not. It didn’t actually matter, and a lot of her problems could have easily been solved if she had just TALKED to her mother. But yeah, we wouldn’t have had much of a story if that had been the case.
I do have to say that Rishi is quite possibly the cutest and purest male character I’ve read in YA books, where we are usually bombarded with the bad boy/asshole trope so damn much, so it was refreshing seeing a male character being a decent human being for once instead of an asshole. Even though he sometimes was borderline cheesy, Rishi’s character was one of the highlights of this book for me.
I still think this was a cute, fluffy read, and even though it took me ages to finish -not because it was bad, but because I was kind of in a reading slump this entire month- it is refreshing to see books in YA moving away from the canon. It was refreshing to see different characters who shared another culture, to see the way they viewed the world, to see at least a part of their heritage, yet I only wished this book had focused way more on that instead of just Dimple and Rishi’s relationship. I still think that Sandhya Menon’s voice is going to be seen more and more in this genre, and I look forward to reading more of her books because I can only imagine that her writing style and stories will undeniably grow more complex.