“Hello, future wife,” he said, his voice bubbling with glee. “I can’t wait to get started on the rest of our lives!”
Are you looking for a cute summer read? NYT Bestseller WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by Sandhya Menon will be a great fit! This book is fun, hilarious and an absolute pick me up.
A couple of weeks ago, Hachette sent me WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI in a surprise package of books. I’d been wanting to read this YA ever since I found out it was the story of first generation Indian-American teenagers who are set up for an arranged marriage by their parents. I was a little wary of the hype, but I had my fingers crossed.
“The arranged-marriage YA romcom you didn’t know you wanted or needed…
Her main aim in life is to escape her traditional parents, get to university and begin her plan for tech world domination.
He’s rich, good-looking and a hopeless romantic. His parents think Dimple is the perfect match for him, but she’s got other plans…
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.”
The novel unfolds with alternating perspectives of Dimple and Rishi, two teenagers who couldn’t be more different. Dimple is a fierce and independent young girl who doesn’t think twice before shutting down misogyny – even if it’s coming from her own mother. The pressure to fall into a certain role is very evident in Dimple’s life, yet she fights conformity and refuses to back down from following her ambitions and dreams. She’s witty, smart and funny. And she defies sexism and racism throughout the novel. And what’s more, Dimple has a kind and loving heart. Did I mention she’s really smart? She’s a techie!
Rishi, on the other hand, is goofy, cheesy and a little over the top. He was initially a tad bit annoying to me, but his character development was quite good, and thank god for that, because I’d have screamed if his subtle sexism saw to the last page. He’s smart but not very emotionally smart. Early on I wasn’t a huge fan of Rishi, especially because to me he represented how easy life is for boys just because they’re boys. However, his personal struggle is redeeming and presents him as a complex character. He’s also funny, cheesy as hell and does swoon-worthy things to woo Dimple.
First page in, I was instantly captured by the relatable factor – we don’t get many YA with protagonists of Asian heritage, so this was a refreshing read, and a much needed addition to make YA more diverse. If you come from a western background and are unfamiliar with the Indian culture and customs then this will be a very interesting and even educational read for you. It was for me, especially because I live in Saudi Arabia and I’m not very familiar with Hindu culture. One thing I liked about this novel is that it normalizes the idea of an arranged marriage, which is a common practice in many Asian cultures. My views on it are not important right now, but I think it’s a cultural practice that a lot of westerners view as oppressive and limiting. Thankfully, When Dimple Met Rishi throws a little light on the matter. While it may not be appealing, it does come off as a practical way of looking at dating and marriage.
Dimple and Rishi react very differently to the idea of going into an arranged marriage. I loved this, a lot. I also liked that readers get to see why male privilege allows Rishi to have a relatively relaxed approach to life and marriage (if you reflect a bit on his character and situation). It also speaks for why he is ready to do exactly what his parents want for him; settle down and get married to a nice girl who’ll make his life comfortable. Dimple, on the other hand, represents the struggle many young girls go through; you see this in the way she asserts her ambitions and dreams and works hard to pursue them. She doesn’t have the privilege that Rishi does, she is constantly reminded by her mother to look and dress pretty because she’s being trained for a role that she doesn’t want to fall into, not now or even later. Dimple asserts that she doesn’t want to be “domestic”; she wants to make apps that will change lives. So it’s interesting to see how their relationship proceeds with such different perspectives.
Another issue that WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI dives into is the parental pressure behind education. I don’t want to give out any spoilers, but Rishi majorly struggles with embracing his true self because of parental pressure. Many kids, especially in the Asian culture, are told they can either become doctors or engineers. It’s a serious issue that sometimes leads to suicide, and it’s a relief to see it get proper insight through Rishi’s personal struggle.
While I really enjoyed most of the things in this novel, the ending fell a little flat for me and I wasn’t happy about that. Compared to the exhilarating beginning of the novel, the ending was underwhelming. But don’t let that discourage you because When Dimple Met Rishi is hilarious and so adorable.
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