This book, oh my God (or rather Oh my Gods, as Rishi would say), it was such an adorable read, that I had a stupid grin on my face all the time that I was reading it, and you know what? I couldn’t even shake off the darn grin once the book was over!
However, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to say this – since I just finished this book, and I am attempting to review it right away (unlike other books, where I let my feelings settle), I am possibly still in the bubble of joy that I was in, while reading this book, so my views are most likely biased in that sense.
But hey, if any book can put you in this kind of a happy bubble, I feel it totally deserves the gush.
But that’s not even the point. Honestly guys, I am just so happy that this book exists.
And there are several reasons for this, but the most important one is the fact that finally Desi kids in US will be able to see themselves and their culture represented in a book – front & center, and not just as a token character/reference to make the book seem more diverse. God knows we have enough of those!
When Dimple Met Rishi – Book Review
Okay, to begin with – I loved the premise. It’s not the typical boy-meets-girl romance (well okay in some ways it is), these two get introduced because of an ‘arrangement’ for them to meet (an arrangement that only one of them – Rishi – is aware of) at Insomnia Con – a summer camp for budding coders, which is exactly what Dimple is.
She is the only daughter of immigrant parents, and has always felt this pressure from her mother to conform to the Indian way of life, while she has always felt American. Of-course the definitions of both those titles are debatable, and unfold as the story progresses, but for now, this background is important to know to truly understand Dimple.
Dimple also has a love affair with web development (and is extremely gifted in this area, which is why she got accepted into Stanford) and has this huge girl crush on Jenny Lindt, one of the top female entrepreneurs in the country, who is not only Dimple’s idol, but according to her, is also the shining beacon for the coming wave of girls in tech.
In-fact Dimple’s reason for attending Insomnia Con is two fold – primarily to develop the app of her dreams, which will save thousands of lives, but more importantly to meet (and work with) Jenny Lindt, which happens to be the prize for winning Insomnia Con.
Rishi on the other hand, being the hopeless romantic he is, is attending Insomnia Con mostly to meet and get to know Dimple, because while he is accepted in an engineering program in MIT, web development isn’t his true calling. The thing that he is truly passionate about is creating Comics. But try telling that to Indian parents, right?
Which is why, Rishi doesn’t, and lives in denial, deliberately slotting his passion as his hobby. And no it’s not because he is a coward, he just cares deeply about the people in his life, and wants to do right by them, even if that costs him his dream (which again, he doesn’t believe is his dream, because, you know…denial).
Having said that, Rishi has many many wonderful layers to him. This is a boy who is sure of himself, who is grounded in his identity and his culture, and has no qualms about it. He not only accepts his cultural legacy, but revels in it.
There is a particular paragraph in this book, where he speaks about how he feels about his culture, his legacy, and his world view being an Indian growing up in America. And that is precisely when I fell in love with his character.
“I feel like I need to speak out, because if no one speaks out, if no one says, ‘This is me, this is what I believe in, and this is why I’m different, and this is why that’s okay’, then what’s the point? What’s the point of living in this beautiful, great melting pot where everyone can dare to be anything they want to be?”
To make a long story short, Rishi is just everything good and right in the world, wrapped in one hard-to-resist package.
Also by Sandhya Menon: From Twinkle With Love
Dimple & Rishi
When Dimple Met Rishi is essentially the story of Dimple & Rishi, during the summer they meet & get to know each other, and how they navigate the arranged marriage set up, while working towards their individual goals & aspirations, which in Rishi’s case involves working through his denial with respect to his passion for comics.
And while it was wonderful seeing them connect with each other in-spite of being polar opposites, it was heartwarming to see them change, and adapt & grow as individuals due to their association with one another, because they not only challenge each other’s world view but also expand it in a beautiful and positive way.
Other Things I Loved
There are many things I loved, but in the interest of time, I will only list two things
A Positive Story About Arranged Marriage
Arranged marriage is a huge cultural thing in India and even among the Indian diaspora elsewhere, but more often than not, it’s painted in a bad light – almost like the parents are bullying the bride & groom into marriage, which is so not the case. Anyway, that’s a topic for another post. As far as this book is concerned, I liked the fact that the story was a positive reflection on arranged marriages.
Indian American Kids Are NOT Clones of Each Other
Okay so with this one, I am going to just say it like it is, without mincing my words. I am fed up of the stereotype that Indians are subjected to in Non-Indian literature. There are always these token Indian characters, who have pretty much the same stereotypical attributes, almost as if we are all clones of each other.
This book finally (and thankfully) got rid of the many obsolete stereotypes. There are 4 characters in this book – Dimple, Rishi, Ashish, Hari – same age group – all Indian Americans – and no one remotely like the other. What a concept, right?!
Also check out Ashish’s story (from When Dimple Met Rishi) in There’s Something About Sweetie
What Could Have Been Better / Different?
Now for some nitpicking. This is especially hard to do, when it’s a book I love, but..
I would have liked to see a more developed story-line when it comes to the web design aspect of this book. After all they were there (at Insomnia Con) because they (at-least Dimple) wanted to develop an app that will change lives, and while the goal was accomplished, I would have loved to have more scenes of them actively working on this app, and seeing how it comes to fruition. But that’s possibly just the nerd in me speaking.
Also, I felt like the romance could have used more oomph, more angst, but then it would also be more filmy, and less realistic, and knowing me, I would even crib about that, so there is really no pleasing me, which is why I am going to shut up now.
This was just awesome meets precious. A very honest and heartfelt story which managed to be effortlessly hilarious and heartwarming at the same time.
So if you enjoy contemporary romances, look no further, and pick this one up, because it’s just an absolute delight!
That’s all from my end folks. I would love to hear from you guys. Have you read When Dimple Met Rishi? Do you know of other good books that have Indian American kids as protagonists? Do share!
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