TITLE: When Dimple Met Rishi
AUTHOR: Sandhya Menon
PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse
RELEASE DATE: May 30, 2017
GENRE: New Adult Fiction, Contemporary Romance
PAGE COUNT: 380
When Dimple Met Rishi is a light-hearted rom-com for anyone who’s ever questioned what they want from life. This book excellently portrays the dilemmas “new adults” face when leaving the nest, and explores generational relationships when cultural traditions are at stake. We even get a fab feminist protagonist to lead the way on this adventure.
Fresh outta high school, 17-year-old Dimple Shah can’t wait to begin her career in coding. University is her chance to finally escape her mother’s pressure to attract the “Ideal Indian Husband”, and prove her smarts by designing the winning app at Insomnia Con, a summer program that offers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with her idol, Jenny Lindt. The last person Dimple expects to meet there is Rishi Patel, the marriage prospect her parents neglected to tell her about. Enraged Dimple and mortified Rishi are lumped together to create Dimple’s dream app and discover what they truly want from life.
There was no way she and mamma were related; they may as well have been two entirely different species. “Seriously? That’s what you think I should be relegating my brain space to? Looking nice? Like, if I don’t make the effort to look beautiful, my entire existence is nullified? Nothing else matters—not my intellect, not my personality or my accomplishments; my hopes and dreams mean nothing if I’m not wearing eyeliner?” – page 6
Hoorah for Excellent Discourse
When Dimple Met Rishi is a rom-com based on the following formula: hot-headed woman meets wealthy man and compromises her career plan to have a relationship with him (think Taming of the Shrew). In such a plot, we’re smacked in the gob by the assumption that 1. an ambitious, self-confident woman must be “tamed”, and 2. a woman must sacrifice her career to fulfil the traditional role of homemaker, while a man’s career is his exclusive purpose and priority.
However, When Dimple Met Rishi inverts these stereotypes: Rishi values his Indian heritage and wants to start a family, while Dimple is allowed to balance love and career however she likes… if she ignores societal expectations and realises her right to make this choice.
Dimple and Rishi’s story touches upon many issues vital to new adult readers, especially those who grew up with different cultural and religious backgrounds to the majority of their peers. It explores making sense of multiple cultures in your identity, and what children owe their elders: will there ever be a perfect balance between what your parents expect you to do and what you want from your life? While the romance is the focus of the story, these themes make it a richer read than your typical rom-com.
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? – page 143
A Few Things Let Me Down
The best thing about Dimple and Rishi is the discourse inspired by their character arcs. Sadly I didn’t always find them believable, sometimes questioning if their actions were only for plot progression. Dimple’s roommate, Celia, especially has a shallow and predictable arc that doesn’t add depth to the main plot. I found Dimple and Rishi well-spoken beyond their years. I also found it slightly annoying how the pair always act like the wise and responsible Mamma and Pappa to the secondary characters.
This is probably an unpopular opinion, but does anyone else feel like this book belongs to Dimple, and that Rishi’s chapters weren’t vital to the story? I like Rishi, but I didn’t empathise with him or find his point of view added much to my reading experience. The chatty tone of the narration would have worked amazingly if the whole book were told from Dimple’s first person point of view — a style I personally would have found more engaging.
Let’s talk about sex. My biggest criticism is that the topic of sex wasn’t given enough attention. The topic came up for the first time half way through the book, and was resolved way too quickly. Dimple and Rishi are so reflective and analytical about every other aspect of their lives, so I expected them to overthink it, allowing the sexual tension to build slowly. Since having a romance is a big milestone for each of them, it stands to reason that having a sexual relationship would be an ever bigger one! I wanted more of their thoughts about their cultural point of view of sex and what this means to them personally.
The plot is very fast-paced, but the predictability meant I was invested in the themes instead of the story development. As a result, I found the first two thirds of the book very slow. In the final third, the build up to the emotional climax captivated me. I think the characters’ dark moments were truthful and emotionally gripping. From this point on, I couldn’t put it down until I’d finished the whole book. How the themes and character arcs tie up in the final chapters bumped up my review from three stars to four.
When Dimple Met Rishi is probably the most meaningful and thoughtful rom-com you’ll read this year. It’s perfect for young adult and new adult readers who want an adorable and entertaining read with exceptional themes. While the writing is average, I am grateful for the messages it offers. I’m sure this book will mean the world to the right reader.
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