This has to be one of the most adorable books I’ve read this year.
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon feels like sipping sweet iced tea while stretched out in the sun. It is an energetic and lighthearted YA romance as well as an exploration of culture, young adulthood, and identity with warmth and sincerity. Featuring the dual perspectives of two Indian-American teenagers and infused with Hindi culture, Menon portrays exactly what it is like to be a young adult on the edge of the future with questions about your dreams and aspirations. With Insomnia Con as the backdrop of this tale, a competitive summer tech program on app development in San Francisco, when the worlds of Dimple and Rishi collide, the result is nothing short of beautiful.
So let’s get into what I loved about this book.
The book reminded me of the sensation of falling in love.
I felt the slow tumble into the world of first love like an old memory. Menon’s storytelling brings to life the excitement and thrill of romance, weaving the tender and vulnerable moments of blooming love with the joy of friendship. I absolutely adored the characters, I thought my heart would explode.
Dimple Shah, you make me want to high-five you. Dimple’s dream to be in the tech world as an independent woman who is judged by her intellect and not her face had me cheering. She also has no plans to find her IIH (Ideal Indian Husband), and she thinks and acts like a feminist. It is refreshing to see more of that in YA.
Rishi Patel, you made me swoon. Rishi is an utterly hopeless romantic who likes tradition and wants to honour his parents while struggling to follow his dream to be a comic book artist. He’s totally on board with his parents’ idea to match him with Dimple. What made him so undeniably cute was his belief in destiny and the fabric of history, a complete contrast to Dimple who comes across as practical and not interested in sticking to tradition at all.
Their first encounter is simply hilarious: Rishi approaches Dimple, thinking she knows about the arrangement and jokingly says, “Hello future wife”. This is promptly followed by Dimple throwing her iced coffee at him and running away in shock. #couplegoals. But what follows this rather rocky start is a blooming friendship where Dimple and Rishi constantly challenge each other. They’re a recipe for laughs and adorable moments. They’re also both huge nerds with an understanding of parental expectations and the pressure to strive for excellence. The development of their relationship felt organic, each moment filled with banter and chemistry.
There is a strong presence of culture and family throughout this novel, something I found to be quite brilliant.
Although I’m not Indian, I felt a familiarity with the burden of parental expectations and personal dreams. I liked how the book embraced both Dimple and Rishi’s cultural identities with no shame and expressed it with enthusiasm. I particularly loved the hybrid dialogue of Indian and English, especially in the conversations between Dimple and Mamma.
I also liked how the prospect of arrange marriage was portrayed in a positive light. The term itself sounds mortifying, but the whole idea is to see if they are compatible. Their parents, while not so chill all the time (the Ideal Indian Husband is just around the corner, Dimple!), were completely understanding and only want what is best for their children. This gave the story such an genuine voice within the Indian culture.
The writing is also absolutely fantastic. I loved how it was in third person because it’s not often I find a YA novel in third person that is executed so well.
It shows the realistic process of starting a new chapter in your life.
Leaving high school and moving onto university is a huge step. It’s terrifying and you’re stuck navigating waters you don’t have a map to. That’s the beauty of YA though, the uncertainty that lies before the characters forces them to make decisions; like the choice between following what you love and what is realistic enough to land you a job is something a lot of young adults will struggle with. The book also taps into family expectations and the pressure young adults put upon themselves to succeed with a genuine manner.
When Dimple Met Rishi is incredibly sweet, full of laughs and driven by characters you will fall in love with – a truly delightful read. It will take you on a swoon-worthy adventure, filling your heart with adorably dorky moments and impeccable food appreciation. This book has snuggled itself in a corner of my heart, so I suggest you make room for this on your YA shelf.
Disclaimer: Date A Book/Netgalley gave me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.