Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon // an okay book with Indian-American representation

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Title: When Dimple Met Rishi

Author: Sandhya Menon

Published: May 3, 2017

Pages: 380

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Amazon / Barnes & Nobles / Goodreads

Goodreads Description: 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.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

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.

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Indian American Protagonists.

If I had to summarize in two words why I picked this book up, it’d be just that: Indian American Protagonists.

Being half Indian myself, this book immediately sparked my attention when it blew up in the blogosphere last year and people were celebrating it for being a refreshing young adult novel. Because I grew up in such a diverse community with many unique Indian Americans, I was personally keen to see how they would be portrayed in the story. On top of that, I hoped that I could learn something new about the Indian side of my blood—particularly arranged marriages. Maybe it’s my fault for placing so much on the book, but I didn’t love When Dimple Met Rishi

The first thing that threw me off in this story was Dimple’s voice.

The second thing that threw me off in this story was Rishi’s voice.

They both used arguably more advanced words for teenagers with such precision to the point that their dialogue sounded strangely forced and formal. There definitely are teens out there who are more sophisticated in their speech, but I’ve never encountered any teens who use the level of practiced eloquence of Dimple and Rishi in conversation. This thought preoccupied my mind while reading and made it difficult to fully enjoy all the events in the story.

In a way, the jarring difference in how Dimple and Rishi talk compared to the other teens in the book highlight how unlike they are from the other kids, as speech is pretty much just thinking out loud. It’s clear in the way they talk that the two are more mature in the way they process the world around them.  They’re a couple of old souls with no tolerance for nonsense. I found these characteristics endearing occasionally, but they were often unsettling. It seemed like the pair were quick to quick label people as “superficial” or “loud” and weren’t willing to meet people halfway to have a patient conversation, especially when these encounters were an opportunity to shut down casual racism. It was hard to empathize with them when they seemed to make snap judgments of people as well.

To be fair though, I understand why they weren’t quick to become best friends with some characters. It’s hard and I can’t say I would do any better in their place 😅 .

Dimple and Rishi’s almost identical style of narration became extremely apparent due to the way their point of view’s would constantly alternate throughout each chapter of the book. I found this confusing and distracting initially, but I quickly came to like the way I was always aware of both character’s perspective of the present situation. Rishi, in particular, would make witty remarks in his head that made me laugh out loud at some moments.

While Dimple and Rishi were comparable in their mature thought processes and speech, they were fundamentally different in the way they viewed their culture and, most importantly, arranged marriages. This [arranged marriages] was the aspect of the story I was most interested in going into the book because it’s a central part of Indian culture and it’s not something I ever got around to discussing with any fellow Indian American. Learning about Dimple and Rishi’s differing perspectives on arranged marriages was very enlightening and has definitely altered my former, baseless opinion on the subject.

As expected, the arranged marriage arch of the story took center-stage in the book, but I found myself wishing to read more about the computer programming competition the two were involved in. Not only that, I wanted to see more of the relationships and dynamics between shy Dimple and her outgoing friend, Celia, as well as considerate Rishi and his tactless brother. I think it would have added more allure to the romance and made it feel less rushed if more emphasis were given to other story lines.

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This story had its flaws. The characters sounded oddly formal, they were often unlikable for the way they view other people, and the romance felt overdone. However, I appreciated this book for depicting two, young Indian American protagonists with conflicting attitudes towards their culture. That in itself is enough reason to give this book a shot.

i liked it


Thanks for reading! Have you read When Dimple Met Rishi? What did you think of it? If you want to discuss the details of the book in the comments, just put a spoiler warning 😊.

Side Note: Can I just say that finally writing a book review after months is so cathartic, especially because this past month has been rough 😂 (if you couldn’t tell by the laughing emoji, my go-to coping mechanism has been humor ✨). I’ll spare you the details, but I will say that I got food poisoning for the first time ever (and as I’m typing this post-dinner, I feel like it may be coming back 😶). Hopefully, your September has been more glamorous, and I wouldn’t mind hearing some positive anecdotes below!

5 thoughts on “Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon // an okay book with Indian-American representation

  1. Ahhh I’m sorry to hear about the food poisoning!!! I hope you get better ☹️. Annnd I gave this book 3 stars too! But I read it after the hype really died down so I actually enjoyed it a lot more. I’m just glad a book with POC protagonists is getting so much buzz

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks- I’m finally starting to feel alive again hahaha.
      It’s nice to know you also gave it 3 stars. I almost felt bad because I felt that I should have liked it more because the protagonists were Indian-American. But, you’re right, it’s just awesome that the story this book is trying to represent got so much attention 😁.

      Like

  2. As an Indian American, I was incredibly disappointed with this book. I had high expectations because I saw so many reviewers raving about the book. They commented on the cultural aspects, and I wish they hadn’t done that. I went in thinking that I would finally have a book where I felt represented. I know that it’s unreasonable to expect a single piece of work to encompass an entire group of people, but reviewers really hyped it up.

    I posted my thoughts on my blog if you want to check it out: https://sweeterfiction.com/2018/10/24/31/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally understand where you’re coming from, Saloni. It’s nice that people want to shed light on an Indian-American story, but it was disappointing that the story didn’t represent me, any of my friends, or you. Hopefully, more honest reviews written by people like you and me can show people that Dimple Met Rishi was not enough and that the Indian-American experience is a diverse one that can not be condensed into a single, YA romance novel 🙂.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I totally agree. I’m glad that there are a lot of people who enjoy the story and feel heard, but I think the most important takeaway is that one book is not enough to encompass an entire group of people.

        Liked by 1 person

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