Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Pub Date: May 2017
My Rating: ★★☆☆☆
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Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
I always do this… I pick up a contemporary romance YA novel even though that I very well know that I will end up not liking them or just feeling a big, unimpressed ‘MEH’. When Dimple Met Rishi was available for limited time for free to read on Riveted, I found out two days before this offer expired, so I was focused on finishing this book fast. There were many books on the offer, but this one stood out for me because I’ve seen it a lot on Booktube last year when it came out. Also, I remember that it has something to do with developing an app and arranged marriage, which sounds interesting.
I have mixed feelings about arranged feelings, I totally opposed it in my culture, but it has a different meaning in Indian culture, and I’m impressed how well it worked for my friend and her parents. And I never read a YA novel that touches on this topic and I was curious to how this will work in When Dimple Met Rishi. Dimple is an Indian American, she was brought up in America and this is her home country, but it is not her parents. They came to America and they didn’t embrace American culture as fully as Dimple had. She opposes to her mother’s idea of an ideal Indian girl, who takes a great care to look a certain way and whose purpose in life is to find Ideal Indian Husband, be domestic and make her parents grandparents. Dimple doesn’t want that, she is not interested in finding a husband or dressing up or doing makeup, her passion is coding. This is strongly stressed in the book, that Dimple is just not like other girls… I hate the ‘you’re not like other girls’ trope… It’s so common that I seriously sometimes even don’t notice it at first, only when I start reviewing a book I start noticing how the character was just not like other girls. It was presented as if there was no other girl in Dimple’s school that didn’t wear makeup, which is impossible. The only place I could imagine all girls will be wearing makeup or will be really into makeup is a makeup school, and she was not attending anything like that.
Dimple manages to convince her parents to finance and let her go to Insomnia Con, a six-week summer program for web developers, where teens can learn coding while preparing prototypes of their own apps. Going a little bit more on the ‘you’re not like other girls’ trope, Dimple is also so different even when surrounded by people who are into the same thing as her. She only meets two girls during this Insomnia Con and both of them are not even that much into coding, and it’s repeated often how they look, what they wear, how they do makeup, that their butt cheeks are showing or whatever… And dimple is modest and virgin, so she is so not like the other girls… Ugh…
What Dimple thought was a generous gesture and a beacon of hope that her parents are starting to understand how important coding is to her, turned out to be an elaborate plan to introduce Dimple to a guy their parents decided is the perfect candidate for her husband. Without telling Dimple, her parents together with Rishi’s parents met and decided that Dimple could become Rishi’s wife. Rishi knows and agrees to this arrangement, and comes to Insomnia Con to meet Dimple there, and spend six weeks with her to see if they are compatible. At first, Dimple is having none of this, but then she just has a look at Rishi’s beautiful eyes and her heart starts to melt. We all very well know how it will all end.
The story has a few inconsistencies, I didn’t focus on this that much but sometimes when reading I was ‘wait, wasn’t that completely different before?’. Dimple said something once, and few chapters later facts changed, rooms changed size, stuff like that.
Another thing I have a problem with is how underrepresented the Insomnia Con was. We only get a first meeting, talent show and winner announcements. Like, it was supposed to be an intense six weeks of learning to code and building apps. Where is this all happening? There is just some brief scene here and there, but it is just of Dimple talking through the idea for an app, and together with her teammate preparing wireframes, something mentioned about them thinking about starting to think about coding. And we get so much about the talent show, we get so much about how they are preparing for it, what is happening during the talent show. And this is just a bit of fun for the Insomnia Con participants, not the main point of the whole thing!
This review might feel like a rant, but truly, I’m not that emotional about this book. It was ok, it was an easy read, nothing special, and nothing that enraged me when reading. Just now when I started reviewing my anger with some aspects of the contemporary romance YA novels was brought up to light. What I liked about the story was location, it’s in San Francisco, and I don’t remember reading any other book set there. Any recommendations for books set in San Francisco? What’s more, I liked how Indian culture was incorporated into the story, I can judge how well it was done, but because the author is Indian I believe it was done well.