When Dimple Met Rishi
by Sandhya Menon
Simon Pulse, 2017. 380 pages. Young Adult
Dimple Shah has big plans for her life, and they don't include arranged marriage and becoming the perfect Indian housewife. She thinks she's finally getting through to her parents when they agree to send her to a summer program for teen coders - until she meets Rishi.
Rishi Patel is the poster child of the ideal Indian son; creative and romantic, he loves the traditions and structure of his culture. When his and Dimple's parents suggest that she and Rishi would make a great match, he needs no persuasion. Better yet, they're going to the same summer program. They'll have all summer to get to know each other; he couldn't have planned it better himself. Except the part where Dimple's parents don't tell her about Rishi or their proposed match.
Dimple can't believe her parents would deceive her this way. Rishi can't believe his parents would think such an unconventional person would be a good match for him. And yet, the two aren't quite so different as they think, and despite the way they met, there might be something between them after all...
This book is delightful! I'm pretty picky about reading romances, and this one had me charmed from the start. First, it's a great execution of the "opposites attract" concept. Let's be honest, the trope works, and for reasons - namely tension. Right from the get-go we get fantastic tension between Dimple and Rishi, and unlike weaker romances where chemistry and attraction magically erase deep differences in the couple's values and opinions, Dimple and Rishi just have different perspectives. It's fun to see them come to understand each other, and themselves. This story is so relatable too - you might not know much about Indian culture, but I'd bet that at some point in life you've felt at odds with your parents, unsure about the future, or both scared and thrilled about chasing your dreams (and maybe all three). Now if you are familiar with Indian culture, or at least Bollywood, you're in for a treat. This book pays homage to while also providing some parody on Bollywood cliches. It's subtle, almost like an inside joke, but explained enough that anyone can join in on the laughs. For my fellow movie nerds, think Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg's films comedic nods to genre tropes rather than Mel Brooks' outright parodies. Lastly, this book is nerdy, ever so nerdy, and I mean characters and what they do (they are at an app summer camp after all), so the nerd culture is just one more element that makes this book so fun. And smart. And yes, romantic.