Rating: 4 Bookworms
Short and Sweet Summary: Dimple thinks that she’s being sent to a prestigious summer program in order to prepare her for college but little does she know that her parents have something else in mind.
Genre: YA Romantic Comedy
“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?”
WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI was definitely a new adventure for me. As someone that knows next to nothing about the Indian culture it was cool immersing myself in their culture. Typically if a book I’m reading is mixing in a different language it’s usually Spanish and since I’m fluent I can easily read it but seeing as I’m not fluent in [insert language] I had to use the context clues the author provided. I’ve heard stories of the struggles of first generation immigrants but it was interesting reading about it.
He could swear, as he drove down the tree-lined street in the late morning light, that he saw dozens and dozens of flickering ghosts–his grandparents and their parents and their parents–watching him, smiling. Escorting him to his destiny.
It was beginning. Her freedom, her independence, her period of learning–about herself, about the world, about her career. She was finally doing it. Here she wouldn’t be Dimple Shah, wayward, Americanized daughter of immigrant parents; she’d be just Dimple Shah, future web developer.
Culture is obviously a big part of the book and a big part of the characters’ lives. With Dimple and Rishi you get two warring views about embracing their Indian culture, as you can see from the quotes above. To Rishi his Indian culture is a huge part of his life; he regularly makes references to his ancestry and he has even been to India to visit family and to see where his parents lived. He is all for an arranged marriage even though he just graduated high school. Now Dimple on the other hand wants to get as far away from her culture as possible. She feels suffocated by the cultural expectations that were put upon her starting at a young age. Her mom is constantly nagging her to dress nicer, wear makeup, and most importantly for her to find her I. I. H., Ideal Indian Husband. Dimple just wants to be a normal American teenager as she goes off to college and lives by herself for the first time.
He didn’t want a million dramatic, heart-stoppingly romantic moments–he wanted just one long, sustainable partnership.
Ultimately I think this book is about embracing your culture and individualism. I was lucky enough to have grown up in a town where my Hispanic heritage wasn’t seen as strange or foreign so I can’t imagine what it’s like to be judged and ostracized based on your culture. As a country full of immigrants I think it’s short sighted of people to judge others about something that is out of their control. However, despite what others say, I have learned over time to embrace my individualism. You might be different from the other kids but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, although it may feel like that in the moment. Over the course of the book we really see Rishi and Dimple start to balance each other out; Rishi learns to relax a bit and not solely focus on the pressures that his parents and his culture but on him and Dimple learns to appreciate her culture, family, and where she comes from.
There wasn’t a single place, Dimple realized, that she didn’t want to go right now. Not because she wasn’t picky, but because she could go pretty much anywhere with Rishi and enjoy herself.
Rishi is the prime example of embracing your quirkiness. He’s silly, nerdy, and very proud of his Indian heritage. To him it doesn’t matter what is cool and he doesn’t care if others judge him; he is true to himself 100%, no matter who is watching. Dimple struggles with this a bit. In strange situations she turns into herself and is constantly worried about what others think, even if she puts on a strong front. I think many readers will be able to connect with Dimple since I think we’ve all been in situations where we are self-conscious.
“I wish I could say stuff like that’s a one-off, but it’s not. You’re going to see a lot of it. People getting ahead unfairly because of the category into which they were born: male or white or straight or rich…We need to shake this field up, you know? We need more people with different points of view and experiences and thought processes so we can keep innovating and moving ahead.”
This book also encourages people to follow their passions. Dimple wants to become a web developer even though it’s a male dominated field and, if she follows tradition, she should be getting ready to get married, not focusing on her career. Rishi feels the familial and cultural pressure to be successful. Although he’s not passionate about it, he’s following a career path that he knows would make his parents proud.
I felt like this was a great reflection of the struggle many teenagers go through, especially the up and coming generations. I think more and more we are seeing people pursue their passion instead of opting for jobs that many would been ‘stable’. In this sort of new, open minded society we live in it is more acceptable to become an artist or a writer or a dancer. I don’t think we saw that very much in our parents generation, and I think many parents have a hard time grasping the concept of your passion also being your career. I love that this was so intricately woven into the conversation of this book and I think it will help many teens struggling to find the balance between duty and what they’re passionate about.
If this was how Rishi Patel showed his interest in her, if this was him wooing her, she wanted more. More, more, more.
Warning slight spoilers ahead, proceed with caution.
If I had to criticize any part of this book, it would be when Dimple and Rishi decided to have sex. To me it didn’t fit with the characters and it felt more like a way to show the audience how modern the characters are and how American and not Indian they are, which I don’t think was necessary. It didn’t add anything to the story, didn’t help push the plot, and almost felt random and forced into the story. There are books where the sex seems to happen organically, but to me this is not an example of that.
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.
Buy WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI here:
About Sandhya Menon:
Sandhya Menon is the author of WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI (Simon Pulse/May 30, 2017) and a second YA contemporary coming in the summer of 2018. She currently lives in Colorado, where she’s on a mission to (gently) coerce her family to watch all 3,221 Bollywood movies she claims as her favorite.
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