Published by Simon Pulse on May 30th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
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I was looking for a light contemporary read for my day off and when I read the synopsis for Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi, it sounded exactly like what I was looking for. And what a cute read it was! It’s fun, romantic in an adorably nerdy kind of way, and it also focuses a lot on family, especially the drama that can arise when children have hopes and dreams that are at odds with what their parents want for them.
Dimple Shah is a career-minded young woman. She has just graduated from high school and plans to attend Stanford University in the fall, where she will study web development and coding. She can’t wait to move out and get away from her overbearing mother, who is obsessed with finding Dimple the “Ideal Indian Husband” and is constantly criticizing Dimple for not wearing makeup, for not doing more with her hair, and for, just in general, not doing more to attract the ideal husband. Dimple desperately wants a break from her mom’s nagging and knows what would make for a perfect means to escape, if her parents will go along with the idea: a summer program at San Francisco State University for aspiring web developers. Dimple doesn’t think her parents will go for the idea, but when she broaches the subject with them, they’re all for it so off Dimple goes to SFSU.
Rishi Patel is also college-bound. He will be attending MIT, a prestigious university that is sure to secure him a lucrative career. Rishi is also a hopeless romantic who embraces the idea of arranged marriages. He knows that his parents have selected an ideal candidate to be his future wife, and so he is 100% on board when they tell him that he can meet her if he attends a summer camp at SFSU.
Who is this ideal candidate? Why, Dimple of course, which explains why her parents were so quick to agree to her attending this summer camp. What a plan these parents have come up with! Too bad no one thought to clue Dimple in. When she arrives at campus, she is immediately accosted by some weird guy who greets her as his future bride. Talk about awkward! Dimple flings an iced coffee all over Rishi and runs off, afraid that he’s some kind of crazy stalker dude. Things take a turn for the even more awkward when Dimple and Rishi are then assigned to be partners for the duration of the camp and have to work on a project together.
Will Dimple be so put off by what her parents have set her up for that she refuses to make nice with Rishi, or will Rishi be able to win her over?
Dimple and Rishi. These two are such likeable characters. At first I wasn’t super crazy about Dimple because she was so rude when it came to pretty much anything her mom said. I just kept thinking ‘Be nice. She’s the only momma you’ve got.” At the same time though, I could completely understand her frustration. When you’re heart set on pursuing a career, and a good career at that, it’s got to be a kick in the head having your mom so focused on you “improving” your appearance so that you can bag the ideal husband.
Although it took me some time to warm up to Dimple, with Rishi, on the other hand, it was love at first sight. He’s just this precious young man who is totally into his heritage and who also wants to make his parents happy. I just wanted to give him a hug when he came bounding up to Dimple, like an enthusiastic puppy, only to end up shot down and drenched in iced coffee. Rishi, of course, has no idea that Dimple has been left in the dark about the whole arranged marriage idea, but as soon as he realizes she’s at the camp for her career and that she has no interest whatsoever in making a love connection while there, Rishi apologizes and is even willing to withdraw from the camp and go home to make things less awkward for Dimple so that she can focus on what she came to learn. How can you not fall for a guy who is willing to do that?
Nerds! I also loved that both of them are basically awkward nerdy types. Dimple’s into coding, and Rishi, even though he’s going to MIT, which is nerdy enough on its own, also has a secret passion – he loves to draw comics and is exceptionally gifted at it too. Books that feature nerdy characters are my favorites, so this was just perfect for me.
Diversity. If you’re looking for a great diverse read, When Dimple Met Rishi fits that bill as well since the two main characters are both Indian Americans. I liked that many aspects of Indian culture were presented and that they were worked into the story in a way that flowed very naturally in conversations like one between Dimple and Rishi where Rishi explains to Dimple why he embraces the idea of an arranged marriage. I just loved Rishi talking about why so many Indian traditions are important to him. It’s nice to see a young person who sees the value in heritage and tradition, and he seems to open up Dimple’s eyes to aspects of her own culture that she had paid little attention to as a child.
My only real issue was the subplot with Rishi’s brother. It just felt unnecessary since the main purpose the brother served in the story was to help explain why Rishi feels so strongly about not ever disappointing his parents. He’s trying to make up for his brother’s behavior. That’s not to say his brother is a bad kid. It’s just that Rishi’s brother does whatever he wants, whenever he wants, whether it makes their parents happy or not. Beyond that, his character wasn’t really developed too much more. I actually can’t even remember his name as I’m sitting here typing my review, so I think the story would have worked even better without him showing up at the university and inserting himself into the plot.
If you’re looking for a fun and diverse summer read that’s delightfully nerdy and contains a hint of romantic possibility, you’ll definitely want to check out When Dimple Met Rishi.
RATING: 4 STARS
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.