[When Dimple Met Rishi] Sandhya Menon

I love this cover! It makes me happy.

When Dimple Met Rishi is a novel about a girl meeting a boy. Or a boy meeting a girl, depending on whose perspective you’re currently reading. The novel is split between the perspectives of Dimple and Rishi, two people who couldn’t be more different. It’s a perfect formula for a young adult romance novel. Dimple is an aspiring web developer whose dream is to code apps that will change peoples’ lives; Rishi is hoping to meet his betrothed before heading off to college across the country. Their parents set up a meeting at Insomnia Con–a convention where the number one prize is having your app funded and put out there. For Dimple, it’s a dream come true; for Rishi, it’s a way to meet his future wife, to see if the match is meant to be. There’s only one problem: Dimple has no idea.

The premise of this book is really adorable. I liked that Dimple and Rishi switched the typical young adult roles. Don’t get me wrong, I love contemporary romances (or romance in fantasy or…), but it was really cool to see that Dimple was focused on her future instead of finding a boyfriend/husband. She wants to have a career before she gets married–and she doesn’t even know if marriage is in her future. Menon wove the pressures of what her parents wanted v. what Dimple wanted through the pages of this novel in a way that had Dimple challenging her preconceived notions about relationships.

But. But.

I was a little disappointed that it changed as the book progressed. I knew going into this that it was a romance novel, but it was definitely at the expense of everything else. Despite this being a seminar for web design, there was little to do with web design. The Insomnia Con went from being in the forefront of the novel to being pushed behind the developing relationship between Dimple and Rishi. It became a way for them to get closer but the actual convention still wasn’t really shown. I was disappointed about that. For a novel that is said to have a very strong female protagonist, I was surprised that it ended up focusing so much on the romance, especially when Dimple’s app was something that she felt so strongly about. This isn’t to say that strong women don’t want relationships or anything like that, but I was surprised because the synopsis seemed to focus a lot on her career goals.

A major disappointment about the novel was the rich-, slut-, popular-, or interest-shaming. It’s such a trope in the young adult genre now that it seems like it will never go away. But it can, if authors stop making it a thing in contemporaries. I understand being jealous of other women that you lash out. I understand that sometimes you do judge people based on what they wear or do. But there’s such a constant undercurrent of judgement and hate in When Dimple Met Rishi that it really bothered me. There was no reconciliation. It just existed and Dimple didn’t learn from it or change her way of thinking. I wish that there had been some sort of change in Dimple where she realized how wrong–and childish–it was for her to think that way.

Despite my disappointments about the book, I do think that Menon did a beautiful job of showing her readers a very vibrant world. I thought that her writing was very colorful and bright. There were a lot of great images that she gave the reader as Dimple and Rishi fell in love. It was a really fun read because of that.  However, the words “pink,” “gold,” and “tinged” need to be struck from the page. It was used a lot. Despite my nitpicks I really did like her way of writing if I ignore the few odd descriptions for people’s actions or how Dimple viewed things.

I thought that the perspectives of Dimple and Rishi were well-written. I loved seeing how their views changed toward each other and the dreams the other had was really touching. What Rishi does for Dimple is really sweet. But what Dimple does for Rishi isn’t really for Rishi. It’s because she thinks that it should happen, despite him telling her how private his sketches are. That’s like if someone took my stories and published them without my permission, citing that they knew what was best for me. It made me really furious on Rishi’s behalf. And then he just…lets it go because it works out? I feel like I would probably hold a grudge–I’d be thankful for my success because of their actions, but I’d still be pissed that they decided what was best for me. That was the one thing that really annoyed be about their relationship because I know how I would react, and it’s not the way Rishi reacted.

I recommend this book for the diverse protagonist and characters, but I hesitate to recommend it due to the heavy focus on how Dimple isn’t “like other girls” because other girls are only interested in art or literature, or like wearing clothes that are different than Dimple’s, or are richer than Dimple. Uniqueness exists in many ways, so I hope that the next book doesn’t shame on differences between the protagonist and the other female characters as much as this one did. There was just a little too much shaming in this one to make me 100% comfortable with it. It put girls and women in too many boxes while Dimple was simultaneously breaking out of hers. However, I am excited for Menon’s next novel because she has a fun and detailed way with words.  I definitely think that Menon is going to be a popular young adult author to watch.

3 stars.

I received a temporary copy of When Dimple Met Rishi from Riveted Lit. When Dimple Met Rishi was published in May 2017.

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