Hello, perfect summer beach read, how do you do? When Dimple met Rishi is exactly what I wanted and needed it to be. I had just finished Lord of Shadows and I could feel a book hangover coming on. I picked up something that I knew would be light, heartwarming, and cozy. While it was all those things that I mentioned, it also was a beautiful display of Indian culture in America.
I’m a sucker for some heartwarming YA, who isn’t? I heard about this book a few months ago when the advanced reader copies came out. I could not wait to get my hands on it. More and more, fans of the young adult genre have been begging for more diversity. When Dimple Met Rishi is, at its core, a love story, but it is so much more. It is a glimpse into the traditions and lives of two very different children whose families immigrated from Mumbai, India when they were children.
Dimple does not see herself as conventionally pretty. She is an aspiring web developer, and she is frustrated with her mother’s pursuit of the Ideal Indian Husband (I.I.H.) for Dimple. Dimple gets permission to go to Insomnia Con, a 6-week intense web design program before she leaves for college. Finally, her parents are finally embracing her beliefs, her hopes, her dreams, and accepting Dimple for who she is. Little does Dimple know, her parents agreed because the gentleman they have “arranged” for her to marry will also be attending. Enter Rishi, stage left.
Rishi works very hard to please his parents. He is the oldest son of a wealthy Indian family. Everything Rishi does is to make his parents happy because he feels he cannot count on his brother to do the same. Instead of pursuing his dream of drawing comics, he plans to go to MIT. There he will learn computer science and web design. Rishi believes an arranged marriage is the right choice for him. A marriage built on compatibility, mutual respect and trust, not something as temporary as lust or love. He goes to Insomnia Con to meet his future wife, Dimple.
After what can only be described as a very uncomfortable meet cute, Dimple discovers her parents set her up. Mortified and hurt, Dimple takes her frustration out on poor Rishi. When they are partnered for the app design project, Rishi offers to leave. Luckily, Dimple recognizes that none of this is Rishi’s fault, and she decides the summer will be easier if she befriends him. As their friendship grows, Dimple learns that Rishi is not always perfect. Dimple encourages Rishi’s comic book drawing. She cannot understand why he would give up something that means so much to him.
As their friendship grows into something more, Dimple hesitates. She had not planned for love. Dimple worries that being wrapped up in a relationship could hurt her career. I could really relate to this part of Menon’s story. Women often feel torn between relationships and their careers. I spent a very long time putting thoughts of romance on hold because school and work were more important. I regret that.
Amidst all of this, we get to see Dimple and Rishi’s experiences interacting with the supporting characters. The Aberzombies are spoiled, rich, entitled jerks. They begin Insomnia Con belittling Dimple, and never redeem themselves. Dimple is easy prey. She rarely fights back because she learned at a young age it is easier to ignore it. However, Rishi does just the opposite. He immediately fights back or embraces what the Aberzombies mock. Both Dimple and Rishi come to terms with the expectations of their families. Rishi by figuring out what is important to him. Dimple learns her mother just wants Dimple to find happiness, with or without an I.I.H.
Suffice it to say, I cannot heap enough praise on When Dimple met Rishi. Sometimes you just need a happy ending, and this book delivered.