When Dimple Met Rishi
Simon and Schuster, 2017 378 pages
Indian-American teen, Dimple, has recently graduated from high school and is attending the summer coding program of her dreams: Insomnia Con, before she leaves for Stanford. Imagine her surprise when on the first day a boy approaches her at Starbucks and declares himself to be her future husband. She reacts like any street-smart California girl would: she throws iced coffee in his face. Unbeknownst to Dimple, the boy, Rishi, is the person selected by her family to actually be her future husband. He is attending Insomnia Con with the sole purpose of becoming acquainted with his future life-partner. Dimple is rebelling from her parents' traditional Indian ways and is more interested in computer coding than husband-finding. When she and Rishi are paired off as partners in the coding competition, she is hesitant to work with him. Eventually, Rishi's personality wins her over and a friendship develops, which turns into something more. Alternating chapters tell Rishi's side of the story, showing his growing feeling for Dimple and his desire to be an artist instead of an engineer as expected. Further complications develop as Rishi's basketball-star brother arrives and Dimple's roommate becomes romantically involved with a preppy snob, who doesn't treat her well. Dimple and Rishi have to balance the competition with their budding romance and come to terms with both cultural and family obligations in order to find their places in the world. Do they win the competition? Will Rishi defy his parents and become an artist? Will the romance survive all of the external pressures and decisions? Read the book to find out!
New author, Menon, takes on an established genre, adding a new diverse dimension. In the style of Sarah Dessen or Stephanie Perkins, Memon offers a teen romance with a touch of comedy that young girls will love. This book especially felt like a Stephanie Perkins book, maybe because of the San Francisco setting, the boarding school vibe, hanging out in coffee shops, or the boy who draws comics, and it reads just as fast. What makes this book stand out is that it features Indian-American young people, complete with their cultural expectations and baggage. Even though a significant chunk of Americans have Indian roots, this population is under-represented in all forms of the media. It is a beautifully vibrant and rich piece of our tapestry and I am so glad to finally see modern Indian teenagers being represented in American books. The romance itself is pretty typical with the usual misunderstandings and uncertainties. Dimple is smarter than most heroines and will serve as a great role-model for teen girls. The roommate situation is a cautionary tale of what not to do, but the girl figures it out by the end and no permanent damage has been done. I would recommend this book for grades ninth and up and not seventh as indicated by the book cover in that Dimple and Rishi attend a party with teenage drinking and they have sex as the relationship progresses, although it is not graphic. As frothy as the high-end drink from Starbucks as depicted on the eye-catching cover, this is the perfect summer read for girls, which is when it is set to be released this upcoming May.