When Dimple Met Rishi
by Sandhya Menon
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.
I’ve surprisingly read more contemporaries this year than I usually do, but hands down? This is my favourite. And not just because of the Indian rep! That was a draw to me picking the book up, not actually enjoying it. The enjoying it came from the fact that it was a breeze to read. The characters jumped off the pages at me. They were real and visceral, and they were familiar. They could easily be people I’ve grown up with. The fact that there is a lot of Hindi sprinkled through the novel just adds a touch of realism to the novel for me too.
Dimple is stubborn and a little firecracker. I’m honestly surprised no one ever refereed to her as a pataka in the story, because that would have been super accurate. Her situation is something I am familiar with, from a distance, because my parents were never truly worried about getting me married the way her mother seemed to be. But the whole appearances thing? How her mother was constantly after her to dress a little nicer, to wear a little make up? Yeah, I got that – I still get that – whenever we had plans. It is the little things that jumped out at me about her situation. She wanted to focus on school (thank you, parents, for encouraging me to graduate before marriage) and her career and her dreams, and was worried love and relationships would hold her back. Was convinced it would. I can relate. I’ve seen that with people I know, though I was lucky to have a supportive and encouraging family, and now with my husband and in laws too.
On the other hand, Rishi – I found myself relating to him too. Oldest child, feeling the pressure of being the responsible one, while the younger is a little more rebellious and care-free. Yeah, I’ve been there too. I’m not a hopeless romantic like he is, but I loved that about him. I expected a little bit of a typical Angry Young Man character like is still popular in Bollywood, but instead I got a cute mess of a young man, who was trying to figure out who he was when his life was turned on its head by the whirlwind that was Dimple Shah. He seemed more easy-going at first glance, but there are many times where we see that he can be just as stubborn as Dimple is. It made for an entertaining read to see them butt heads and try to pretend they were not as affected by each other as they were.
The side characters were also interesting. I really liked the fact that we have a few Indian American characters with different approaches to their heritage and lives, though I would have liked another female Indian American in the same age range as Dimple. Still, I loved the book, and I loved how vibrant it was, and I really, really want to see it as a movie some day.