Review: When Dimple Met Rishi – Sandhya Menon

DimpleTitle: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date: 1 June 2017
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pages: 384

So what happens when level-headed and career-driven Dimple meets the more traditional, hopeless romantic, Rishi? Well, he refers to her as his ‘future wife’ and she, quite rightly, runs away…

When Dimple Met Rishi is a contemporary YA novel about arranged marriage. When the pair meet, Dimple has no idea her parents have made the match and she immediately rejects the idea, having no interest in her mother’s insistence that she must find the IIH (Ideal Indian Husband). Instead, her interests lie in coding and completing the six week summer camp that could be the making of her future career.

Despite this, Dimple and Rishi get to know each other over the course of the six week camp and find that they do, in fact, have a lot in common. Could their parents really have been so successful in making a compatible match? And, if so, what does this mean for their futures and the plans they had made?

I loved When Dimple Met Rishi. It is so much more than just the ‘arranged marriage romcom’ that it has been pitched as. It features relatable teen characters, with complex hopes, dreams and opinions, as they approach college. Far from living in a fairytale, their romance is complicated thanks to the weight of expectation from their parents and the desire, on Dimple’s side, to move away from the traditional role she is expected to fill. They are at the age where their parents are starting to come to life as real people, not just as parents, and their complex relationships with their parents are explored brilliantly. As with any cross-generational relationship, there is a balance of respecting their parents, but not necessarily aligning with their more traditional values, and loving them, but not always appreciating the pressure they bring (be it a real pressure or just a perceived one).

The highs and lows of Rishi’s relationship with his brother, Ashish, are beautifully played out. Despite their differing views on respecting their parents’ values which often pulls them apart, their love and respect for each other always survives their conflicts. We see that Rishi – who otherwise can appear near perfect – is flawed in his assumption that Ashish is simply being difficult. I loved that him seeing Dimple stand up to her parents’ plan for her helped him to understand that Ashish is not just rebelling for the sake of it, but rather because he is being true to who he is.

Dimple is, by far, the star of this book for me. Intelligent, passionate (for coding!), wise and headstrong, she’s the perfect heroine. Her romance with Rishi is complex, well-developed and ridiculously cute.

The only fault I can really find with When Dimple Met Rishi is that, despite being on a six week summer camp, the last three weeks are skipped over very quickly. I can understand the need to keep the plot moving, but I could have happily spent another fifty pages with these characters! I also found it odd that they had a talent show – full of dancing, singing and magic – at a coding camp. I can’t help but wonder if this is a slightly unwise plot device, but perhaps such talent shows are common to US college camps like this?!

Even with these minor niggles, this is an excellent YA contemporary. Comparisons to Rainbow Rowell are overused, but I am amazed to say that, in this case, it is valid. If you loved Fangirl, this is the perfect book to go straight to the top of your summer reading list.

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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