Spartana

October book review

Bethany Villaruz

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WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI

By Sandhya Menon

380 pp. Simon & Schuster, $17.99.

Spartana Rating: 4 / 5 stars

 

There’s no better way to get a date than throwing coffee on your suitor.

At least in the case of Dimple Shah, the coding-crazy protagonist of Sandhya Menon’s debut young adult novel. Dimple is attending the coding camp of her dreams when she meets Rishi Patel. Unbeknownst to Dimple, her parents have picked Rishi as the boy who she will marry.

Thus, she throws her iced coffee on Rishi when he first greets her as his “future wife,” Dimple having no prior knowledge of the arranged marriage she is strictly against.

Dimple is sharp where Rishi is kind, she is rebellious where he is traditional. Menon switches perspective between the two, and does an excellent job letting the reader see each character’s thoughts.

Both Dimple and Rishi struggle with finding their own path when they are surrounded by both Indian tradition and the standards of the world they live in. As they get to know each other, the two push each other to follow their heart and trust in each other.

The plot Menon develops is interesting and nuanced, if predictable. The main characters are all three dimensional, and the internal struggle of each is evident through both their actions and inner monologue.

The book is riddled with romantic tropes, but it is admittedly a fun and easy read with a cute love story. Within the sweet tale of first dates and self-discovery, Menon weaves in commentary on racism, feminism, and staying true to oneself.

Though at times the writing is condescending, as if it is dumbed down for the young adult reader, the lovely story is one easy to enjoy and fun to experience. Dimple and Rishi seem mismatched at first, but still fall easily in love in Menon’s story.

The author is able to casually write cultural nuance in the experience of an Indian-American without alienating a reader who does not share Dimple or Rishi’s heritage. Each approaches tradition in a different way, and it is interesting to see how they learn from each other and relate to their heritage at the end of the book.

Menon can also be applauded for her book’s excellent diversity. When Dimple Met Rishi passes the Bechdel Test (though just by a hair), features at least four characters of color, and an openly bisexual character.  

“It is important for people to read books about people of color in order for respect for people of color… to be established,” said student Annika Schenkel (10).

Though When Dimple Met Rishi has its flaws, Menon is a talented writer who adds some much-needed diversity to the world of contemporary young adult fiction. The coming-of-age love story is light and sweet. The book is an excellent read for students who enjoy contemporary fiction and romance novels, and will certainly hold its own against comparable teen novels.

The views reflected in this article are those of the author only.

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