Tuesday, 26 September 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon

'"Hello, future wife," he said, his voice bubbling with glee. "I can't wait to get started on the rest of our lives!"'


Needless to say, I was super excited to read When Dimple Met Rishi. Why? Not only is there an iced coffee on the cover (important but ends up being mistreated in the actual story), but it is an Indian-American young adult book about Indian-American teenagers battling with issues that come from the melding of these two different cultures. In short-hand; it's not super-American and stereotypically boring like most YA novels! How great is that?

It's also worth noting that in this book, the female main character has a passion for coding! It would be great if I didn't need to award medals for 'girls wanting to do ''''men's'''' jobs in young adult books' but you would be surprised with how rarely that happens. Ew.

Anyway, When Dimple Met Rishi stars Dimple, weirdly-named quirky Indian girl living in America, pressured by her mum to find an Ideal Indian Husband but wanting to do web design and not get married. The other half is Rishi, a traditional Indian teenager who's also living in America but more fond of stability and making his parents proud. They meet at Insomnia Con, a course of sorts for aspiring web designers and the sorts, where Rishi thought they were going to get together and Dimple has never heard of him before. Plot ensues. Also, for some reason, this technology course includes a talent show, winning which helps you win the whole thing? Please explain your logic, book.

As said, I had high hopes for this. But alas, India and web design both take a back seat as Dimple complains constantly about: rich people just because they're rich, perfectly well-meaning parents caring about her, a nice guy being nice and wanting to be strong and independent and not in a relationship. She also takes every opportunity to emphasise that she is definitely 'Not Like Every Other Girl'® because she doesn't wear make-up or love shopping for clothes et cetera. Not only that, but her friend Celia, who does enjoy these things, is described as being less of a decent person because of it? (Feminism PSA: It's okay if you like these things or if you don't, as long as you don't put other people down for thinking differently!)

 Meanwhile Rishi is so ridiculously, over-the-top nice that it just made me doubt if he wasn't secretly trying to be annoying. You know? Like, I may have liked him more if he had some actual character flaws beyond just being painfully nice and extremely polite or whatever.

Talk about over-the-top, this book actually reads a lot like fanfiction, in that it has great representation but big parts of the plot are just too nice and too convenient and no way no one actually does that in real life (looking at you, Rishi). And I love good fanfiction. The book also tries to convince you that it's different from other such works, while being exactly, completely like them.... yeah. Also, what is essentially the main conflict (*insofar as this book has one) is resolved around half-way through. What happens after that, you ask? Nothing, really. Nothing.

Essentially gonna give this a 2/5 just because Indian representation and a couple of cute moments, but I can't really recommend this to anyone with a good conscience.

For the Helmet 2017 Reading Challenge I put this in category 33: A book about India. Yeah, I know, I'm reaching again but hey, Indian characters, Indian author... roll with it.

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