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Monday, June 12, 2017

*Grabby Hands* Release & Review - When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Image and blurb from Goodreads
Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publication Date: May 30th, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Category/Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married. 

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.

Buy LinkAmazon
4.5 “Adooorrrbbsss” Stars

OMG this book is so adorable, I almost couldn’t handle it. No. Seriously. I don’t think I’ve read a YA Contemporary Romance as adorable as When Dimple Met Rishi in like FOREVER!

This was me for 2/3 of this book:

I was either smiling like a lunatic or laughing out loud on the bus, on the street, wherever I was, because it was THAT good.

And you know what? It wasn’t the story about two white kids falling in love. Look, I’m not a reader who’ll refuse to read a book because of it’s about white characters or trash an author because of lack of diversity, but I NEED, NEED,  NEED to see more beautiful stories about underrepresented voices with stunning covers and the kind of publicity and hype When Dimple Met Rishi got. It allows people to at least know the book is out there and make the decision to read it or not.

Can we take a moment and just stare at the STUNNING cover? 60, 59, 58…

Now back to the story! I LOVED When Dimple Met Rishi. Like LOVED, LOVED and was ready to give it five stars until the last third of the book. So, for now, I’ll stick with the LOVE, LOVE part.

I was surprised to learn this book was told in third-person dual POV, and I was even more surprised at how much it didn’t bother me. It’s no news I’m a fan of first person, but the author did a good job with the narrative here, putting me inside both characters’ heads. Do I think it could’ve been even better in first? Yes, but it didn’t bother me, so that’s a plus.

The first character we meet is Dimple, and dude she’s hilarious. Dimple is the kind of girl who’ll get on people’s nerves because she isn’t afraid to be herself. She got on my nerves from time to time, but I still loved her for that. One thing I’ll say about Dimple is that I admire when I can read about a main character and spot her flaw right from the beginning, because that makes her more real. For me, it was clear that Dimple was independent to the point of selfishness at times. Again, that’s fine. She felt like a real person. That’s a plus, as far as I’m concerned.

Dimple’s most important interaction (aside from the romantic one) is with her mom. These two women are completely different and want opposite things out of life. Dimple wants a successful career, independence and to live life as she sees fit. Her mother, ruled by her culture and values, want Dimple to get married and have kids. This conflict leads to some hilarious moments, but also some heartfelt ones. I teared up a bit with these two, I have to confess. Mostly, I loved everything they made me feel.

Now, the story takes adorable to the next level when Dimple meets Rishi (couldn’t resist). No, you guys, I’m serious. The way they meet is epic and made me laugh out loud. From that moment on, all I wanted was for more of Dimple and Rishi.

Speaking of Rishi…OMG, OMG, OMG, book boyfriend material alert!!!

This dude is special because he’s so, so adorable and perfect. I loved Rishi to the moon and back. I adored how attentive he was and how respectful of Dimple’s wishes and decisions he was from moment one. Not once did I feel like Rishi was anything but a gentlemen.

Unlike Dimple, Rishi is all about tradition. He takes his parents’ dreams and hopes for him as his own (even though he shouldn’t) because he sees it as a way to respect them. He learns with time to balance that and find a way to fulfill his dreams without disrespecting his parents, and watching him get there is a joy.

Since Dimple and Rishi are so different, I didn’t know how the author would go about making them fall in love, but there was no need to worry about any of that. It was freaking brilliant. Peerrrfect. It came with time, through the two of them sharing their dreams and fears, through friendship. Damn. It was sooooo good!!!

I don’t have words for how absolutely perfect the first 2/3 of this book were. I mean…. PERFECT!!!

But then something happened.


The story lost its sparkle to me when the break up scene (and even a few chapters before that) happened. Look, I’m not mad at the break up. This is how romance works: characters meet + characters interact according to romance trope chosen (fight, become friends, kiss, all the above) + characters fall madly in love + characters break up + characters get their happy ending. This is how it is and how I like it.

My problem with the break up here was how it was handled. The motivation behind it felt… not exactly weak, but jarring. But that I could forgive. While I grew increasingly mad at Dimple for wanting to throw what she had with Rishi away because of her fear, I also understood it. I understood when she said that it looks like women can’t have everything, that it looked unfair of her to ask for everything (a successful career and a happy romantic life), because sometimes that’s true. We have to sacrifice so much, especially when we are part of the minority. I also understood because she’d been fighting her mother’s desire for her to settle down for her entire life, and going with Rishi could feel like she was following that path instead of doing what she wanted. I got all of her fears and, although it hurt me to see her hurting Rishi, I even sympathized with her here and there.

What I couldn’t get behind was the author’s decision to not have Dimple take the lead in fixing the mistake she made.

We’d been following Dimple’s journey to becoming this independent, strong woman from page one, but in the end, she didn’t act that way. She should’ve been the one to fix what she broke. As simple as that. It wasn’t up to Rishi to meet her halfway.

I get it that in relationships both have to compromise and contribute, but Rishi wasn’t the one to break Dimple’s heart and break up with her. That was Dimple. It was up to her to realize her mistake, work through her fears and insecurities and then go fight for his life. She had to take responsibility. When the author made the decision to have Rishi also make the move to go after Dimple, I felt cheated of Dimple’s character development. I truly hated it. It ruined the ending for me, and that makes me so, so sad. Had Dimple acted like the strong, independent woman she’d been up to them and taken responsibility for her action, the whole thing would’ve felt so different, so much better, so much more satisfying.

So, yeah, I’m devastated the story didn’t end in a high note for me.

Putting that aside, this book deserves all the attention it’s been getting. It’s a cute love story between two interesting, intriguing, real and adorable characters, written by an author who understands the culture because she lives it, and perfect for YA contemporary romance fans.  I highly recommend this book and I simply can’t wait for more beautiful diverse stories like this.
*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

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