Published by Hodder & Stoughton!
Both Dimple and Rishi come from Indian families, but whilst Rishi is set on upholding the practicalities and traditions of arranged marriage, for Dimple holy matrimony could not be further down her list of priorities. With a place confirmed at Stanford University and her heart set on summer program, Insomnia Con, Dimple is ready to make her mark as a coder and meet her idol, Jenny Lindt. A marriage proposal, or even just love, isn’t on her radar. To be fair to Rishi, who’s focus is on the practicality of a union rather than the romantic side of things, love, it would seem, is not on his either. In fact, it’s the last thing both of them would expect.
If you were looking for the definition of ‘perfect contemporary’, ‘When Dimple Met Rishi’ might just be it. Sandhya Menon’s debut has the balance of cute and funny, with the addition of vibrant, wonderful characters. There was so much to love about this book, not least its value in being an #OwnVoices novel that depicts the warmth of what it is to be apart of an Indian family and all its traditions. It gives a real insight into arranged marriages and offers an indication into how our western cultures warp those aspects of other people’s lives we cannot bring ourselves to understand, perceiving them as oppressive when in reality arranged marriage can bring about real, genuine and strong unions just as our own, perhaps more organic meetings have the potential for. This, bolstered and challenged by the split narrative of Dimple and Rishi was incredibly engaging.
I loved Dimple. She very much tended to my feminist fire, rebuking old fashioned notions that, as a woman, her priorities should be finding an IIH (Ideal Indian Husband), getting married and pushing out lots of grandchildren for her doting mother. Instead, she’s about to embark on her time as a STEM student (courses of which you’ll find a generally lower ratio of women to men), she’s a kickass coder and has grand plans to build an app that’ll win Insomnia Con, meet her idol, and probably dramatically change people’s lives and their health in the process. If nothing else, Dimple is ambitious and smart and I’m here for that in a main character. Not only is she showing WOC they can be badass (something I can only begin to appreciate as a white woman), but she’s also proving to girls around the world, no matter what limitations stand in their way, they can be The Certified Best and make their dreams and goals a reality. My only wish was that we could have seen more of the creation process of the app and her passion and intellect shine through that little bit more. For such a strongly empowered character, I was a little disappointed to have the romance overshadow that aspect of her story.
But, let’s talk about the love interest, because, Rishi, my man, you are a little bit lovely. When I started reading, I assumed Rishi would be the gushy, hopeless romantic type to counteract Dimple’s complete disinterest. So to have him be traditional, but also completely and utterly practical, almost clinical, about pursuing Dimple and an arranged marriage was very interesting, especially because it meant we got to see not one character but two characters slowly have their hearts thawed and completely melt into each other. Seeing Dimple through Rishi’s eyes was also pretty special. Too often women are valued and paid in compliments by the way they look, but so much of the glorious orangey glow Rishi sees in Dimple is made up in how driven she is; how her eyes light up when she’s talking about coding or Jenny Lindt or the competition; how much compassion has been filled up in building something that directly assists her father, and will simultaneously impact the world. Not to mention he nourishes her other interests, namely in literature, by buying her books (actual #goals), and sharing his own fountain of knowledge when it comes to comic books and his artwork.
The depiction of such a healthy and authentic relationship (though, yes, the ending was almost too perfect, but I totally digged it), was refreshing and comforting. I loved how they almost bettered one another and were able to really understand each other and flourish one another’s minds in terms of their different hobbies and likes. Their foundations were so strong, and I think more often we should aspire to find that in another person, platonic or romantic, where we can be ourselves and talk about things and have our own interests become shared. And having that fear about getting into a relationship before you’ve done you and got you figured out was so completely relatable, and I’m pleased that Dimple realised she could most definitely do both. For what was a very neat, rom-com-ending, it most certainly doesn’t take away from what Menon achieved with Dimple and Rishi and their relationship, which is that it’s scary and that you can’t stop yourself when you’re suddenly all in, like you didn’t even get a choice; that there will be reservations and sometimes those will be hard to move past; that you’ll change, but maybe in some ways for the better.
‘When Dimple Met Rishi’ is the perfect contemporary that gives you all the squirmy, melty, butterfly-inducing feels, and you most certainly need it in your lives now.
Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton via NetGalley for this review copy!*
‘When Dimple Met Rishi’ is out now!