Ever since I was seventeen I have been interested in Indian culture. In my uni days I started watching Hindi movies and TV serials and tried to learn how to cook Indian food from scratch. While my Hindi might be patchy at best, I still enjoy anything related to Indian culture, so when I heard about When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, I knew I had to read it.
When Dimple Met Rishi is contemporary YA, set in America. Our protagonist is seventeen-year-old Dimple Shah, born in America to Indian parents and struggling to juggle their expectations with her own aspirations for her future. Dimple dreams of going to Insomnia Con, an annual summer programme run by SFSU where participants have the chance to build and pitch their own app. This year’s prize is the opportunity to share their idea with Jenny Lindt, who just happens to be Dimple’s idol.
Dimple doesn’t think her parents will allow her to go, however she is willing to try to convince them. Imagine her surprise when they not only agree but seem totally unfazed by the six week programme. Have they finally come round to Dimple’s way of thinking?
Meanwhile, Rishi Patel is a traditional son hoping to make his parents proud. Like Dimple, he was born in America, however he feels a strong connection to his Indian heritage. Rishi secretly enjoys drawing and creating his own comic book characters. Knowing his parents want him to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a computer engineer, he is trying to suppress his love of art and focus on fulfilling his parents wishes. He has asked them to find him a potential bride, and as luck would have it they are old friends of the Shahs. Rishi is happy to go to Insomnia Con to meet Dimple, thinking she has agreed to the match…
What happens when Dimple finally meets Rishi forms the heart of the book. While it is obvious that Dimple will eventually fall for Rishi, there is nothing tired about this story. I loved ever moment of it. Both Dimple and Rishi are such strong, memorable characters. It is impossible not to sympathise with both of them and their chemistry is sparkling. The romance is sweet and heart-lifting and perfectly encapsulates what it is like to be young and have your whole future ahead of you.
I cannot put into words how much fun this book was. It is a quick read, mostly because I never wanted to put it down. I was utterly caught up in the story and enjoyed every twist and turn. Anyone, no matter their race or religion, will be able to identify with the issues Rishi and Dimple are grappling with. This is, at its core, a story about learning how to make your own choices and live your life how you want to. Menon’s writing is crisp and her description of Karl, the San Fransisco fog was brilliant. Karl becomes almost a character in his own right.
If you are looking for the perfect summer read then I would recommend When Dimple Met Rishi. It is everything you could ask for from contemporary YA romance – fun, sweet and compelling. This is definitely one of my favourite books of 2017!