Book Reviews

When Dimple Met Rishi – Sandhya Menon (Book Review)

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Title : When Dimple Met Rishi

Author : Sandhya Menon

Standalone

Genre : YA Contemorary


Summary

Goodreads summary :

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.


Non-Spoilery Thoughts

I have to admit – I started this book with my defences up. I was reading this book with critical eyes, pouncing on anything that might not be portrayed in the best way possible. There’s a reason for that. There are very, very, very few YA contemporary novels which portray Indian characters (that too in the protagonist roles) and even when they do, they’re marked with stereotypes and misrepresentation. In fact, the Indian representation in the book is the only reason I picked it up in the first place. I don’t care about the hype it has gained, I was much more interested in whether the author does justice to the representation. To which, I have to say – that yes, this book had some problems (according to me). That in no way means that you cannot enjoy the book or love it, but I’m free to express my opinion on my blog, in my own way. So, here it goes.

The Ranty Section (of the review)

massively disliked how the author represented Indian culture. It was just so wrong. I don’t know whether the author has actually lived in India ever, and if she has, which time period is she referring to? Has she really lived in India in the past few decades? And then written such things in the book? Like, writing the review and looking at my notes is boiling my blood again because what the actual fuck.

Dimple Shah is basically someone who’s very career-oriented and academically inclined. She doesn’t enjoy make-up or dressing up and doesn’t give her looks or guys that much importance. Which is cool. What I absolutely hated was how the author made it seem as if every other Indian girl is just busy with make-up and looks and dressing up and as if Dimple is some fucking snowflake and ‘different’ from everyone else. Well, no.

‘Looking nice, making an effort…these are the things girls value in our culture.’

Well, you’re wrong Dimple Shah. Maybe you can come to India and actually look at things instead of stereotyping?? Girls here (and btw, if you’re new to my blog, I’m an Indian and have lived here for all my 18 years of life) are equally interested in academics, success, careers, education to boys. There are tons of college at the top level which are exclusively for women, and the competition to get into those is equally high as co-ed colleges.

The idea portrayed in the book that Indian girls can only be concerned with marriage is just PURE BULLSHIT. What the actual fuck? When was the last time the author visited India? Yes, things were different once upon a time when girls attaining higher education was uncommon, but things have fucking changed. I have tons of female friends who do not want to marry before developing their own career, building their own lives and then finding someone to share your life. I have a cousin who’s above thirty and doesn’t want to marry now because she wants to stand on her own two feet and build her own career.

‘ “All those rules. You can’t date people who aren’t Indian. You can’t date, period, until you’re thirty.” She gave him a look and said, “Unless, of course, your parents are trying to set you up with a marriage partner. Girls can’t be interested in a career more than they’re interested in marriage. Wear makeup. Grow your hair out.” ‘

Are you bullshitting me? Are you ACTUALLY fucking serious?? Indians can definitely date, though after an age it is much more acceptable than if they start dating really young. Girls can definitely be more interested in a career. ALSO, loathed how Dimple made it seem as if being interested in marriage is wrong or bad. I’m eighteen years old, and have big goals about my education and career, but at the same time, I do want to eventually get married! Those both can exist simultaneously.

‘To become that dutiful Indian daughter they always wanted.’

Dimple made it seem as if to become a dutiful Indian daughter, you have to give up on your dreams and get married, which is so not true. In my home, and in the homes of all of my female friends, ‘dutiful’ is defined more academically and in terms of what you do with your life, instead of marriage. Yes, marriage is also important, but definitely, no one thinks about it at eighteen. I’m not saying that marrying at eighteen is bad, I’m merely correcting the book’s portrayal of all Indian girls being concerned with marriage at eighteen. Well hello, we have much bigger plans for ourselves.

‘It was like some bizarre version of a geocaching club; the minute somebody’s daughter turned eighteen, all the aunties began to scheme the shortest route from her parents’ home to the ultimate prize – her sasural’ [sasural = in laws]

I wanted to laugh when I read this line because it really seems like the author hasn’t come to India in a long time. Even in villages and small towns, things are changing and honestly, if you said a line like this in any of the cities of India, people would actually laugh at you.

 

The author has written Dimple as a ‘snowflake’ who’s different from all Indian girls by being interested in her career and not wanting to be married, which is misrepresentation and inaccurate portrayal. I’m exactly Dimple’s age and I could not relate with her at all because the problems she is apparently facing are inexistant. Dimple’s family is apparently from Mumbai (and I live in Mumbai) at at eighteen, every single person is only concerned with one thing : getting into a good college. I’m currently stuck in this too – my 12th board exams are over and my results are more than what I was expecting, and I’m still worried about whether I’ll get into the top colleges, such high is the competition level (in both girls and boys).

To be completely honest, had this book portrayed Dimple to be older (say, twenty eight years old maybe) the book would’ve been much closer to an accurate representation.


The Non-Ranty Section

The story was fine, but predictable as fuck. You know how the book will end from the minute you pick it up. It’s a fluffy story, perfect as a beach read, especially if you do not feel it’s problems on a personal level (like I did).

I hated Dimple, and Rishi was kinda meh. The author tried to portray Dimple as ‘different’ from all other girls, but she’s not. She’s super rude with Rishi in the beginning, she keeps lamenting about her parents, she’s apparently ‘spirited’ and ‘bold’ but cannot stand up to bullies, and overall I did not like her. Rishi was a fine character, but definitely not a memorable one.

I liked how the book showed Rishi fulfilling his dreams and working for them. That was fucking amazing, and something which youth today needs. He is initially a bit cowardly, and ready to let go of his true passion because he cannot stand up to his father. However, Dimple gives him the courage to fight for his dreams and live them.

It was an extremely readable book, and the writing was addictive. You can easily finish this in a very short time, it’s that readable.

Overall, no I did not like this book. It hit me on personal levels and I was mightily offended by things. However, you might thoroughly enjoy the story, so I do recommend this as a cute summer read.


My Rating

2/5 stars

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