Review Blog

Jul 25 2017

When Dimple met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

cover image

Hodder and Stoughton 2017. ISBN 9781473667402
Recommended for middle to upper high school students. Arranged marriage. Romance. Indian culture. Identity. High achieving, second generation Indian Americans, Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel have both won positions at their choice of university; Dimple to study web design at Stanford and Rishi, engineering at MIT. Behind the scenes their parents have been matchmaking so when Dimple asks if she can go to an expensive summer school on web development they unexpectedly say yes, secretly knowing that Rishi Patel will enrol, allowing them to get to know each other. Dimple is certain of what she wants and has resisted all her mother's efforts for her to use traditional Indian makeup and dress fashionably to attract the Ideal Indian Husband, IIH, so when she arrives at the summer school and a stranger approaches her and says 'Hello future wife' she is appalled. Dimple is furious with her parents for the deception and she tells Rishi she wants a career not marriage, however they are partners in a competition to create an app during the summer school and Dimple agrees to work with Rishi to develop her idea. While working together Dimple discovers Rishi's talent for cartooning and can't understand how he can put it aside to follow his father's choice of engineering rather than develop his passion. Rishi loves tradition and stability and wants to do the right thing for his family. Alternating chapters from the point of view of Dimple and Rishi highlight the funny side of their situation and their unfolding romance. Both main characters embrace their rich Indian cultural backgrounds and readers can learn a lot about the challenges and rewards of blending them with modern western aspirations in a positive way. While the main characters are well drawn the minor characters are disappointing, particularly the stereotyped rich kids and the plot features web development and app design yet we learn nothing about the process they are supposed to be spending all their time on.
Overall it is funny and romantic with a rich cultural background and about pursuing your passion. It gives an alternative view to the stories about second generation immigrants desperately struggling to overcome stifling cultural expectations like in Helen Thurloe's Promising Azra.
Sue Speck

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