Desert Isle Keeper
When Dimple Met Rishi
Adorable book alert! If you need something cute, funny, and romantic to read this summer that will also introduce you to a new, diverse voice in fiction, I have to wholeheartedly recommend When Dimple Met Rishi. Honestly, I have been trying to nudge everyone I know into reading it for the last week. It’s that precious.
Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel’s parents have arranged for them to be married sometime in the future, but Dimple has yet to be made aware of this. Her plans are to start a computer programming degree at Stanford in the fall, focus on her education, and not worry about being the ideal Indian daughter her parents would love her to be. Rishi’s parents have informed him of their plan, and after seeing a picture of Dimple, he’s on board. It will keep his parents happy, follow with tradition, and he gets a cute girl out of the deal. All of this is great in Rishi’s mind. Dimple and Rishi are both interested in attending a coding summer camp called Insomnia Con so it seems like the perfect time to push the two of them together for some future-spouse-bonding time, right?
Rishi sees Dimple sitting at Starbucks near the Con and decides to greet her with the super smooth opening line of “Hello future wife, I can’t wait to get started on the rest of our lives.” Yeah, so since Dimple has no clue who he is, she thinks he’s a creep and throws her iced coffee in his face.
Honestly, if that dorky meet-cute doesn’t convince you to read this, it should. Rishi is the most a-dork-able guy I’ve read in a book in recent memory. I’m telling you, he’s a mom trapped in an the body of an eighteen-year-old boy. He just wants to marry Dimple and start their life together, lecture her about the dangers of drinking, go to MIT, keep his younger brother in line, and be the responsible little nerd he is. He also has a lot of confidence, and stands up for himself and Dimple in the face of the private school kids at camp who look down on them for being different due to their Indian heritage. I loved him instantly.
Dimple is driven and more edgy, ready to break away from tradition and make a future for herself in the tech community, programming things that can help people and I liked her boldness. She isn’t afraid to tell her parents that and arranged marriage isn’t for her. She pushes Rishi to pursue his love of art and even becomes a figure for sex positivity in YA fiction by saying outright that it should be her choice whether she wants sex or not, not her parents’ or her culture’s.
When Dimple and Rishi get stuck together working on their Insomnia Con project, it gives Rishi a chance to win her over. He tries way too hard at times, with no real idea of how to play it cool with a girl, but it works in his favor, because Dimple – and the reader – gets to see how sweet, caring, and creative Rishi is. The dichotomy of their personalities,combined with the alternating points of view in the story, work really well together and lead to a laugh-out-loud narrative of two young people falling in love though mutual respect and admiration, not just lust or attraction.
The relationship between Dimple and Rishi does develop rather quickly, but I was willing to forgive a lot of that due to their age. At eighteen, feelings run so high that it’s easy to see how it would be plausible for them to find their happily ever after in space of the the book’s timespan; and in any case, I wanted them together so much that I didn’t even care.
I read YA often, but I rarely, if ever, read contemporary YA because I find the characters too immature or can’t get on board with the conflict, but I didn’t have that problem with When Dimple Met Rishi. I think having both characters be eighteen and away from home helped a lot. The book ends up reading more like a romance novel, albeit one where the characters have to undergo a lot of self-discovery and learn about navigating romance, rather than a typical teen story. I also enjoyed the interaction of dealing with the parental expectations and the cultural implications of an arranged marriage in Indian-American society.
I can’t tell you enough how perfectly cute this book is. I already want to read it again. I want to buy it as gifts for friends. I want to go give Rishi a big hug. It’s worth the cost of the eBook, although I think I’ll be adding the gorgeous hardcover to my keeper bookshelf. Track it down at your library. Do what you have to do to get your hands on it, you’ll thank me. Meanwhile, I think I need to go search out some Bollywood films on Netflix…