The Book of My Dreams: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

The Book of My Dreams: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya MenonWhen Dimple Met Rishi
by Sandhya Menon
Release Date: May 30th 2017
Published by Simon Pulse
Genres: Contemporary, Humor, Romance, YA
Format: ARC, Hardcover
Pages: 380
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Source: ARC received for review purposes

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

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.

ARC received for review purposes in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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I have been raving about When Dimple Met Rishi since I read it in January. I have so much love for this book and the characters. I know it’s going to be one of those stories that I will re-read every year for how much joy that it brought me. I know a lot of readers have been describing When Dimple Met Rishi as a cute read, but to me it’s so much more than that. Not that there’s anything wrong with cute reads, but it’s a book that’s also brimming with culture, identity and themes of chasing your dreams and growing up.

I honestly could write a whole book about all the things I loved about When Dimple Met Rishi, but I’m going to control myself, because I want you all to experience it for yourself too. First things first, the characters. Never have I identified with characters so much as much as I did to Dimple and Rishi. They are both so different, but I saw bits and pieces of myself in the two of them. Dimple is smart (she’s a coder!), driven and absolutely passionate. She’s goal driven and works hard to achieve her dreams. I think lots of teens will see themselves in Dimple’s determination, fierceness and genuineness. She’s not perfect, obviously, which I loved by the way, and she has moments where she will have you wanting to shake her by the shoulders, but she is also a teenager. One of the best parts about Dimple’s character were her inner thoughts about struggling to really fit in anywhere as a daughter of South Asian immigrants. So many of her feelings rang true to me, as I’m also the daughter of South Asian immigrants. Despite her doubts though, Dimple is proud of her heritage, and absolutely loves her family even though they could be overbearing with their traditions at times.

Rishi, on the other hand, was much more traditional than Dimple was, totally willing to go with his parents’ plan for an arranged marriage for him. He was much more entrenched in his culture than Dimple was, but I liked that Menon showed that there wasn’t a right way to exhibit your culture through Rishi and Dimple’s contrasting approaches to their backgrounds. Just because you don’t follow certain traditions, does not make you any less part of that culture. Anways, back to Rishi. I loved this boy with every fiber of my being! He was soft, a gentleman, and very respectful of others. He is the nice boy that more YA readers need to be exposed to. His story arc features his inner battles with his parents desires for his future, and his passion for drawing comics. With a bit of a push from Dimple, he goes through a journey throughout When Dimple Met Rishi and finally learns to acknowledge what his true aspirations are.

Then there was the toe-curling romance was super shippy and made me want to jump in happiness. I love romances like Dimple’s and Rishi’s that buds from a slow-growing friendship. The two of them become comfortable around each other before falling in love. It was just the sweetest thing watching them go to through that process. When Dimple Met Rishi was also sex-positive. I 100% appreciated the conversation that Dimple and Rishi about what the expectations of their culture was when it came to sex and what they wanted. We need to have more YA books that have the couples discussing sex before they do the deed – it’s important and can be enlightening to teen readers. When Dimple Met Rishi also played homage to Bollywood movies, Indian culture, and family. As you may have already guessed from the synopsis, the book is about arranged marriage, and I appreciated that Sandhya Menon showed it in a positive light. I think there’s this misconception that arranged marriages are toxic, and while that’s undeniably true in many cases, many couples have found love that way in many South Asian cultures.

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you to give When Dimple Met Rishi a try. I didn’t know just how much I was waiting for a book with a brown girl on the cover, and about brown kids falling in love in YA until I read it. I cried when I held the book in my hands because diversity is important, people and I’m a freaking 23 year old woman. Just imagine how thrilled brown teenage girls will see themselves being represented! Sandhya Menon’s debut is rainbows, and sunshine and unicorns and all things good! I can’t wait for whatever she releases next – it’s taking everything in me not to attempt to hack into her computer to steal her next book!

What are some of your favorite books that explore cultural identities?
Let me know in the comments below!

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