ARC Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

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When Dimple Met Rishi

Pub. date: May 30th, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: E-galley
ISBN: 9781481478687 
Source: Author

Thanks so much to Simon Pulse and Sandhya Menon for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Summary: 18-year old Dimple Shah is more than ready to start university, to catch a break from her mother talking ad nauseum about the importance of finding an “Ideal Indian Husband.” So it’s almost a miracle that her parents are letting her attend a summer program for web developers. Rishi Patel is your Bollywood romantic, and eager as all hell to find his future wife, preferably set up by his parents. The Shahs and the Patels want to use this summer program that their kids are attending to nudge them towards each other, and Rishi is more than happy to be on board with this arrangement. The only problem- Dimple has no idea that all this is happening. So what happens when the two eventually meet? 

So, in case it wasn’t clear, this book is a Bollywood romcom in a nutshell. I am not kidding. I grew up watching this story. Several movies of this story. This book is the YA version- but sex positive, not misogynistic, no gaslighting, and none of that patriarchal bullshit. I will be totally honest- I know how important this story was going to be for desi kids outside of the subcontinent- they never get to see themselves or their culture represented positively, front and center. But I was also worried- the synopsis screamed Bollywood to me, and Bollywood is a buttload of misogynist garbage fire even on its good days. That apprehension was the reason it took me so long to actually pick up the book (a book I was so excited about that Sandhya was kind enough to send to me). I read it in one setting. Long story short, it’s fucking amazing. It’s funny, heartfelt, wonderful characters, and I SHIP THEM. I SHIP THESE DORKS. Dishi, Rimple, whatever the fuck the kids are gonna name them. I’m rooting for these kids to have a good time. 

Now that’s out of the way, let’s start with how desi this book is. Ultimate desi. The mum who is constantly haranguing Dimple to dress like a girl, and put on that damn kajal (I spent the first 17 years of my life not touching kajal on regular days and then college happened and I realized what a lifesaver it actually is to make me look less hungover), the dad who is the voice of reason when Dimple and her mum get into it, all the fussing in the name of love that can be suffocating but you miss when you’re away from home for a bit, the nosy aunty who simultaneously made me go “ARGH AUNTY WHY” and “Holy shit yes good lord these aunties that’s exactly how they are!”, and the desi family dynamics. They rang true and were hilarious and heartwarming all at the same time.  

And then there’s Rishi. Rishi (who will be a young Rishi Kapoor in my head, fight me) is a diehard, Bollywood romantic. He’s 17 and ready to find his life partner. He arrives at SFSU with every intention of getting to know Dimple so that they can fall in love and get married and live happily ever after and endgame. This is a boy who is sure of himself, who s grounded in his identity and his culture, and has no qualms about it. None of these traits are lost through the story, at the same time it was wonderful to watch his character grow and his ideas about his life be moulded based on the events in the story. He instantly falls for Dimple, and she challenges him every step of the way. All of the swoons. 

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Can we also talk about how adorable the book jacket is? Actually, we don’t have to talk about it because it’s downright adorable. Just look at it.  

Another thing I really appreciated about the book- while the romance is the main plotline, that characters aren’t presented only in that one dimension. Dimple isn’t just all ambition and competitiveness, she’s a person with multiple facets, thoughts, ideas, values, notions. Rishi isn’t just a die-hard romantic- he has passions, aspirations, and let’s be honest, they’re both so dorky in their own ways it is only natural they find a safe space in each other’s company. The book takes the time and several different scenes to explore these two as individuals and together- it’s the mark of a very very good writer. 

Here’s a place where the book scores again- sex positivity! Some teens may engage in sexual behavior (if they so choose)- surprise, surprise. Also, spoiler alert, but some brown teens may engage in sexual behavior (there seems to be this assumption that sex is a big no no for desi kids because strict parents or whatever, and again, if they so choose). So, extra points to Menon for including conversations about sex, consent-seeking, and sex positivity!

Needless to say, I’m thrilled this book exists. I’m thrilled desi teens will get to read it, to see themselves on the page, to laugh out loud at the melodramatic and occasionally clichéd desi romance moments (including a very Bollywood climax) that they will appreciate and nod at because familiarity. If you enjoy contemporary romcoms, I highly recommend you pick this one up, it’s a goddamn delight.

P. S. I read this in April so I can’t count it, but this book qualifies for #AsianLitBingo, if you’re looking for a title for the South Asian MC/Contemporary Asian MC/ Romance with POC squares. 

May 2016 Wrap-Up

Hello booknerds!

I know this wrap-up post is a whole week late, but hey, life got in the way, shit happens, I’m trying not to get bogged down by it all. May was WILD. So many bookish and non-bookish things happening. But first, let’s get down to the business of bookish data:

Print books: 8 books, 1944 pages

Audiobooks: 7 books, 2558 pages, approx. 77.6 hours

Graphic novels/Comics: 5, 599 pages

 

Total number of books/comics: 20

Total page count: 5101

Read My Own Damn Books: 15 

Smash Your Stack: I hit my goal of 15 books (barely)

Read The Books You Buy: May was a terrible month in terms of keeping track of things, so I don’t really have a tally of the number of books I bought. Suffice to say, BookCon happened and I did buy at least 3 there, and then a few more when I went to Read Harder book meet-up, so yeaaaah.

Not too shabby considering I barely read anything in the last week and has so many social things happening all through May. My life is by no means any less chaotic, but getting that conference and then the work event out of the way are definitely two major stressors out of the way. I am still recovering from the past week and slowly tackling each portion of my life. I meant to spend some time on Sunday writing but I was so tired that all I did was read and nap. I will get those reviews and tags rolling out in a bit. 

Until then, happy reading everybody!

-J

 

Social Justice Book Club: Just Mercy

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Five weeks. That’s how long I’ve been reading this book. This is definitely the most powerful book I’ve read in 2016 so far, and I doubt anything else is going to come along in the next 7 months to topple that. 

Continue reading “Social Justice Book Club: Just Mercy”

#BOTNBingo: Because I needed one more reading challenge

Well, yeah, I have a problem. Since discovering the bookternet, I’m all about the reading challenges. I’m pretty sure serious Readathon withdrawal (Andi, Rachel, ya hear me?) is the reason I jumped on this bandwagon as soon as I saw Shaina talk about it on twitter:

Yes, reaction GIFs are my favorite method of communication. 

So I’ve jumped on the bandwagon, and just in time. The #BOTNSBookBingo, organized by the lovely folks at Books On The Nightstand. It goes from Memorial Day Weekend (May 28th, 2016) all the way up to Labor Day (September 1st, 2016). Basically, a summer of reading glory, all mapped out for you! If you haven’t yet, go build yourself a card: http://tinyurl.com/BOTNSBingo2016

Note: The website is set up to generate a new card each time you refresh the page, so make sure you save/print yours as soon as it has been generated!

Here’s mine:

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This is a pretty good mix of things I usually enjoy reading, and things I’d never considered, like nature writing or a fiction set during a plague. Couple of categories, like a book about art or an artist, or a ghost story, are not types of books I gravitate towards (I read everything, so this statement is probably more anecdotal than empirical), so it’s a good mix. My goal is to truck along with #readmyowndamnbooks with this one, but I suspect with the unusual categories I might have to reach out to the library for support.

I’ve talked before about how I thought my rate of success is pretty low with longer reading challenges, but I have a feeling that having specific tasks will help me focus better. All I need to do now is organize what I want to read and that should prevent the slump from setting in. 24 specific books in the span of 3 months seems totally doable. 

If anyone out there is participating, let me know in the comments and we can compare cards!

-J

 

Teaser Tuesday: May 24, 2016

Hello!

It’s Teaser Tuesday!

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This fun bookish meme is hosted by MizB at Books And A Beat. The rules are pretty simple: Grab your current read, open a random page, and pick two teaser, non-spoilery sentences to share from that page.

Here’s mine for this week:

“Fear of a bully, fear of a volcano; the power within you does not distinguish. It does not recognize degree.”

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What’s everyone else reading?

-J

#DiverseBookBloggers: Read All The Things

DIVERSE BOOK BLOGGERS

Hey all,

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or you follow the most default cis/het/white/able-bodied dude bloggers/twitter peeps, you definitely saw or heard about the #DiverseBookBloggers movement. Started by Naz and Demelza, the hashtag has gained a lot of ground in the short span of time (as it should, because talking about diverse books is awesome). Some eloquently-written pieces have since started floating around the interwebz, so I thought instead of adding my two cents to it (which would be reiterating everything all these amazing people are already saying), I would create a space to collect all these articles and posts and give it a separate home on my blog:

Continue reading “#DiverseBookBloggers: Read All The Things”

May 23, 2016: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack. 

Ooh boy, this past weekend was glorious. All I did was stay home, read, not wear a bra, read, wine and dine, read, and bookternet like the introvert that I am (apologies for the play-by-play on Snapchat, y’all). It was GLORIOUS. Like I’d mentioned earlier, I’ve had so many social things happening in the last couple of weeks that I was desperate for some quiet, stay-at-home time, to read in peace. 

Continue reading “May 23, 2016: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?”