When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon


When Dimple met Rishi is adorable and funny and utterly delightful. It was just what I needed during a stressful day.

Here’s the plot setup: Dimple is eighteen and about to go to Stanford. She resents her Indian-born mother’s attempts to mold her into a traditional woman. Dimple’s plans revolve around school and career, with no interest in marrying and having children. Above all else, she resents any suggestion that she would go to college to get a husband. Since Dimple’s parents are very protective, Dimple is surprised but thrilled when her parents readily agree to let her spend part of the summer at Insomnia Con, a summer program on web development held in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, Rishi, who is also eighteen, tells himself and everyone else that he is happy to be a model oldest son to his parents, who are also from India. Rishi used to love drawing comics, but he has set that aside, applied to MIT, and plans to have a career in computer sciences. Rishi trusts his parents to arrange a marriage for him.

As a matter of fact, Rishi’s mom and dad are acquainted with Dimple’s mom and dad. They think Rishi and Dimple might be a great match, so they send Rishi to Insomnia Con to meet Dimple. However, Rishi’s parents don’t mention to him that Dimple’s parents haven’t told her anything about Rishi or the possibility of an arrangement. Dimple’s parents don’t tell her anything about Rishi either. When a total stranger walks up to Dimple at a coffee shop at Insomnia Con and says, “Hello, future wife!” it doesn’t go well.

Happily, the big misunderstanding is cleared up almost immediately so Dimple and Rishi can get on with becoming friends who absolutely do not date because Dimple is not looking for a relationship. Of course, it immediately becomes obvious to one and all that Dimple and Rishi are fabulous as a couple. They respect each other (eventually), they balance each other’s hang-ups as the best couples do, they are both very smart and very funny, and they have fantastic chemistry.

All of this makes for extremely fun and swoony reading. This book is set up as an opposites attract book, with Dimple determined to chase her dreams and Rishi resigned to fulfilling the dreams of others. However, they have more similarities than differences. Their only real conflict lies in Dimple’s fear of romance distracting her from her career and her independence.

The degree of swoony can be seen in the “not date” when Rishi takes Dimple to Two Sisters Bar and Books (a real place that recently closed, alas). Rishi and Dimple first met at a wedding when they were kids, and at that time Dimple was reading A Wrinkle in Time. So, at their table Rishi has a present waiting for Dimple – a special edition copy of A Wrinkle in Time from the year they met.

In turn, Dimple takes Rishi to a place where they have an amazing view of the San Francisco Bay Area. She tells Rishi that she’d like to make their “not date” a date, but wonders if he feels like there’s a point to dating since she’s not sure she’ll ever want to get married. Rishi says that tradition is important to him, but:

The point of dating you, Dimple Shah, is to get to know you. To spend time with you. To see the way you push your glasses up on your nose when you’re especially moved by whatever you’re saying. To smell your amazing shampoo. To feel your heart beating against mine. To see you smile. To kiss you. So maybe all that other stuff that’s important to me can take a backseat for now. And maybe I’m totally fine with that…if you are?

Pardon me while I pass out for a while.

There are only a couple of nitpicks standing between this book and an A. One is that Rishi and Dimple seem to have a lot of free time for two people in an incredibly complex and difficult competition with high stakes. Another is that the conflicts are so nicely resolved about two-thirds of the way through the book that the ensuing complications feel contrived. Granted, they are the kinds of contrivances that two eighteen-year-olds would generate. The better things go with Rishi, the more nervous Dimple gets, until she’s second-guessed herself into a state of complete panic. It does make sense for her character, but it also means a smart and admirable heroine suddenly seems obtuse and inconsistent, purely so that the story can keep going for another hundred pages.

Generally, however, this is a lovely book. It is sweet and funny and heartwarming. The parents and Rishi’s brother get some chances to shine and Dimple’s roommate is a good, if confused, friend. Both Dimple and Rishi have solid character development. Dimple has to learn to trust in a relationship and Rishi has to learn that his dreams have value. The ending is, appropriately, HFN instead of HEA, but it’s very satisfying. I happily recommend this book.

This book is available from:
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

May 30, 2017

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