For anyone looking for a cute love story wrapped in lots of diversity, “When Dimple Met Rishi” by Sandhya Menon will certainly fit the bill. It is told in alternating third person points of view sharing Dimple and Rishi’s stories.
The different viewpoints are made very clear by labeling the narratives, and by telling the story in third person rather than in first person, the reader gets to understand how the two characters are feeling and what they are thinking, without having to think about the tone of the narration being different for the different people.
Rishi is a good son to parents who want a traditional Indian cultural life for him, including arranging his marriage to someone they think would be suitable. He wants to please his parents and agrees that they can do it. Dimple is a free spirit who believes passionately that she can be whatever she wants to be, and that her life should not consist of finding a husband and raising a family. She has dreams of her own and doesn’t need a guy to mess up her future.
Dimple’s mother is always bothering her about dressing in nicer, more traditional Indian attire and wearing makeup. Dimple can’t be bothered with all that. She wants to attend a six-week class on coding before she attends Stanford in the fall. Her tech hero might be there, and she wants, desperately, to win the prize that the pair with the best app gets awarded. She has a fabulous idea for an app that could change the lives of people, especially her father.
Little does Dimple know that her parents have talked with their old friends, Rishi’s parents, about arranging a marriage between them. When her parents agree to spend the money to send her, she doesn’t know it’s because they want her to meet Rishi.
Rishi thinks the arranged marriage is a done deal. So when he meets Dimple, it’s typical comic humor when the misunderstanding becomes obvious. The story is funny, touching, and extremely well-written. It’s about diversity, prejudice, bullying, and cultural identity, and it would be a great choice for YA readers aged 14 and older. It’s a romance, but it’s also quite a bit more.
A minor quibble is the cover. It would appear that those who designed the cover didn’t read the story. In the story, Dimple wears lots of gray and makes a point of not using makeup. The bejeweled girl with hennaed hands and a nose ring wearing a bright orange top on the cover does not match the wonderful, free spirit who is the main character.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, Simon Pulse, for review purposes.