Well, that was adorably sweet. YA that falls into New Adult Romance isn’t normally my thing, the characters are just so young (but I don’t mind them in movie format? To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was very enjoyable on Netflix but I still don’t care to pick up the book). I know most authors land their endings on HFN for just that reason, but while I’ve enjoyed books like Anna and the French Kiss I generally tend to stay away. But the description of When Dimple Met Rishi (and its adorable coffee-based cover art) pulled me in.
Dimple Shah has a plan: now that graduation is behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from her Mamma’s obsession with finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Dimple has her heart set on attending a summer program for aspiring web developers in San Francisco and convinces her parents to let her go and pay the fee, relieved that they seem to be more fully buying into her plans for her life starting with Stanford in the fall. Rishi Patel is headed to the same program, so when his parents tell him that his future wife will be there and he’ll have the chance to woo her, he is completely on board. So much so that his hopeless romantic heart nearly ruins everything at his and Dimple’s meet cute. You see, Dimple has no idea who he is or that their parents have set them up.
The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but they seized an opportunity when they saw it. Rishi wants to be arranged, and knows that many people don’t understand his choice, and Dimple is one of them – running hard from what she feels are the heavy expectations of her family that don’t align with her goals for herself. But this is a romance book, so initial confusion and distrust turn to grudging friendship and then something much more all while they are competing hard to get Dimple’s app idea off the ground and in front of her idol by winning the contest.
I loved how this book dealt head on with its issues – classism, race relations, religion, familial expectation, social customs, women in STEM fields, and the dichotomy between pursuing your dreams or what you perceive to be the safe choice – while also being a very straightforward story about love and finding yourself at 18 once you are able to be on your own for the first time. Menon shows through her solid craft that it is possible to seamlessly do both. Her characters actually talk to each other (and not just her leads!) and get to know each other, and care deeply for who they discover themselves and the other to truly be. Dimple and Rishi have problems and lives that feel real. The world and life that Menon creates for her characters is rich, detailed, and engrossing. You are with them at school, and in love, and in heartbreak. I was sad to see my time with them end.