When Dimple Met Rishi is the arranged marriage romcom you didn't know you needed. If you're looking for an adorable, diverse, totally feminist book for the summer, this is the one to try.
Dimple's mother is desperate for Dimple to put on some makeup, swap her glasses for contacts and commit to finding a good husband, but Dimple doesn't want to get married. She's going to be a badass web developer, like her hero, Jenny Lindt, and no patriarchal misogynistic nonsense will get in her way. When her parents agree to let her go to a six-week coding program in San Francisco in the summer before she starts Stanford, she's amazed that they're finally taking her ambitions seriously. At least until she meets Rishi. He's kind of perfect for her, with one problem -- her parents told his parents that they were meeting in San Francisco to consider an arranged marriage, and Dimple is so not down for that.
When Dimple Met Rishi switches between Dimple and Rishi's perspectives, and Sandhya Menon gets a lot of humor out of these transitions. It's a very fun novel, in a clashing-perspectives, meet-cute-gone-wrong sort of way.
My main frustration with the novel was Rishi. He feels incredibly realistic as that guy who comes off, at 18, as so sweet and caring and nerdy and smart, and his main conflict lies in how he always puts his family and his duty to them first, even if, perhaps, it's making him unhappy. But he is absolutely that presumptious, arrogant, oh-so-nice and sensitive college guy who doesn't realize how arrogant and presumptuous he is. He's incredibly over-the-top in expressing his affection, in a way that's present as comedic and cute, but is really a little bit creepy. He's pretty superior about the way he does things and snooty about arts programs and art students, and just in general does all sorts of things that would have made me go "oh, he's so sweet and smart!" at 18 and makes me cringe now. Dimple can do better tbh. She's got her flaws too, and can be quite harsh and self-righteous, but she's driven and determined as all hell, and I kind of loved her. She's a character who's fighting circumstances and refusing to give up on her dream. He's a character who's mostly creating his own problems and then being rude and superior about his self-sacrifice.
But even though I wasn't Rishi's biggest fan, this is a cute and funny book, and super readable. I tore through it in about a day, after being stuck on a reading slump for weeks. It's so refreshing to have a cute rom-com book that's not about white people, that's deeply Indian-American, that's about a girl who's a computer geek and a guy who's artistic. The book does not shy away from its culture at all. Characters speak Hindi and switch between that and English, with enough context provided for non-Hindi speakers to figure out what's being said. And although Dimple feels she doesn't fit in with her family and their expectations, she still really loves them and her culture.
All in all, When Dimple Met Rishi is fluffy fun. It's a romcom about characters with smarts and ambition, and about things not turning out as you first expect, and it is the perfect book to take to the beach or read in the park on a sunny summer day. Highly recommended!