When Dimple Met Rishi
by Sandhya Menon
read in July 2017
I really wanted and expected to love When Dimple Met Rishi. I’m so sorry I didn’t. I’m disappointed this book didn’t make me feel giddy, didn’t make me laugh more than once or twice…
I liked reading about their culture, but if it had been about the competition a tad bit more, I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more. But unfortunately, the romance was the main focus and at the end of the day, allocishet romances are not my cup of tea. I absolutely want to give them a chance when they’re diverse, but when the romance takes up 90 percent of the novel, it’s difficult for me to enjoy such a book. Dimple and Rishi attend a summer program in which they have to create an app, but we don’t find out any of the other groups’ ideas! If you enjoy romances, I’d suggest picking this book up, but don’t do it because the competition appeals to you, because you will end up feeling disappointed.
However, that wasn’t my main issue with this novel. I try to pay attention to ableist language, but in When Dimple Met Rishi, it would’ve been impossible not to notice anyway. I’ve only seen one reviewer mention the ableism in their review and I’m very disappointed. Because there are so, so many examples of ableist languages throughout the entire novel. Here are only a couple of examples:
– “He was dressed pretty sanely for a psychotic attacker” [when Dimple thinks Rishi is a stalker]
– “My parents are so deranged.”
– “You’re driving me insane”.
– “She’s depressed because…” Depression is a mental illness. It’s not the same as being sad! Smoothing things over with your boyfriend after a fight wouldn’t cure your depression, sweetie.
There is so much more where that came from. I wish I owned this as an e-book so I could search how often cr*zy was used. Therefore, I’m wary to pick up any of Menon’s future novels.
Sometimes, this book tried to tackle misogyny coming from men, but unfortunately, there was an unnecessary amount of animosity between the female characters. Besides Dimple, there are only two other girls at the summer program, who couldn’t be more different from Dimple and there’s a ton of drama surrounding them. Dimple had only met Isabelle and she already thought things like “a girl like Isabelle”, of course in a negative way. Throughout the entire novel, they never attempt to get to know each other better. Celia is looking fabulous and Dimple thinks “I wish I could hate her”. WHY? Why can’t female characters support each other?! Why do I have to read about such pettiness?!
At a certain point, Celia says she had a girlfriend last summer, but it was nothing serious. At first I was very excited to read about a bisexual or pansexual female character, but it might as well been a typo, because it’s never brought up again. Furthermore, if Celia is indeed queer, I don’t like how her sexuality is portrayed. She cheats on her partner and her relationship with a girl was “nothing serious”, implying that bisexuality is a phase. Unfortunately, I’m very familiar with reading such portrayals of bisexuality, and I wish non-bi authors would stop including my sexual orientation if they’re only going to rely on stereotypes.
The way Dimple discussed money really hurts me. She acts as if she’s poor, but her parents paid $1.000 for a camp just so she could meet her future husband. My mom doesn’t even have $1.000. Because she compares herself to Rishi who is rich, she thinks of money quite often. Reading that hurts, because it’s not even an issue for her!
Finally, I’m going to discuss the romance. Like I said, allocishet romances are not my cup of tea. However, that’s just my opinion, so I think there are plenty of people who will enjoy this novel. Having said that, there are some things about the romance I didn’t love.
First of all, I don’t think it’s romantic to push your partners boundaries. I understood the idea; Dimple and Rishi wanted each other to pursue their dreams, but I don’t like how they’re making the other person do things they specifically said they didn’t want to do. For instance, there’s a scene at a party where Dimple pressures Rishi into eating a brownie. He really didn’t want to because he was afraid it might contain drugs, but he did it because of her.
Secondly, I really don’t like how sex is portrayed in Young Adult. Penetration is always the first step for allocishet couples in YA and of course, it’s always perfect and painless. Which is, as far as I know, completely unrealistic. The first time doesn’t necessarily have to hurt, but the girl has to be prepared, if you know what I mean. But no, in YA, they just go right in there, because no other forms of sex exist.
Obviously, I had my issues with this novel. Having said that: y’all are so obvious. Why are the most liked reviews on Goodreads the most negative ones, which of course don’t even touch upon the ableism in this book? I know: racism. People just love hating on diverse books just because they’re diverse. I really hope people don’t interpret my review as “trolling”, because I absolutely expected to love this novel and do have some issues with.
Because I hadn’t expected the allocishet romance to be such a prominent part of the story, I didn’t enjoy When Dimple Met Rishi as much as I had expected. On top of that, I have some serious concerns, such as the ableist language. If you enjoy reading romances, I would recommend this novel, but please be aware of the ableism, portrayal of bisexuality, etc.
I wanted to include reviews from Indians or Indian-Americans who talked about the representation in this novel, but I couldn’t find any people who clearly stated in their reviews they’re Indians or Indian-Americans right away, but I haven’t heard any complaints when it comes to that portrayal. Besides, this novel is #OwnVoices.