Erica’s Pick of the Week: When Dimple Met Rishi

I know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes it can’t be helped. Sometimes you see a book, and its cover says, “I am the perfect summer romance! Read me when you need something long on breezy charm, short on doom and gloom, with a healthy dose of swoony-ness.”

Too often, the pages inside fall short.

But every once in a while, the cover makes a promise, and the story delivers. Perfectly. Such is the case with the utterly delightful WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI, a new young adult novel by Sandhya Menon. Behold the cover of cuteness:


Iced coffee! Adorable, funny Indian girl who looks like a real teenager instead of a supermodel! A title that hearkens back to the golden age of romantic comedies!

Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel meet at Insomnia Con, a competitive computer programming camp in San Francisco, the summer before they head off to college. Despite a disastrous first meeting…

dimple back cover

They quickly become friends, and possibly more. However, their mutual attraction is complicated by the fact that Dimple and Rishi’s parents are hoping to arrange a marriage between them. Rishi, who feels a deep connection to his family’s Indian heritage, is excited by the prospect. Dimple, who is obsessed with becoming a software developer, is frustrated by her mother’s latest attempt to land her the “Ideal Indian Husband.”

Despite their very different views of arranged marriage and parental meddling, Dimple and Rishi hit it off, and their burgeoning relationship unfolds around San Francisco. The funky, vibrant setting captures the vibe of the novel, but keeps the focus on the couple’s chemistry, as well as the personal challenges each faces.

Neither Dimple nor Rishi are perfect – she’s prickly and single-minded, he’s awkward and lack confidence – but both of them are charming, funny, complex people, the kind you’d enjoy spending a day (or a few hundred pages) with. Menon does a great job of portraying contemporary Indian American teens, skillfully weaving in cultural references and Hindi dialogue along with fresh, gorgeous writing, madcap humor, and an abundance of heart.

Whether you’re a fan of YA romance, family stories, or Bollywood, WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI is a gem of a story, so swing by and check it out. (Iced latte not included.)

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