What I Learned from “When Dimple Met Rishi”

What I Learned from “When Dimple Met Rishi”

I’ve been reading more young-adult contemporary lately and the more I read the more I drool over this literary category. Maybe because it takes me back to my teen years and ignites those feelings of uncertainty but longing expectation of the first love. Maybe I’ve just been reading some really good writing because with every YA contemporary I read; I find myself fangirling out over the author. Similar to how I reacted after reading “Elanor & Park”, I find myself wanting to learn any and everything about Sandhya Menon, author of “When Dimple Met Rishi.”
If you’re a big reader of YA contemporary you’ve probably heard of this book and maybe even read it already. For me, this novel was introduced via a Booktuber book club I’m a part of on GoodReads. It was the June pick for the club and based on my pre-reading “research” the text had a lot of hype around it. I try to avoid hype like the plague but when I saw the cover my interest peeked. Then, when I read the short blurb informing me the two main characters were Indian youth who were first-generation Americans, I knew I had to read it.
I’m a total advocate for more minorities in media (I have a few essays I should probably look into getting published), especially as the main characters. Additionally, I love cross-cultural reading and my college study abroad experience was in India, so, you could say I have a soft spot.
Like any reader, you go in with a few expectations based on the blurb. I knew there was going to be a little romance, some teen angst and the like. What I didn’t expect is to find myself laughing out loud in public as I devoured the novel like it was last Snickers Bar on earth. I didn’t expect to become so invested in the characters either but the fact that I did is a nod to the author’s ability to write characters readers actually care about. However, what was most unexpected was the lesson I learned after reading this novel…

“When Dimple Met Rishi” is not for me nor is it for “us”, meaning people who are outside of the Indian community. Now, when I say “not for me” I don’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the novel or that all the praise I gave above is false. What I mean is I feel like the story was written for all to enjoy with a special laser focus on American teenagers who are of Indian descent. The same way Beyonce’s “Formation” was written for black women but can be appreciated by all people; “When Dimple Met Rishi” was written for Indian teens but can be enjoyed by all.
As a black woman, this realization was both odd and interesting to me. So often in America race is talked about in terms of black and white.
Dominance and oppression are talked about in terms of black and white. And even though I’m a traveled person, have had friends of varying backgrounds, have stood in alliance with friends who are part of other marginalized communities, this book made opened my eyes even wider. In a way, it was a little humbling actually.
“When Dimple Met Rishi” isn’t for me and that’s okay! I still loved the novel, still followed Sandhya Menon on all her social media (I promise I’m not a stalker) and I still want to buy some WDMR merchandise. Because in the end, the biggest win here is that a minority story is being told by an author who is a part of that minority and she’s introducing groups of people to a culture they may have never encountered. In the process of doing this, she’s also humanizing people of color, particularly brown people, to readers who may not fit that description.
All I can say is I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *