Photo credit: Foter.com
This is what happens when I go roaming unsupervised through the YA section of my library.
I had heard great things about this book by Sandhya Menon from some of my bookish friends. They said it was basically a Bollywood movie in novel form and that’s about right. So obviously I immediately added it to my TBR list.
It’s every bit as adorable as my friends told me it was.
Dimple and Rishi are two kids of Indian immigrants living in Northern California. Dimple wants to be the best computer programmer there ever was. Her parents are probably middle class, but not very wealthy, so when she asks to go to an expensive coding camp the summer between high school and college, she’s astonished when they agree without question.
Rishi is an artist who loves comic books, but has chosen to pursue the more “practical” career path of engineering, like his father who runs a ComEd-type company.
Their parents haven’t exactly arranged their marriage, but they’ve agreed that their kids would be good together and they should at least meet each other.
Rishi knows about this arrangement. Dimple does not. And Rishi doesn’t know that Dimple doesn’t know.
Turns out Dimple’s parents were so willing to cough up the money for her to go to this coding camp because they had arranged with Rishi’s parents for the two kids to meet there, work on their project together, and hopefully fall in love, get married, and make lots of babies together.
So Rishi makes a “future wife joke” upon meeting Dimple, who very reasonably assumes this stranger is some sort of psycho stalker, throws her iced coffee in his face and runs away.
She’s not any happier when Rishi explains the situation to her and they both frantically phone their parents: he to explain he ruined everything with a stupid joke and she to rip her parents a new one.
Other than that, there’s really nothing they can do. They’ve been assigned as partners to work on their project together, and although Rishi offers to bow out and let Dimple partner with someone else, it turns out they can’t switch partners, so Dimple is stuck with this guy her parents set her up with who isn’t even all that interested in coding.
Of course they end up falling in madly in love, and there is the requisite hiccup where things go wrong and they have to break up before predictably getting back together right at the end. The hiccup did not come in the form I thought it would, but it still worked, and I loved that they got back together on the same spot where they met – minus the iced coffee in Rishi’s face.
I loved everything about Dimple and Rishi. Despite Dimple’s insistence on not becoming a traditional Indian woman relegated to home and hearth, she can’t deny being with Rishi is easier than being with most white kids, for the same reason all the black kids tend to sit together – she doesn’t have to explain to him what being an Indian American is like because he already knows.
Together they deal with race/casual racism, privilege, and the stupid things we (girls) tend to do when trying to “fit in,” especially when cute-but-asshole boys are involved.
But my favorite part was Dimple.
First, I loved that she was an ambitious coder. It’s a male-dominated field, and she wants to dominate it. She doesn’t want to be just any coder, she wants to be THE coder. And she’s afraid committing to a boy will compromise that. She knows marriage means compromise and she knows women are statistically more likely to sacrifice more for their relationships than men.
I loved that she had these concerns and I loved that she wasn’t some bitter man hater. She wanted love, she just wasn’t sure she wanted to pay the price. That’s a completely legit concern and one to which I can completely relate.
So read this book. It’s adorable and refreshing and exactly what we all need in these trying times.
What did you guys read this week? Any other Bollywood-inspired romances?