Hey everyone! Welcome to my stop on the ‘When Dimple Met Rishi’ blog tour.
First of all, I need to say the BIGGEST thank you to Rosie Stephen from Hodder & Stoughton. Since this novel was announced it’s been one of my most anticipated releases of the year. The cover, the premise… I just knew it was going to become one of my favourite books. I’m over the moon to be involved in such an exciting tour.
As well as reviewing ‘When Dimple Met Rishi’, I’m going to talk about the rise of #ownvoices literature. I’m going to be recommending some of my favourite titles written by Own Voices authors, and shining a spotlight on some that I haven’t read just yet!
‘When Dimple Met Rishi’ review:
“Arranged marriages are more about practicalities than romance. Compatibility, a long-term partnership. That sort of thing.”
‘Dimple couldn’t stop smiling. It was like two invisible puppeteers, standing stage left and right, were yanking on strings to lift up the corners of her mouth.
Okay, or maybe something less creepy. The point was, the urge to grin felt irresistible.’
‘The girl was scowling. Literally scowling.’
I love the contrast between their first paragraphs.
When we meet Dimple, she’s delighted with the news that she’s been accepted by Stanford. Meanwhile, Rishi is looking at the photo of Dimple that his parents have given him. Dimple hates having her photo taken, so it’s not the best first impression…
Dimple is desperate to go to Insomnia Con. Running for six weeks, participants have to come as close as possible to coding a ground-breaking app of their design. The winner of Insomnia Con gets the chance to work with Jenny Lindt: a previous winner, and one of the most inspirational women in tech. A once in a lifetime opportunity, the only obstacle is that it’s expensive. Dimple doesn’t think there’s the slightest possibility of persuading her parents to pay. When they agree, she can hardly believe it. It’s a dream come true. She knows her idea is strong enough to win, she just needs to get there and work hard, no distractions.
Rishi is also attending Insomnia Con. His parents have paid for him to go, thinking it’ll be the perfect opportunity for him to get to know Dimple.
Yep, their parents have arranged for them to meet, and though Rishi knows everything, Dimple is completely in the dark.
When Rishi sees Dimple, he heads straight over to introduce himself. He’s nervous, and introduces himself by calling her his “future wife”. Dimple does the only thing she can think of. She throws her iced coffee in his face and runs away.
Their relationship is off to a rough start, to say the least. Dimple is furious with her parents: she thought they were finally respecting her wishes and backing off:
“Seriously? That’s what you think I should be relegating my brain space to? Looking nice? Like, if I don’t make the effort to look beautiful my entire existence is nullified? Nothing else matters – not my intellect, not my personality or my accomplishments; my hopes and dreams mean nothing if I’m not wearing eyeliner?”
while Rishi is distraught to have disappointed his parents. His little brother, Ashish, does whatever the hell he wants, so it’s up to Rishi to fulfill all of their parent’s wishes.
But Rishi and Dimple are partnered up for the duration of Insomnia Con. It looks like it’s going to be a long summer… Until their working relationship begins to develop into something more.
This is the best young adult contemporary I’ve ever read. It’s flawless! There isn’t a single negative thing that I can say about it.
Both Dimple and Rishi are brilliant characters. Dimple has a strong personality. She’s unafraid of her own opinions
“I didn’t come to America,” Dimple interrupted, darting a defiant glance at all the shoppers. “I was born here. This is my home. This is my culture.”
and she’s living her life for herself, not for her parents. It’s a direct contrast to Rishi. He’s afraid of pursuing his dream of working in the comic industry because his father doesn’t think it’s a stable career choice.
They’re both intelligent – just look at the fact that they’ve been accepted into both Stanford and MIT respectively! Because they’re about to embark on their college experience this is upper-YA verging on NA, which I related to even more: I’m preparing to go to university soon, too.
It’s proof that love can sneak up on you no matter how smart you are. Rishi thinks he has no chance with Dimple, but he’s instantly besotted with her. Dimple can appreciate the fact that Rishi is a gentleman, but doesn’t predict how quickly he’ll sweep her off her feet. Their relationship moves quickly, but that makes sense: they’re spending all day every day together, so it’s not surprising!
As soon as I finished ‘When Dimple Met Rishi’ I described it as “absolute perfection. This book is hot chocolate on a snow day, wearing fluffy socks on freezing feet and snuggling with your loved one all at the same time”. I’ve been open about the fact that I’ve been going through a tough time recently, and this was exactly what I needed. From the moment they met (which makes the cover SO MUCH BETTER! I was cackling with laughter at that point) I was rooting for them. The ending is supremely predictable and cheesy, but that’s the best thing about romcoms: you always know what you’re going to get. It’s impossible to be disappointed with this book.
‘When Dimple Met Rishi’ is an accomplished debut. Debunking many of the myths surrounding arranged marriages, Sandhya Menon educates people who don’t know anything about the Indian way of life and represents those who live it. If you’re a fan of contemporary romances and happily ever afters, you NEED to get hold of this book as quickly as you can. Also read if you’re just in need of a hug: it makes you feel so warm and fuzzy inside.
The rise of #ownvoices:
Corinne Duyvis started the Own Voices hashtag back in September 2015 to recommend diverse characters written by authors in the same group. Ethnic minority characters written by authors who shared their heritage, LGBT+ characters written by LGBT+ authors, disabled characters written by disabled authors… A huge celebration of difference.
That celebration is rapidly gaining attention. Look at the fact that the publication date of ‘When Dimple Met Rishi’ was pulled forward. Then consider the runaway success of ‘The Hate U Give’: the Black Lives Matter-inspired debut by Angie Thomas.
I’m a fan of Own Voices authors because I find their characters are more genuine. Nine times out of ten, you can tell if a female character is written by a male author. It won’t be completely realistic. They might not worry about spots or talk about their periods as much as the majority of teenage girls do (or, at least, all of the ones I know!).
The same can be said for anything that an author hasn’t personally experienced or thoroughly researched. You know what I mean: overly stereotypical representations. The “magical negro” trope, which tells us that black people can only help the white protagonist on their journey and aren’t allowed to have a story for themselves. “Kill your gays”, promoting the bullshit “fact” that LGBT+ characters can never have a happy ending like straight couples can.
Or, in the case of ‘When Dimple Met Rishi’, arranged marriages always being represented as unhappy. Sometimes, that’s the case. Sometimes, it’s not! As Dimple and Rishi prove, parents meddling can be the best thing. They want their children to be happy: why shouldn’t they strive to make that happen?
Authors shouldn’t be forced to “come out” to gain respect for their work. As long as an author is treating a topic with care, that’s good enough for me. But it’s important to promote authors of different backgrounds and allow them to tell their own stories, not just watch others tell their stories for them.
Five great #ownvoices books I’ve read:
‘The State of Grace’ by Rachael Lucas:
Grace has Asperger’s, as does author Rachael Lucas. Throughout ‘The State of Grace’ we explore Grace’s mind. As we discover how differently she sees things, we also learn to have more respect for the people around us. You never know what is going on in someone’s head, so it’s important not to judge anyone for not acting the same as everybody else.
Read my review here.
‘Something in Between’ by Melissa de la Cruz:
Jasmine de los Santos has her life ripped apart when she discovers that her family are living in America illegally. Her parents decided to stay in the USA when their temporary work visas ran out, but now they’ve been discovered and are in the process of being deported.
Melissa de la Cruz is also an immigrant, and shares in an author note at the end of the book that she went through the same thing. It’s an unsurprising discovery, because the raw emotion throughout the novel is palpable.
Check out my review here.
‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ by Jenny Han:
The Song sisters are half-Korean, half-Caucasian, the same as Jenny Han. Because she has personal experience of Korean culture, there are a lot of subtle references throughout the novel which bring the Song family to life.
I haven’t read the second or third novels in the trilogy (yet!), but I can imagine this theme continues throughout.
Read my review here.
‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story’ by Ned Vizzini:
Whenever I talk about Own Voices authors, I have to talk about Ned Vizzini. ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story’ is the story of Craig Gilner, who attempts suicide after the pressure of school becomes too much. He’s committed to a mental hospital, where he fights to overcome his anxiety.
Ned Vizzini himself had spent time in psychiatric hospitals due to suffering with depression. Sadly, he committed suicide in December 2013. His book still helps people, though, showing that the brightest lights can shine in the darkest times.
‘Far From You’ by Tess Sharpe:
My personal favourite of the Own Voices novels I’ve read so far. Sophie, the protagonist, is bisexual, as is author Tess Sharpe.
This was the first time I felt as though I’d seen my sexuality represented on the page. Whereas bisexuals are often stereotyped as overly sexual or greedy, Tess explains the nuances of bisexuality brilliantly.
Check out my full review here.
#ownvoices books I can’t wait to read:
Hundreds of Own Voices books excite me, but I’ve narrowed it down to twenty. If I was going to talk about every single book that excited me, we’d be here for years.
Disclaimer: Because I haven’t read any of these, I have no idea how realistic the representation is. We can find out how good they are together.
Own voices are everywhere. Every week, more and more diverse titles are emerging. Old stories are being told in new ways, and more people are feeling represented. If you don’t think that’s wonderful, I don’t know what’s wrong with you! I’m so happy to be living in a time when people can tell their own stories. I can’t wait to see where the Own Voices movement goes, because it’s been doing wonderful things so far.
Once again, a huge thanks to Hodder and Stoughton for inviting me on this tour. I hope you enjoyed my post, and I hope you’ll check out some of the Own Voices novels that I’ve recommended. You definitely must check out ‘When Dimple Met Rishi’: you’ll regret it if you don’t, because you’ll be missing out on your new favourite book!
If you have any Own Voices recommendations, leave them in the comments. I’m always excited to discover new titles.