Review: When Dimple Met Rishi, Sandhya Menon

WHAT A DELIGHT. If you’re one of those people who laments the decline of the rom-com as a movie genre, and you remotely enjoy YA, I must insist that you read When Dimple Met Rishi. I yearn and yearn for it to be made into a teen movie. Whatever happened to teen movies? Where are the Can’t Hardly Waits of the new generation?

When Dimple Met Rishi

So the deal is that Dimple, a budding coder, gets permission from her parents to attend Insomnia Con, at which the winning app design will receive support and backing from legendary computer person Jenny Lindt. BUT THERE’S A CATCH. Unbeknownst to Dimple, her parents have set her up to meet with Rishi Patel, the son of their friends and a (hypothetically) perfect candidate to become Dimple’s husband someday. Are they paired up to be partners in app design? YOU KNOW IT, PAL.

Where to begin with things I loved about this book. Like, number one, I love a romantic comedy, and When Dimple Met Rishi is a perfect romantic comedy, from the disastrous first meeting to the wonderful side characters with their worthwhile subplots to the mushy, swoony declarations of love at the end. I truly do miss the era of fun, sweet, soft-hearted rom-com films, and When Dimple Met Rishi filled that hole in my heart.

Number two, I adore and cherish Dimple for her strengths — her brilliance, her drive and ambition, her love for her parents even when they’re driving her batty — as well as for her weaknesses. She acts quickly and on instinct in ways that can make her a little mean and dismissive, which resonated with me as a somewhat mean and dismissive person. I loved her for always coming back to her mistakes and trying to find ways to make them right, and I loved that she let herself see Rishi for who he was, rather than just what he stood for (the Ideal Indian Husband).

Number three and oh so much of this, I love that Menon let Rishi do emotions. This is a boy who wants to grow up to be a father and husband, and it is vanishingly rare to encounter such a boy in fiction (even though I have encountered several of them in real life). He’s gentle but not weak, and he stands up for Dimple from the first moment they meet, and it’s the damn best.

Is there Bollywood dancing? Yes there is Bollywood dancing. Are there rude rich kids who get put in their place? Abso-damn-lutely. When Dimple Met Rishi. Do yourself a favor and read it ASAP.

Thanks to Janani, among others, for raving about this book so hard that I had to read it. ETA: Aarti is my review twin today! Check out her review also!

Review: When the Moon Was Ours, Anna-Marie McLemore

When the Moon Was Ours is as good an argument as you’ll possibly ever see for the value of #ownvoices in publishing. I say that because I can’t stand magic realism and I’m not that excited about straight-up romance in YA, and When the Moon Was Ours — a magic realism romance — nevertheless still made me feel so happy and grateful for its existence. It’s the story of a Latina girl called Miel and a Pakistani-American trans boy called Sam and their struggles to come to terms with their identities and their feelings about each other and the mystical forces at work in their town.

When the Moon Was Ours

Just absolutely everything about Miel and Sam’s relationship made me happy. I love it that McLemore lets them have sex YOU KNOW AS TEENS DO SOMETIMES and they aren’t punished for it. I love it that even though they are clearly devoted to each other throughout the book, they also mess things up with each other and have to apologize and figure things out with each other afterward. I love that they’re desperately attracted to each other (yay for depicting passion in queer relationships!) and sometimes that’s good and easy, and sometimes it makes already-complicated issues more complicated.

The truth slid over her skin, that if she loved him, sometimes it would mean doing nothing. It would mean being still. It would mean saying nothing, but standing close enough so he would know she was there, that she was staying.

And I love that they get a happy ending. Queer kids deserve happy endings.

What else, let’s see. Oh, I loved it that the antagonists of the book, four nearly identical white sisters who have ruled the town all their lives and are trying to keep that situation going, are still clearly the protagonists of their own stories. I got anxious around the midpoint that the Bonner girls were being set up as Bad Femininity to contrast against Miel’s Good Femininity, which is a trope I could not be more tired of, but the climax of the book reclaims enough interiority for all the Bonners to satisfy my greedy heart.

It’s interesting — When the Moon Was Ours is not, as I’ve said, my type of book. I prefer a book that bothers less about lush prose and more about thrilling adventures and robot pals perhaps; less magic realism and more straight-ahead magic with really specific rules and nefarious power struggles perhaps. But I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to have a book like this in my hands and know that it’s available to teenagers, to let them know a little bit more about the possibilities the world offers.