YA Materials: Characters in When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

 

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When Dimple Met Rishi is, by the author’s own admission, inspired by the Bollywood romances she grew up on and on romantic comedies like You’ve Got Mail

Menon, Sandhya (2017). When Dimple Met Rishi. New York, NY: Simon Pulse.

ISBN:978-1-4814-7868-7

374 pages.

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Dimple Shah’s motivation when she goes to an app-development camp in the Bay Area is simple–to succeed with flying colors in her academic pursuits. She is initially outraged that her parents tried to set her up with Rishi Patel. Rishi, meanwhile, is a considerate, polite young man who has a secret passion for drawing comics, but has always done whatever his parents tell him. His character arc with Dimple centers around his admiration for the way she is able to love her parents while choosing to defy them. Dimple eventually is charmed by Rishi’s consideration for others and appreciates his artistic talent. Both discover they have been lonely, and find deep connection with each other.

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Dimple’s roommate Celia and Rishi’s brother Ashish are involved in the plot at different times; both characters have their own colorful struggles with romance, sex  and frienships, but their issues are easily resolved before the end of the novel. 

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Realistic conflicts between Dimple and her parents about tradition, marriage and feminism never erupt into serious rifts. Dimple’s gossipy mother is not in tune with Dimple’s career goals and is focused on her marriage prospects, but Dimple is emotionally close to both parents, and their ignorance of her does not cause her significant pain. Dimple’s father’s diabetes is in turn a motivating factor in the creation of Dimple’s app, which reminds users to take medication.

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A central issue at the summer coding camp is the nepotism of the mega-rich. Middle-class Dimple is harassed at camp by a group she calls the “AberZombies.” Rich teens’ rudeness and racism are the target of socially aware, on-the-mark satirical jabs throughout the book. However, Dimple’s hyper-wealthy love interest, Rishi, is self-aware and has none of the negative qualities of other rich kids.

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The socially-condoned, age-appropriate fling between a girl and boy from the middle and upper class and the same Hindu caste doesn’t break many barriers, though the lack of anxiety about social repercussions may make for refreshing reading.

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