Friday, June 23, 2017

Indian-American Romance

When Dimple Met Rishi, Sandhya Menon
This book starts with a bang -- I was hooked and grinning.  The second half slumps in on itself.  It made me wonder if I'd imagined the first half being so crackin'.
  • I like the way the narrative switches between Dimple and Rishi's perspectives.  I felt giddy spending time with each protag in turn and said aloud to Haki, "This is so fun."
  • The handwritten script headers indicating who you're with are a nice touch.  A lot of layout things are nice -- the sans serif page numbers and chapter headings are too.  The cover image is a great pull, it's a shame it's not a match for what's described in-book. 
  • My initial impressions of the tone; fun and confident.  It took me back to Night of Cake and Puppets for a while there, and I'm not sure I could pay a bigger compliment.  As the pages passed, it felt less polished.  I understand comparisons to Rainbow Rowell and John Green, but the second half wasn't as snappy or funny as either of those...but yeah, there's some similarities.
  • The Indian culture is lathered on so thick in the first chapters it feels forced -- only because Dimple makes such a point of saying she is an American who has Indian heritage.  I love that this book features Indian culture, I just didn't find each Indian inclusion natural (in some places it was like I could see where a simile had been hijacked and re-written with an Indian slant).  It isn't awful, but it drew attention to itself in places, instead of effortlessly interweaving in things that are Indian.  This was diluted after the exposition.
  • There isn't heavy swearing, but there's a fair amount of blasphemy.  
  • There's some typing of rich and management characters, who although they prove true to assumed natures, are assigned negative traits on sight.
  • The stage set for this relationship to play out upon was one of my hooks!  Sadly, Insomnia Con wasn't this all-night work-fest for high achievers so much as a fun and casual camp.  Not only because more time was spent dating and kissing than pulling creative all-nighters, but because the comp itself featured a Talent Show that had zero correlation to app design or coding.  I felt robbed of the geeking out. 
  • I was interested in both of the mains, but I struggled with Dimple doing jerkish things.  Even if we can set Dimple's hitting aside (yup, she hits Rishi, and he says it hurts), she changes her mind more than I could forgive.  I get it, those teen years are all about uncertainty, but once these two started making out, OF COURSE feelings are on the line.  Dimple's interest in detaching herself and pretending there isn't an emotional investment in the bank (or that her withdrawal is reasonable) is inconsistent with her level-headedness and any rationale generally, especially...
  • ...because they have sex.  Although sex isn't described, the characters do have sex.  And Dimple knew what it meant to Rishi, what message it would send, and she still wanted to tap out of the relationship after.  I found that jerky.  Yes, I know not all people who sleep together remain together, but Rishi was not all people and Dimple knew that.  Plus Indian culture and tradition has a significant presence in this story, and the casual sex seems at odds.  I did appreciate references to a condom and consent -- but what about emotional responsibility?  Dimple's infatuation-distance-infatuation-love-distance became painful. 
Thankfully the ending pulls things together in a way I can live with, but I was left half-satisfied, since I'd been fizzing with enthusiasm for these characters, but as I kept reading I grew disappointed in them and their choices.  If this narrative carried on with characters who were incredibly attracted to each other and worked hard through the night on creating an awesome design, making out in bursts, and staying by each other -- finding love and creativity can survive in the same space -- I would've been so much happier. 

Review copy received from Hachette.

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