When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

511bUaa-oBL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4.5/5)

Plot: This book follows two protagonists, Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel. Dimple is the science minded daughter to two traditional Indian parents; she and her mother clash on everything, from Dimple’s appearance (she doesn’t wear makeup and keeps her hair short) to her desire to go to college for a career, not to find a husband. Rishi is the quintessential first-born son to Indian parents: he follows the rules, he does as his parents ask of him and what is good and right, even if it means giving up on his hopes and dreams. Their paths collide when Dimple’s parents miraculously allow her to go to a summer coding convention where high school graduates try to create a working app in six weeks before going to college. Unbeknownst to her, Rishi is also there, under the impression that both of them are aware this was a marriage setup by their parents. Rishi is confused and surprised when Dimple has no idea what he’s talking about when he tells her they’re to be married, and Dimple has the natural reaction to toss her coffee on him. When the two of them are paired up to work on the coding project together, it’s a battle of the wills and a clashing of old traditions and new as these two sharp young minds try to find their places in the world.

Review: I was so excited to read this book, I ate it up like delicious chocolate. My best friend of 10 years is also Indian and her parents moved to America when she was young, and her story reminded me of Dimple so much (not to mention they have the same last name). Or maybe it was Dimple who reminded me of my friend? Either way, they both want normal, American lives, and while they love their parents and respect traditions, they also want to be their own person. (I’ll stop talking about my friend now BTW.) Dimple was a delight to read, because she was focused on her goal to become a coder and her desire for it never wavered even in the face of diversity (her parents). Rishi was a little harder for me to connect with personally, but I thoroughly enjoyed his view of the world, and how much he cared for his parents and respected them. It’s so rare that a YA book involves parents, much less those who support and care for their children, so that was really great to read!

I learned so much about Indian tradition and day-to-day life by reading this. It was truly a learning experience for me, and one that was completely and utterly adorable to read. There is something truly special about an #ownvoices book, because the culture and multiple languages isn’t forced or just used as a stereotype: it comes from life experience, which makes it so much more engaging and education for someone outside.

As for the story itself, the pacing was a tad bit choppy and some of the cliches were very, very cliche, but all in all it was a tightly wound spool of thread that worked great for a light, contemporary read. I was hoping for a little more focus on the actual con/coding/intellectual part of the book (mostly because Dimple was also looking forward to doing that part and was determined not to get distracted from her goal of winning) but it got swept under the rug by the romance after the first quarter of the book. That’s why my rating was a little lower than 5 stars. I really did enjoy this for so many reasons though! The couple(s) talked things through instead of just accepting miscommunication and creating stupid fighting (my least favorite trope ever!) and the side characters were all fully fleshed out. The atmosphere reminded me of freshmen year of college, which was fun and nostalgic for me to read. Rishi’s storyline, the one separate from his entanglement with Dimple, was super interesting to me and I was happy that he was there for more than just a love interest role.

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

51mithvpyvl-_sx326_bo1204203200_NOTE: I’ve decided to change up how I write reviews. I noticed that I was writing the sort of review that I would like to read…I only read reviews AFTER I’ve read the book, just to see what other people think. I know most people read reviews to see whether or not they like the book and then they will read it. So I’m going to add a bit more about the book and less criticism and I hope you all enjoy what I’ve changed!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5)

Plot: 

The premise of this story is about Irish immigration to America and how that was viewed and how it happened in the years following WWII. I don’t think it explicitly tells what year it takes place, but maybe ’49 or ’50 would be my guess. We’re introduced to Eilis Lacey, who is a young woman in a small town in Ireland. We learn immediately that she is intelligent and a whiz with numbers. She had ambitions to become a bookkeeper. With the nudging of her older sister, Rose, and the help of a priest in Brooklyn, Eilis gets a job and a room in a house in Brooklyn and suddenly finds herself in America. Once there, she has to deal with a new job, her house full of Irish women, and, naturally, a love interest is introduced, an Italian boy named Tony. You continue to follow Eilis through her life as she goes through a thoroughly life-changing experience due to her transition to America.

Review: 

If we’re being honest, I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since I knew it was going to be a movie! I wanted to read it before I saw the movie. I knew the gist of what it was about: “Irish girl goes to America and struggles a little” but that was about it. I was wanting to read a historical fiction novel for about a week and picked this one up. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it took a little while to get into the writing style. The sentences were often long and had many commas you had to keep track of. After a while I easily followed it, but it took a while to get into.

I enjoyed Eilis as a character, though she felt almost transparent in the book. She didn’t often make her own choices and often just let life pull her along on the jet current…I guess that seems pretty realistic due to her upbringing and the time period, but, if I’m being honest, I was thoroughly bored with this book until Tony, the love interest, was introduced. The book was very monotonous, going through very intense details about the simplest of things, day in and day out for Eilis. I should have expected it, but it still threw me off a little. The story definitely picked up once Tony was introduced. There was excitement that cut through the monotony of life and I was entertained until the last page from there.

I’m not sure if Eilis does much character growth besides becoming a bit more “American”–aka confident in herself physically and mentally and holding herself a little more responsible for her decisions. She does a lot of overthinking in the story, which I could relate to and which you don’t read about often, so that was interesting to read about.

I think that Colm Tóibín is a highly detailed writer and obviously did a lot of research about what he was writing about, but the book definitely lagged a bit for me in the first half. Part of that may have been the lack of chapters, so I never felt like I could pause and catch my breath. However, I did enjoy reading this and I truly felt like I had been transported back in time while I was reading it, especially in the second half.

It is a short book that I highly recommend reading all in one sitting, or as close to one sitting as possible.