Depiction of Romance in Young Adult Literature

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon is one of the most anticipated books of the summer. It has been dubbed a hit by many reviewers for its use of diverse characters and humorous storytelling. The story follows Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel as they navigate their lives while balancing the impossible expectations of their parents. They both find themselves enrolled at the same summer program in the hopes that they will fall in love and eventually get married. However, Dimple seems to have conveniently been left out of the plan by her scheming parents.  

I heard of this book through Goodreads and knew immediately that I had to read it. I wanted a story that I could connect to with my own life. The parallels that I longed to see fell a little flat if I am being honest. I was disappointed by the narrative, but I also recognize that my disappointment is misplaced. Not every single Indian-American experiences the same things, but I still had my expectations. Dimple Shah and I have very different lives, but I wanted her to be like me. I desperately wanted it so much that I missed my possible connection with Rishi Patel. There was one similarity between the two of us that stood out among the many differences. We both want a practical and safe future, yet we yearn for something more. While I have strayed away from what most would call a sensible path, I can still remember the pain of denying my passion.

I may be disappointed in the story, but it is clear by the rave reviews that many loved it. My disappointment in the story stems from the fact that it wasn’t a story where I could see myself. I must admit that I also didn’t agree with the depiction of love. The idea of “the one” is incredibly idealistic as well as foolish. With teenagers, it sends the wrong idea. It sets them up for heartbreak. Young adult literature is the most guilty of this. It sends that idea that if you have not found the love of your life by eighteen, you are going to be alone. Dimple’s and Rishi’s relationship progressed much too quickly for my liking. Within days, they were in love. The concept of fate was integral to their love story. As someone who does not believe in fate, this added to my discomfort. I cannot say that I disliked the book entirely since I did devour it within one day. It is cute, and it is also an easy read.   

I think this book leaves us begging for more Indian-American narratives. While some Indian-Americans will resonate with this story, others will not. We simply do not have enough options when it comes to Indian-American centered tales. American media has a tendency to downplay Asian-Americans. They are seen as unmarketable, but I think When Dimple Met Rishi proves them wrong. It has reached number eight on the New York Times Bestseller list. This just demonstrates that these stories can be appreciated by more than the Indian-American audience.

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