I’ve decided to take part in Diversity Bingo 2017, so to cut a long story short, I’ve started reading books way more carefully and dissecting everything for sensitivity issues.
I read this book for the “Indian MC (Own Voices)” square. Trust me, pick something else if you’re doing the challenge – this book has about a million problems. I’d list them now, but I think I’m going to just dissect every problem one by one. Ready?
So let’s start with our main problem: Dimple.
Dimple Shah is the most annoying, rude, and violent character I’ve ever seen in a book. Also, when I say violent, I mean violent when there’s no cause for it.
Let’s take this whole issue of her punching Rishi. I’ve lost track of the amount of times I came across the phrase “[Dimple] punched him in the ribs.”
*cue Kindle search in book*
Result: 5. And that’s not counting the parts where she considered punching him. Rishi had asked her to stop, but of course dear Dimple didn’t. So it got to the point where yes, I think we’ll say that Rishi was abused by Dimple.
And we mustn’t forget that iced coffee incident! When Rishi comes up to Dimple on the Stanford campus (she doesn’t know him) and says “Hello, future wife! I can’t wait to spend the rest of our lives together!” Dimple throws her cup of iced coffee at him.
Okay, I’ll be a little more lenient, because admittedly if some strange boy came up to me on the street and said that, I’d probably be wondering what mental ward he escaped from. And I’m not trying to be funny – that’s a truth. I mean, picture yourself in Dimple’s situation!
But that doesn’t mean it’s okay for Dimple to have done that. First off, she wasted a perfectly good beverage. Next, coming back to putting-yourself-in-Dimple’s-shoes, it would have been far easier for Dimple to just walk/run away (depending on terror levels).
Also, if Dimple had wanted to report Rishi to the campus security, they wouldn’t have been looking to kindly in her favour because of the iced-coffee thing. So that situation was an all-round no.
Then, when Dimple met Rishi again;
“…before she’d even fully thought about it, Dimple had reached out and sliced him with the edge of the map.”
Second to be added to the Problems With Dimple essay is Dimple’s rudeness and disrespect. I’ll list a two clear examples:
(1) Even when Dimple has discovered the whole arranged-marriage-with-Rishi situation, she was extremely rude to Rishi.
Snapping at him, making generally rude remarks, ignoring him, etc. Okay, he may not be her number one choice for a friend, but she could at least be civil, and use her manners so as not to degrade herself!
(2) Dimple has absolutely no respect for her parents once she discovers that they’ve set her up with Rishi. I kid you not, this is an actual quote from the book:
“You mom sounds like she really cares for you.” When Dimple snorted, Rishi hurried to continue. “I mean, she’s calling you. She’s talking to you. She’s trying to be a part of your life.”
Dimple laughed. “Trying to be a part of my life? You know, the same could be said about head lice. Or termites. Or botulism. Those bacteria are trying to be a part of our lives!”
So Dimple has blatantly compared her mother with head lice.
I don’t know what was going on in Rishi’s head at the time, because the next line is
Rishi smiled and set his pencil down. “Okay, are you ready to see?”
If anything, what Dimple said really did it for me. To compare YOUR OWN MOTHER with HEAD LICE, no matter how angry you are, is quite simply, disgusting. I’m astonished that Sandhya Menon’s editor even considered leaving that part in the book, never mind getting it published.
I’m also very disappointed with Dimple, in the fact that she completely abandoned her ambitions for Insomnia Con after meeting Rishi. Well, not completely. But it became simply a backstory, and not the foundation of the book. I was very disappointed, as it had been nice to see a girl with academic ambitions.
The romance was just… ugh. After that first kiss, it was smooching on every single damn page.
And Dimple had clearly lost track of her priorities – to think that at the start I thought she was an admirable, riven character! All her ambitions for Insomnia Con went out the window once she met Rishi. So all in all, I strongly disliked the plot.
Because after all, romance is another word for plot when it comes to this book. And if I may be honest, I do not feel a need to discuss Rishi. He’s a very two-dimensional character, and I find all that needs to be said about him was said.
Something I’d also like to address, that hasn’t really been touched on, is the issues around the words like “crazy” “psychotic” “deranged” and “insane” – Dimple uses these words freely to describe her parents and Rishi after discovering the situation.
“He was dressed pretty sanely for a psychotic attacker…”
“My parents are so deranged.”
“You’re driving me insane.”
“At the wedding? Or at Starbucks, when you randomly accosted me?”
“At first I thought you were just some destructive, crazy boy…”
It’s plain ableist. And it’s not only me who’s noticed this – check out Chelsea’s review to read more about the issues.
Also, we have this quote
About fifteen minutes later, Rishi pulled over. “This is it, Bernal Heights.” Across the street, an old homeless man was yelling at thin air in a flat Boston accent. Rishi wondered what his story was, how someone from Boston ended up there, a fifty-something-year-old street person. His story would probably make an interesting comic.
For some people, you may not see this as an issue, but to me, it’s the way that this homeless man has been portrayed that is horrible. The man is nothing more than a street curiosity – Rishi does not seem to feel any empathy or compassion for the old man. Instead he thinks that “his story would probably make an interesting comic!”
That is, quite simply, degrading to the man. End of.
Believe it or not, I was actually presented with this quote:
She looked so effortlessly “movie star” that Dimple wanted to hate her.
I mean, why? Why on earth would you WANT to hate someone?
I could probably fill another two or three pages with a rant, but I’ll settle for this: in today’s world, women and girls need to bring each other up, not tear each other down. So please, Sandhya Menon, never write a sentence like that again.
Back to girl hate in this book, though.
Dimple meets only two girls during her time at Insomnia Con – Celia, who is her roommate, and Isabelle, who is part of the high-school-clique-type group.
Celia – gah. She’s actually bisexual, which is mentioned in literally half a sentence, and then we hear no more. In the end, she ends of with a boy anyway, so Menon might as well have not wasted her time. I wish her sexuality could have been explored more, but it appears that Menon is a queen of Attempting To Explore Diverse Topics And Failing.
Isabelle is the typical “mean girl.” Must I say more? Either way, I would not call this book empowering for women.
Sandhya Menon attempts to have Dimple give good opinions and arguments about misogyny. I’m sorry, but this is Case #2 of Attempting To Explore Diverse Topics And Failing. I won’t waste my time saying any more.
When Dimple Met Rishi could have been absolutely brilliant. I loved the Indian cultural aspect of it, but otherwise this book was full of side insults and offences.
Please note that I am not hating on this book, I am simply trying to point out the problematic aspects of it. If you liked it, good for you, but I cannot rest until I know people can be made aware of the issues in this book.