Quarantine Book Recommendation: Dimple and Rishi by Sandhya Menon

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It’s been two months since the home order has been issued for most states and countries as a preemptive measure against this pandemic.  It’s important more than ever to support our local communities and be kind to one another. I personally want to advocate for authors and local bookstores who are one of the many communities that are negatively impacted by the coronavirus. 

I know the struggles of unable to focus and enjoy things, in case you need a gentle reminder: be kind to yourself. One of the things that has helped me is reading, I’ve been mostly churning romance and fantasy books. Today, I am recommending the Dimpleverse series by Sandhya Menon.

When Dimple Met Rishi 

Publisher: Simon Pulse
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The story follows Dimple, an unapologetic eighteen-year-old who’s being set up for an arranged marriage by her parents to Rishi, a traditional boy next door. 

Rishi knows about the arrangement and is willing to pursue it, Dimple, on the other hand, doesn’t. That’s one of the conflicts of the story aside from the classic romance trope which is “opposites attract.”

I love the pureness of the romance between Dimple and Rishi and how it challenges and embraces South Asian culture. A wholesome debut from Menon. 

From Twinkle, with Love

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The story follows aspiring filmmaker Twinkle, who has been approached by another film geek Sahil to collaborate for Sumer Festival.  Finally, Twinkle will get the chance to showcase her talent as a director. This project will also optimize her proximity to Neil, her long-term crush; also Sahil’s brother.

Suddenly, a secret admirer called “N” started emailing Twinkle. Could it be Neil? As she, gets to spend more time with Sahil; her feelings started to get muddled.

Told from Twinkle’s letters to her favorite female filmmakers. This is the first book that I read in a while with a unique approach in storytelling; and it worked for this story. This book made me delirious with butterflies in my stomach. Although, this book is not entirely related to the first book, Dimplet Met Rishi; it’s still a great standalone with a cute romance and self-discovery conclusion.

There’s Something About Sweetie

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Ashish Patel is single again, he accepted his parents’ smug offer to find him a nice Indian-American girl. Here comes, Sweetie Nair who happened to be THAT girl.  Although, her parents oppose the idea of her dating. Readers will see a fun dating in secrecy and drama.

This book needs to come with a content warning:  Sweetie’s mother’s fatphobia and internalized fatphobia from the main character. I’m a skinny Southeast Asian reader so I cannot vouch for the representation.

I have to say the pairing is *chef kisses* neatly done. I’m selective with my romance but Menon did a wonderful job at crafting Ashish’s and Sweetie’s respective arc. I like that both of them have their own supportive friends and family. It’s equally endearing to see the main male character have a healthy friendship outside the relationship. I don’t think I’ve seen that enough particularly with early YAs.

Be prepared for a dramatic as hell ala Bollywood conclusion. I’m not complaining since it’s a happy ending.  I love the heartfelt self-realization from Sweetie and the beautiful romance.

“The recurring theme in Menon’s books is the unapologetic approach in crafting her female protagonists.”

After reading three books written by Menon, I noticed the recurring theme in her writing is the unapologetic approach in crafting her female protagonists. Dimple is academically smart, feisty, and firm while Twinkle is a film-geek wallflower. Sweetie, on the other hand, is a fun formidable athlete. Their stories is more than just standing up for yourself in front of the people that deny your existence. It’s also about saying no to your parents, and challenging the path they want you to take; it’s creating parameters and boundaries between your friends and holding yourself accountable for your mistakes. This seems like the standard preset for YA heroines but please know that the genre’s default is still overwhelmingly white. It’s refreshing for YA readers, particularly those who are now in their 20’s, who’s coming-of-age selection only extend to Sarah Dessen, Meg Cabot, and other prominent white authors. Now, readers of color have books that also reflect their life.

This is why I love reading contemporary romance, it’s an affirming and comforting genre. Dimpleverse is the kind of content that I need during these trying times, I laughed and swooned. All I know is that the next installment, which will be about Samir and Pinky’s fake dating and frenemies trope,  will kill me …. with angst and happiness.