These two books are in the same genre of lovely YA summer reads as the Love books by Jenna Evans Welch. Both When Dimple Met Rishi and From Twinkle with Love are written by a new author, Sandha Menon, who weaves her own Indian culture and traditions through these delightful young adult stories. I read When Dimple met Rishi in the Spring to fulfill a 2018 reading challenge and I have been looking forward since then to reading From Twinkle with Love. I was elated to find it nestled inside my June OwlCrate.
When Dimple Met Rishi is an arranged marriage meet cute. Dimple and Rishi have both grown up in traditional Indian homes with the idea of arranged marriage as the norm. Rishi is a hopeless romantic ready to marry the woman his parents choose for him because he wants to believe in something larger than himself and his own desires. Dimple cannot get away from her parents quickly enough and their antiquated notions of “the perfect Indian husband.” When both Dimple and Rishi meet at the same summer program – through some machinations of their parents – Rishi is elated to finally begin his grown up life with Dimple. Dimple is furious to find this guy interrupting the program of her dreams. But, when opposites attract and clash both Dimple and Rishi will learn and grow with each other.
From Twinkle with Love is the story of Twinkle Mehra, a high school student, aspiring filmmaker and shy-girl. Recently, Twinkle’s best friend has found a new group of popular girls leaving Twinkle alone. All she has to keep her company is her unrequited long term crush on Neil Roy. But, when she is asked by Neil’s twin bother Sahil to film a movie for the school’s festival she sees this as a dual opportunity – get closer to Neil and flex her filming skills. While filming, Twinkle’s life becomes astronomically more complicated. Anonymous love notes, feelings for Sahil, fights with her best friends – all of these things are too much for the former wallflower.
On the surface Sandhya Menon’s stories feature strong young women and romance. But bolstering the simplistic sweetness of these stories are elements of culture, family struggles, life as a young adult and the struggle to live your dream. Ms. Menon expertly introduces Indian language and culture through the story without pandering or over simplifying the elements. I appreciated that the Indian family in Dimple’s story was vastly different than Twinkle’s even though they had many of the same root beliefs. These are not boilerplate Indian people or two dimensional characters but fully fleshed out and real individuals with stories of their own. Even arranged marriage is presented in a positive way and as an option for Dimple.
I will admit, I was initially thrown by the main character’s names – Dimple and Twinkle. In fact, there were parts of both books where I didn’t like Dimple and Twinkle at all. But, as a woman, I am quite confident that there were moments in my young adulthood where no one liked me. In the end, Ms. Menon has created characters that felt real to me and lifelike characters occasionally do things that are unlikeable because they are growing and changing. I think my largest problem with both books was the romance.
Which brings me to my argument: these books aren’t really romances. Instead, I argue that these are stories of two people falling a little more in love with themselves, their future, their families and their culture. Assuredly, there was some kissing but I wouldn’t recommend this book if you are looking for heart thumping romance alone. Still, in the end, it was these non-romantic elements that resonated with me and made me fall in love with these books.
Tell me, please!
Have you read these books? What were your thoughts?