This book has been getting so much hype recently, so naturally I wanted to give it a shot. I’m always excited to jump into a new contemporary, especially one like this that has a different cultural representation than the traditional Western novel. I got so excited when I first heard about this book, and even now that I’ve read it I’m still just as excited to tell you all about it!
Obviously, one of my favourite aspects of this novel was the representation of Indian culture. I’ve been reading a lot of books with Indian and Bengali protagonists lately, so it was nice to see that culture represented in the YA genre for a change.
Going into it, I did have a fear that the Indian protagonists would be ostracised from the rest of their American context to allow for this cultural diversity. But thankfully, that really wasn’t an issue – both Dimple and Rishi were average American teenagers who had their own quirks and their own warbles really lending to a beautiful tale of acceptance.
Speaking of acceptance, if you read my review for We Come Apart, you’ll know how I feel about the representation of arranged marriage in literature. To summarise, I think it’s really important to show both sides of any tradition, and not to judge it solely through our Western lens. I think Sandhya really achieved a good balance as she represented characters who were both for and against the union without having the narration lean one way or the other – it was very respectful.
I won’t spend too long on this next point because I feel like it almost goes without saying, but this was a wonderful example of a YA feminist novel. Dimple was the type of feminist I can really get behind – she was grateful and driven, vulnerable and resilient, all in equal measure. She’s the type of feminist I love to see in literature (she’s much easier to appreciate than the likes of the sociopathic Amy Dunn in Gone Girl).
I think the bit that made this book for me was the innocence of Dimple and Rishi’s relationship. There was something very tender about their romance, something very chaste that I really appreciated. It wasn’t instantaneous (a trap that too many YA romances fall into) and it built up into a relationship that you really wanted to succeed, rather than just one you expected to go well because it’s in a book. I’ve really been enjoying stories like this lately, especially when it comes to the impressionable YA genre, it just makes me all warm and gooey inside!
If I had one complaint about this novel, it would have to be about the treatment of Dimple’s mother. I really hoped that we’d get to see a lovely, tender moment near the end of the novel where Dimple’s mother shows how proud she was of Dimple and all she wanted to achieve, even something cliched like ‘I just want you to be happy’ would have satisfied me! Unfortunately, this scene will just have to remain in my head for now, but I do think the sentiment was in the novel somewhere, even if the evidence wasn’t.
Overall, I gave this 4/5 stars (more like a 4.5 if I’m being accurate) – it’s been a pretty good reading month, hasn’t it? I loved this story so much and can’t wait for the companion novel to come out – I nearly died when I heard it was going to be a thing!
Please let me know what you guys thought about this novel down in the comments below, I love hearing from you all!