When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon: Book Review

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Obtained: Simon & Schuster Canada, ARC
Pages: 380
Publish date: May 30, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

SUMMARY

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

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WHAT I LIKED

First of all, I loved the diversity in this book. I love reading about different cultures and traditions, and this book actually gave me a great insight into a culture that isn’t my own.

The story was also super adorable. It was so sickly sweet that I found myself d’awww-ing out loud. I find a lot of YA romances feel interchangeable and eventually I begin to mix them up in my head, but you just know right off the bat that When Dimple Met Rishi is going to be a rom com to remember. All of the little details in the novel – Insomnia Con, Dimple and Rishi’s separate dreams and passions in life, the Bollywood dance routine – are ones that will make this YA romance stand out against all of the other ones for me.

Dimple and Rishi were great, and I actually really loved Dimple as a strong female lead. I could imagine her perfectly in my head, and I related to her quite a bit.

AND WHAT I DIDN’T

Honestly, I felt the ending to this book was kind of rushed. There was only 100 pages left and Insomnia Con still had three weeks to go. I kind of wished all of the plots had more time to wrap up; it was literally the halfway-point of Insomnia Con and then the next paragraph was “we’re announcing the winners”.

My other issue with this book is that I didn’t particularly like the secondary characters – Celia and especially the Aberzombies – seemed very flat. The “bad guys” were so over-the-top “bad” that I just couldn’t believe them. I wish they’d had more redeeming qualities to make them more well-rounded.

RECOMMEND IF…

  • You love cheesy romantic comedies;
  • You crave some diversity in your reading;
  • You want a read that will keep you smiling the whole way through;
  • You’d like to gain perspective about social privilege.

When Dimple Met Rishi is available online at Chapters Indigo, Book Depository, and Kobo.

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Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland: Book Review

Our Chemical Hearts

Obtained: Penguin Random House Canada, ARC
Pages: 320
Publish date: October 4, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★

It’s been a while since I’ve read a YA romance novel that completely wrecked me, so when I read the synopsis for this one, I figured I’d give it a shot. Being compared to the work of John Green and Rainbow Rowell helped pique my interest, too, but I did not expect to fall so hard for this book. I have to say, this is probably my new favourite YA of all-time.

Our Chemical Hearts is told from the perspective of Henry – a boy who has never had the misfortune of having a high school crush before. That’s when Grace Town gets transferred to his school and they both get stuck editing the school paper together. Grace is a little bit stiff and grungy and wears over-sized boy’s clothes all the time, but creeping her on Facebook proves to Henry that she has a side to her he’s never seen – a feminine beauty with a gorgeous smile. Henry wonders what had made her change, and begins to fall in love with this idea of the girl in her Facebook photo.

If anyone’s read Paper Towns by John Green, this book definitely has elements of that lesson: falling in love with an idea of a person rather than who that person is. But Our Chemical Hearts is so much more. I’ve never read a book that so accurately described what it was like to love someone who didn’t feel the same way, or to feel heartbroken, or to feel so entangled with someone and hating how much you loved and depended on them to be happy, knowing you’d get hurt anyway. I’d say it was very comparable to the film (500) Days of Summer, actually. It was utterly heartbreaking and beautiful to read.

Besides the fact that this book was so incredibly written with regards to the characters’ emotions, I have to say my favourite part was just the characters in general. They were all so real and honest and diverse (yay lesbian couples!) I also loved the immense amount of nerd culture Sutherland brought into the book. At times it felt a little forced, like she was trying to make it ultra-relatable, but at the same time, it did make it ultra-relatable. Henry and his friends casually describing opposing sports team members as “the Mountain from Game of Thrones“, or mentioning their Doctor Who merchandise. I also appreciated the more random references and quotes from pop culture that were a little more subtle (“You know nothing, Henry Page” was one of my favourites; or their discussion about not reading Harry Potter – “HOW DARE YOU STAND WHERE HE STOOD”; or there was a fun 10 Things I Hate About You quote that made me squee pretty good).

I could talk about this book for another few paragraphs, but I won’t bore you. Just please, if you loved (500) Days of Summer, or you wished Paper Towns was a little more in depth philosophically, or if nothing else, you want to read a book that will make you laugh out loud at the Harry Potter references and then sob yourself to sleep (which I totally did NOT do after reading this…), I think you need to read Our Chemical Hearts.

Our Chemical Hearts is available online at Chapters Indigo, Book Depository, and Kobo.

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven: Book Review

Holding Up the Universe

Obtained: Purchased at Chapters
Pages: 400
Publish date: October 4, 2016
Rating: ★★★★

I love when bookstores do the thing when they stock the book before it’s technically released.

So last year, I fell in love with Jennifer Niven’s first book, All the Bright Places. When I found out she was writing another YA novel, it rose to the top of my “Want to Read” list. And then the other day (actually, yesterday), I found it sitting on the shelf at my favourite bookstore. Needless to say, I bought Holding Up the Universe and gobbled it up in a day.

Holding Up the Universe is about a girl named Libby who used to be America’s Fattest Teen; many people know her as the girl who got stuck in her own house and had to be rescued. Now that she’s lost a lot of the weight, she is ready to go back to school. The other protagonist, Jack, suffers from face-blindness – a disorder that means he cannot recognize faces, including his family, or even himself. He constantly feels as though he is in a crowd of strangers, even in his own home. But he compensates for that by remembering people’s identifiers and embracing the fact that his own identifier is often ‘douchebag’.

I was a little bit nervous going into this book due to the subject matter – if approached incorrectly, this story could have been offensive or cliche. But this novel is neither of those things (at least, to me). I actually found myself relating a lot to Libby. I never earned attention because I was too big, but I was often bullied by people who had simply decided upon first glance that they didn’t like me. And Niven captures those feelings really well.

The writing was very emotional, which I’m glad to see carried over from All the Bright Places. I loved reading about these two characters going through their own issues and finding comfort and support within each other. I also enjoyed the numerous references to nerd culture (Supernatural, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who)!

I could go on about this book, so I’ll stop here. But basically, if you were a fan of All the Bright Places, or if you like books by Rainbow Rowell or John Green, I highly recommend you dive into the world of Niven’s writing. Because she is incredible, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Holding Up the Universe is available online at Chapters Ingido, Book Depository, and Kobo.