Dimple Shah has a plan for her life. Go to college for computer science and follow her passion for coding. Use her knowledge to make apps that will help people and become famous like her coding heroes. Romance is not in those plans. Her mother's desire for her to meet and marry an ideal Indian boy is NOT in those plans. She loves her Indian roots, but romance and marriage will not make her successful coder or developer and Dimple could care less about making herself more attractive. Needless to say she and her mother clash. A lot. Thankfully they don't clash when it comes to Dimple going to the exclusive summer coding camp, Insomnia Con, where you're challenged to make as much of a prototype app as possible in a few weeks. The camp has connections to giants in the tech industry and impressing someone here could launch her career.
Rishi Patel is the oldest son and wants to do right by his Indian immigrant parents. He also wants the same kind of marriage that his parents have, where they love and support each other. He can't wait to go to Insomnia Con and meet the girl his parents think would be a good match for him. Years ago his parents agreed on an arranged marriage with the daughter of their close friends, and at camp Rishi will meet her, you guessed it it's Dimple, for the first time. Camp will let them get to know each other and see if they are suited to be married to each other later in life.
Unfortunately for Rishi, Dimple's parents told her...well... nothing about the arrangement. And needless to say, she's not happy about having this sprung on her when she wants to be focused on coding. Now she's stuck with Rishi for the summer. And he's nice. Actually he's really fun and cool to hangout with, but romance isn't in her plan. Right?
If you like light summer romances, When Dimple met Rishi by Sandhya Melon is your book. I don't normally read a lot of contemporary romances. It's not my thing and too often the characters feel like stereotypes (yeah I know fantasy romance is just as bad, but there are swords and magic there so shoosh!). But I loved this book. The characters feel like real people, including the parents and that almost never happens. And the romance isn't insta-love! Dimple and Rishi circle each other, and clash, and circle back as they try to get to know each other and decide whether they can be friends or something more. And Melon, of Indian origin herself and now living in the US, does a great job showing how the two are both Indian and American without the story ever falling into that old tradition vs modern trope. There's a blend of the two and plenty of Indian references that won't stop you from understanding the story if aren't familiar with Indian culture or Bollywood cinema. (But if this book inspires you to look at Bollywood and Indian cinema, we have a bunch of Indian movies at the library!)
At its heart though the book's about love and finding your way to where you want to be. Whether that means adjusting or rethinking your "plan" or sticking with it when you know it's what your heart wants, even if you have to sacrifice some things along the way. It's about making choices and learning to be ok with them. And it's one of the sweetest love stories you'll read this summer without becoming so sweet you want to be sick.