Menon, S. (2017). When Dimple Met Rishi. NY: Simon & Shuster.
Dimple and Rishi, two Indian-America teenagers, have finished high school and are excited to brave the beginning of the rest of their lives, however each have very different viewpoints of what that looks like. Dimple (who unfortunately never materialized any real dimples to live up to her name) has passionately chosen to pursue her career, beginning with a Stanford education. Rishi on the other hand is more traditional, choosing tradition and obedience over doing what makes his soul sing. His little brother, who is now bigger, taller, and much more muscular than the MIT-bound Rishi, suggests he be more balanced and reminds him of the comics he used to love.
Dimple and Rishi go to a computer programming summer camp in San Francisco; Dimple is thrilled to be studying with some of the best in the field and surprised her parents allowed her to go, while Rishi signed up because both sets of parents have actually set up an arranged marriage for their children and want them to get to know each other a bit before leaving for colleges on separate coasts. Rishi, a Continue reading
Gardner, W. (2017). You’re Welcome, Universe. New York: Knopf.
You’re Welcome, Universe is Whitney Gardner’s debut novel that smoothly weaves layer upon layer of diversity, beginning with Julia, a teenager who is Indian American and Deaf. She has two moms (who are also Deaf) but the story doesn’t pause for very long on this LBGQT+ detail; it simply is the way it is. Deaf culture, however, is a world that gets explored. And the inclusion of art is inter-dispersed throughout the pages of the book with drawings done by the author.
Julia’s character is real and raw and flawed. Often she is frustrated by people’s cluelessness regarding deafness, and she can be very abrupt about it. When we first meet her, she is in the principal’s office for spraying graffiti on school property. Nevermind she was covering up slurs about her friend, she still gets expelled.
Graffiti is another underrepresented world that is allowed a front row in this novel, and its validity is exposed. Julia’s passion for her art takes her around the city at night when she draws and then “tags” – not her name since graffiti is illegal – but a special signature that is hers alone. Little does Julia expect someone else to draw over her drawings, making them even better! An all-out graffiti war unfolds as we all wonder who is behind it.