Review: WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI

First of all let me say this: I’ve been waiting  with bated breath for WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by Sandhya Menon to come out ever since I heard about it. I mean, a Bollywood style YA? What’s not to love? So when I recently got my hands on an ARC I was thrilled. Unfortunately it took me a little while to start reading because dear hubs, also an avid Bollywood fan, got his grubby fingers on it before I did and so I had to wait patiently. By the time he was done and I started, we were on our way to Santa Monica to attend YALLWEST. You can read all about that experience here.

I was still reading it on the plane and when we landed at LAX we decided to grab some lunch. Afterwards I got lost on my way back from the restrooms as one tends to do (okay maybe not most people, but I am directionally challenged). Anyway, while I was wandering around the terminal trying to locate dear hubs, who do I spy but Sandhya Menon, the author of WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI. Of course, since I’d never met her before in my life, I couldn’t be 100% sure. But like Rishi, I believe in kismet and also, I knew she in the lineup for YALLWEST and it wasn’t that far-fetched that she would also fly into LAX. So unlike a normal person I did not quietly continue the search for my husband, who by this time was no doubt panicking about his lost wife. No, I actually walked up to her, confirmed she was indeed Sandhya Menon and not some other unsuspecting passenger and proceeded to give her an exuberant hug. I can’t imagine what she must have thought about being accosted by a complete stranger in the airport (okay, maybe I can. She will probably always travel incognito from now on).

Of course she was perfectly lovely and gracious. She didn’t even run away the next day when we went up  to her after a panel at YALLWEST. My husband was not too impressed with my stalkerish behavior but after he met her and we chatted for a few minutes, he was convinced that things were fine.

The sad thing is, in all the excitement, I forgot to take a picture with her and worst of all, I DID NOT GET AN AUTOGRAPH!! I had the book in my purse the entire time.

Anyhow, I finished the book and let me tell you it was glorious!

I cannot say this enough: it was beyond amazing to read about a character who could have been one of my daughters. They are South Asian, children of immigrants, a leg in each world and they hardly ever get to see themselves reflected in YA. My older daughter, now 22, was an avid reader all through elementary and high school. There were no books with characters who looked like her or came from a similar background. So as I was reading, there were many moments of feeling connected and rejoicing.

What I loved most about this book was that it showcased two very different kinds of South Asian teens. Dimple is fiercely independent, has her own idea of what she wants her life to be and fights her parents, while Rishi is more traditional and feels responsible for his parents’ happiness. With so few books out there featuring POC it becomes more important to convey to readers that no culture is a monolith. South Asians are not all alike, any more than people of any other ethnicity.

And then there were the scenes with her parents and other relatives. Sandhya’s sense of humor is delightful. I could hear the voices in my head as clearly as if I were watching a Bollywood movie or drama. It was fun and light, while at the same time tackling the deeper issue of two very smart and driven young people finding their place in the world.

I can’t wait for this book to come out soon and watch people rave about it.

Reflections on Mother’s Day

This Mother’s Day I dragged two big plastic totes out of my closet. They held photographs, tangible proof of the last eighteen years that I have been a mother. The other proof is in my mind, so when I close my eyes, the memories come flooding back. They are memories of countless trips to the park and the grocery store, where we would hold on tight to each other’s hands so that no one got lost. If I concentrate I can still hear their high pitched voices as they ask endless questions about everything. This Mother’s Day my girls and I went to the mall. We didn’t hold hands and at one point we split up because we wanted to go to different stores. Then we went to the movies. My daughters told me to go get us seats while they bought the tickets and popcorn. As I sat between them, my eighteen and fourteen year old, I felt that I must be the luckiest person alive. Life just didn’t get any better. But then my younger one reached out to hold my hand. After a while I reached out to hold my older one’s hand. We watched the movie like that and I realized that nothing had changed even though everything was different. My girls are all grown up and independent. As they discover their world, I stand on the sidelines watching them make important decisions on their own. When I look at old photographs, I see birthdays and recitals and trips all documented to preserve the important memories. But I know that the most precious ones will live in my mind forever. All I have to do is close my eyes.

Balancing Act: Finding Time for Family and Writing

frustrated

frustrated (Photo credit: jonwatson)

Since I started blogging a few months ago I’ve noticed that a lot of the blogs I follow are written by moms who, like me, have to split their time between writing, family, as well as a job or a home business that demands their attention. Even on the best days, I feel that I come up short. Either I didn’t get around to editing as much as I needed or I didn’t get to spend as much time with my girls as I would have liked to. The guilt kills me, but try as I might, I am just not willing to give up any of the things that make my life great: my family, my work or my writing. Not that I think I should have to choose, but there has to be an easier way. So I thought I might ask you, the readers, to offer suggestions. Perhaps you have figured out a way to have it all, or at least have most of it minus the guilt. Either way I am desparate for ideas, because I have set a deadline for myself and I am afraid…I am very afraid that I am going to let myself down and that I will lose the drive to keep going.