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.

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Italicized Non-English Words In Fiction: Why I hate Them

I hate reading books where every word that isn’t English is italicized. I feel as if the author is assuming that I am not intelligent enough to look up an unfamiliar word or that I am so content (read arrogant) in my knowledge that I cannot be bothered to learn something new. Learning words in another language to me is akin to opening the door to a whole other world. A world with different nuances and meanings than the one I am accustomed to. Who wouldn’t want that? Who wouldn’t want to learn more about another cultures and other traditions? It enriches my world and gives new meaning to my life when I have access to other lives, other experiences. It makes me feel connected to people in a way that is hard to describe. It’s about delving into something basic, so fundamental that it transcends words and language. But most of all it’s just so wonderful to realize that despite all the outward differences, the sounds and accents and appearances we are all ultimately connected to each other by love and joy and pain and suffering. So when I see a word italicized only because of its otherness, I feel as though a door is closing in my face. I feel as if I cannot truly connect. And that makes me sad.

My Stories… Not My People

The other day I was thinking back to the stories I wrote as a child. I was about 7 years old and had moved from Germany to Bangladesh around that time. I had switched from reading my favorite Enid Blyton books in German to reading them in English. Although learning to speak and read in English changed many things for me, what didn’t change were the characters in those books. They were all still white. Every single one of them. I remember being fascinated with everything they did, the interesting food they ate, their traditions and lifestyles. I loved reading about their (mis)adventures and the trouble they got into. As a voracious reader I always enjoyed a wide variety of books, but still…all the characters were white. So it was not surprising that when I wrote my first stories the characters in all of them were also white. They all had names like Nancy or Tom, even though in real life I was surrounded by people with names like Hassan or Seema. It never occurred to me that my characters could be something other than white. They didn’t eat sumptuous Bengali sweets or biryani. They ate fine chocolates and fish and chips. They didn’t wear kurtas or shalwar-kameez. They wore jeans and t-shirts. None of these things by themselves constitute anything untoward at all, but when I look at children’s fiction today and what is available in terms of diverse characters, it saddens me to think that there are still thousands of children around the world who may never see themselves reflected in the stories they love to read. Or even worse, they may never think it possible that they could be super heroes who fight evil. Or that they may be the ones to save the world. It’s depressing. And it’s time for change.

Heartfelt Thanks to Blog Tour Hosts

Yesterday concluded my seven-day blog tour with Diverse Book Tours. It was my first experience doing something like this and I just wanted to thank all the wonderful people who signed up and took the time out of their undoubtedly hectic schedules to read, review and write posts about my book. I am also deeply grateful to Libertad Araceli of Diverse Book Tours for organizing this blog tour and making it such a great experience for me. Please check out  and share the blogs of these fabulous people:

Libertad Araceli at http://diversebooktours.com

Lisa Cresswell at http://www.lisatcresswell.blogspot.com

Jessica Jackson at http://thepsychoticnerd.blogspot.com

Madhuri Blaykock at https://madhuriblaylock.wordpress.com

D.C. Cowan at http://www.fantasyfictionkingdom.com

Constance Burris at http://constanceburris.blogspot.com

Misty Iputi at http://mistyiputi.blogspot.com

Tamara Philip at https://tamaraphilipwrites.wordpress.com

Tricia Drammeh at http://www.triciadrammeh.com

Day Seven of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours

Tamara Philip over at tamaraphilipwrites.wordpress.com and Tricia Drammeh over at http://www.triciadrammeh.com/ were the hosts for Day Seven of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours. 

If you would like to check out a review of Realm of the Goddess  please go to:

https://tamaraphilipwrites.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/diverse-book-tours-presents-my-review-of-sabina-khans-realm-of-the-goddess/

If you would like to read an excerpt from Realm of the Goddess please go to:

http://authorstowatch.com/2015/02/15/realm-of-the-goddess-book-tour/

Day Six of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours

Misty Iputi over at mistyiputi.blogspot.ca was yesterday’s host for Day Six of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours. If you would like to check out her review of Realm of the Goddess please go to:

http://mistyiputi.blogspot.ca/2015/02/realm-of-goddess-by-sabina-khan.html

Day Five of my blog tour with Diverse book Tours. Host: Constance Burris

Constance Burris over at constanceburris.blogspot.ca was yesterday’s host for Day Five of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours. If you would like to check out some random facts about me and Realm of the Goddess please go to:

http://constanceburris.blogspot.ca/2015/02/diverse-book-tours-realm-of-goddess-by.html

Day Four of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours. Host: D.C. Cowan

D.C.Cowan over at Fantasy Fiction Kingdom hosted Day Four of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours. You can read an excerpt from Realm of the Goddess at

http://www.fantasyfictionkingdom.com/realm-of-the-goddess-sabina-khan/

Day Three of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours: Host Madhuri Blaylock

Madhuri over at madhuriblaylock.wordpress.com was the host for Day Three of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours. You can check out her review of Realm of the Goddess at https://madhuriblaylock.wordpress.com/2015/02/11/book-review-realm-of-the-goddess-by-sabina-khan/

Day Two of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours. Host: Jessica Jackson

Jessica over at thepsychoticnerd.blogspot.ca was today’s host for Day Two of my blog tour with Diverse Book Tours. You can check out her review of my novel Realm of the Goddess at http://thepsychoticnerd.blogspot.ca/2015/02/blog-tour-realm-of-goddess-by-sabina.html