When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

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Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA Contemporary

I dip into contemporary YA only on occasion, and YA rom-com even less. So there has to be a really unique take on the genre to grab my interest. This one has been making the rounds in the blogosphere for months, and it definitely caught my eye when I first heard about it earlier this year. It turned out to be a fantastic pick to bring along on my June vacation!

Told from two different perspectives, When Dimple Met Rishi follows two Indian-American teenagers during their summer break after graduating from high school. Dimple is ready for a break from her family, and can’t believe it when they give her permission to attend an expensive summer program for aspiring app developers. Little does she know, it is all part of her family’s plan to introduce her to Rishi…the young man her parents have secretly arranged to be her future spouse.

Rishi is, almost refreshingly, a hopeless romantic. He knows all about the arrangement between the two sets of parents, and attends the same summer program as Dimple in the hopes of getting to know her.

Little does he know that Dimple has been left in the dark as to who he is or what has been arranged, and deservedly freaks out when he first introduces himself.

What follows is a cute romantic comedy, with two really fun and enjoyable characters. It is made even better because by branching out from just being a love story, as it also brings up questions of culture and tradition, family relationships, and coming of age independence.

When Dimple Met Rishi tackles a controversial tradition, that of arranged marriages. I believe this is the first book I have ever read that doesn’t treat arranged marriage solely in a negative light. I have enough Indian friends who are in some form of arranged marriage to know that, although there are many bad arranged marriages out there in which girls were forced into the arrangement and/or treated terribly, there are many good ones as well. It is a complex issue, and while I can’t speak to the cultural accuracy in the story, it appears to be very well done.

The other thing this book did was Make.Me.Hungry!!! When I lived in New Jersey, our apartment was in a predominantly Indian and Pakistani neighborhood, and we had 3 different types of Indian restaurants and a grocer just within a 1/2 mile walking distance. Oh, how I miss that! Khatta Meetha! Nom-nom-nom.

Speaking of food, there is an amazing bar mentioned in the story, 2 sisters bar and books. A bar with tons of books to browse while you sip, and Sandhya Menon makes it sound like an adorable and amazing bar to visit. So I looked it up to find out…this is a real place in San Francisco!! And it just closed it’s doors in March. NOO!!!!

Ultimately, I found When Dimple Met Rishi to be an adorable, heartwarming story about two Indian American teenagers finding their way in life.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Back from a Blogging Break!

Well,  apparently my blogging mojo went out the window the past few weeks, because I unintentionally took a break! I apologize for my silence, the last few weeks have been incredibly busy, and it has been really difficult to find the extra time to sit down in front of a computer for any extended period of time.

However, lots of very cool activities have been filling that time! Like:

Hiking in Zion National Park, Utah

Angel’s Landing Trail

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Emerald Pools Trail

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The Narrows

Canyoneering at Lamb’s Knoll, Utah

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Giving back: Painting the Garden Shed at M’s Elementary School

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Hanging out at the pool

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… and kayaking!!

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Of course, lots of reading has also been happening!

May Reading

June Reading

I am planning on catching up on a few book reviews over the next two weeks, so keep an eye out for those!

I hope you are having a great summer!!

TTT: Summer Freebie

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the theme is a Summer freebie, and i have chosen to focus on the Top 5 book I recommend for your summer reading list, and the Top 5 books I have on my summer reading list!

However, before I get into my TTT, I want to take a moment to show my respect and profound sadness over last night’s bombing at the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena. I had a highly unusual evening last night; I was at my local Target when a fire started inside the store. I was among the hundreds of people safely evacuated; the inside of the store has sustained major water, fire and smoke damage and will be closed for the foreseeable future. I came home slightly shaky, feeling like I missed a close call, only to look down at my phone and see a Washington Post alert about the Manchester bombing. That quickly put things in perspective.

I have a 9-year-old who loves Ariana Grande, and to hear one of the first two named victims was an 8 year-old child separated from her family is heartbreaking. My thoughts are with all those affected by the tragedy.

There was some good news hiding amongst the headlines this morning, which I would also like to highlight. A group of 82 girls who were kidnapped from their school by Boko Haram in the town of Chibok , Nigeria back in 2014, have recently been freed. This is only a small number of girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, but it is heartening to see some of the girls reunited with their families. I can’t imagine their ordeal, and I hope they are on the path towards healing and recovery.

Top 5 Books For YOUR Summer

Reading List

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Young Adult: I like quick reads in the summer, but they don’t necessarily have to be light and fluffy. The Hate U Give is a thought-provoking story that I can’t help but continue to mention on my blog! It is THAT good! And I am definitely not alone, THUG has spent the past 11 weeks at the top of the NY Times YA Hardcover Bestseller List.

Mystery: Maisie Dobbs has been my summer go-to for fun mysteries over the past two years, and I typically read two or three of them each summer. This is an easy series to binge-read, but I have enjoyed taking my time with it. The series starts in post-WWI England, with flashbacks to Maisie’s life before and during the war.

Psychological Thriller:  If you haven’t read All The Missing Girls yet, this was my favorite book from Summer 2016. If you are already an established Megan Miranda fan, The Perfect Stranger is a great choice for your beach or pool tote.

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Award Winner: Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has been getting a lot of renewed attention recently, which is extremely well-deserved! If you enjoyed that book or the Hulu series, I highly recommend checking out some of her other novels! The Blind Assassin won the Man Booker Prize in 2000 and is a fascinating novel that also contains a “story within a story” called…The Blind Assassin.

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Dysfunctional families: I’m currently in the middle of reading Commonwealth right now, but I am far enough along to definitely recommend this as a fun summer read! The summer scenes with both the Cousins and Keating kids hanging out in Virginia are quite unforgettable!

Top 5 Books on MY Summer Reading List

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

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The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

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Wonder by R.J. Palacio

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The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

What reading plans do you have for this summer?

 

Book Review – Every Day by David Levithan

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Book: Every Day
Author: David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary YA

Book Blurb: 

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.
There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

I truly enjoyed Levithan’s writing in Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and went into Every Day with high expectations. The potential was there for greatness, and I loved the concept. A contemporary/science fiction hybrid; to imagine a person without a gender, without a family, without a body, whose only consistency in life is that each day, they will wake up in the body of someone new.

Like I said, the concept is intriguing. But I just couldn’t get into this book.

Every Day is told from the perspective of A, a person who wakes up each morning in someone else’s body. The bodies are always the same age as A; when they were 3 they would always wake up as a 3-year-old; during the novel A was 16. A has never had their own body, the body shifting has been happening since birth. Therefore, A does not have a real name, and never forms attachments. To anyone. A can access the memories of the body they inhabit, but not the person’s feelings. The days have always blurred together for A, as time marches on.

Until A meets Rhiannon after waking up in the body of Justin. Justin is Rhiannon’s callous boyfriend, and A falls instantly in love with her during his brief tenure in Justin’s body. Which leads both to the biggest detraction and the most interesting question Levithan presents: Can love find its way around a seemingly impossible situation?

I can’t stand instalove books, and I rarely read them. I made an exception for this one because it was on my TBR for the 2017 Diversity Bingo Challenge, and Levithan was an author I wanted to further explore. Rhiannon is, I hate to say it, a fairly bland character, which makes A’s obsession with her even more confusing, especially considering the lengths he takes. The friendship between the two is sweet at first, and I give Rhiannon credit for being fairly accepting of what seems like an impossible situation. But, there are so many aspects of their relationship that really bothered me. The stalking, which started to become incredibly creepy. The idea that only A can see Rhiannon’s hidden sadness, and they are the only one who can see Rhiannon as she her true self. The obsession. It is disturbing behavior, which is barely addressed in the novel.

All my sympathy and fondness for A went right out the window when they became obsessed and started stalking Rhiannon. I liked A at the beginning of the story, and I was very sympathetic to their plight. For much of A’s life, they are extremely selfless and careful with the body they inhabit. I can’t imagine how tough that would be day in and day out. Yet I just could not get past all the lengths A went to after falling in love with Rhiannon.

The part of the story I enjoyed the most was the diverse cast of people we meet when A inhabits their bodies for a day. These small stories were quite touching.

I wish Levithan would have gone more in-depth into the paranormal aspect, although I can understand why he did not. What I don’t get, however, is why there wasn’t a further examination of what it means to be male, female, or neither. I really liked having a protagonist that has no gender or ethnicity. Yet I found the writing lacking in terms of how Rhiannon responded once she knew the truth of A’s life. Rhiannon definitely had some prejudices and ignorance on her side lurking beneath the surface, but this was barely addressed.

I know there is a companion book to Every Day, written from Rhiannon’s perspective, called Another Day. I’m highly doubtful I will read it any time soon.

Rating: 2.5/5 stars.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Tough Mama’s

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the theme is a Mother’s Day freebie. I chose to focus on my favorite strong and tough mothers in literature. These mother’s can be fierce, tough on the surface but sacrificing everything for their child underneath. Or they are the sweet and kind mother that exudes happiness and warmth, but without her, the family would fall apart. There is more than one way to be a tough mother.

Top Ten Tuesday: Tough Mothers

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – Marmee is the glue that holds the March family together.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne – Despite her community’s condemnation, Hester shows strength throughout her punishment in the story.

Dreaming in Cuban – Follows three generations of del Pino women: grandmother, mother, daughter, in the shadow of the Cuban Revolution.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan – Esperanza’a Mama is emotionally and physically tough. After losing her husband, her home, and all of her money, she manages to escape with Esperanza to evade marrying the baddy in the story, Tío Luis.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo – You can’t help but love Fantine, the single mother who does everything in her power to try to provide for her daughter, Cosette.

Stuart Little by E.B. White – Mrs. Little treats her son just like any other member of the family, despite the fact that he was born a mouse. She is quite protective of her smallest child.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomery – Behind the tough exterior of Marilla Cuthbert is a hidden warmth and heart of gold. Taking in orphan Anne Shirley, she definitely deserves a place of her own on the list of awesome fictional momma’s. Foster mothers are mom’s, too.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith – coming from a family of strong women “made out of thin invisible steel”, Katie is hardworking and loves her children fiercely. Life has given her a tough, hard exterior that doesn’t change much throughout the novel, but she makes any sacrifice she can to give both her kids an education.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien – I love Mrs. Frisby. She’s kind, sweet, and tough and brave as can be.

What fictional mother would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review – Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

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Title: milk and honey
Author: Rupi Kaur
Publisher: Createspace
Genre: Poetry, Feminism

These days, I don’t read poetry very often. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I read a book of poems. It has been years, other than a handful of Emily Dickinson or Maya Angelou scattered throughout the last decade. Then, last month, I discovered my birth mother’s poetry. And it felt invigorating, soul-crushing, and uplifting…yes…all of that, all rolled in to one, when I read her words.

And it came back to me in a rush, how much I used to love poetry. Once upon a time, I wrote poetry. I wrote about being adopted, about boys and love, about sitting beneath a tree on a warm, sunny day. I waxed poetic, and my poems were never anything special….but I enjoyed the process. It was one of my college boyfriends, a guy who also wrote poetry, and who turned out to be a horrible person, that turned me off of the genre.

Well, I’m ready to reclaim it. So, when I got home from my trip to meet my biological mother’s family, with a basket of her letters, and a journal of her poems, I felt inspired. To take up a new genre, and explore it anew. One week after returning home from that trip in April, I went out and bought Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur.

And that is how I found myself reading it during Dewey’s 24 hour readathon.

it is your blood
in my veins
tell me how i’m
supposed to forget

Milk and Honey is about survival, and is split into 4 sections: the hurting, the loving, the breaking and the healing. The design of her poems are inspired by a Punjabi script called gurmukhi, in which words are written only using a period. There is no other punctuation; all letters are treated the same – no upper or lowercase. I loved this style, as it is often how I used to write my own poetry, only in my case, I was modeling e.e. cummings.

Rupi Kaur was born in Punjab, and moved to Canada with her parents at a young age, and through her poetry she provides a voice to other women of color who may be silenced in a patriarchal and/or colonizer culture. Before reading her poems, it helps to know where she is coming from, as she talks about in the preface:

my thoughts go to the sexual violence we endure as south asian women. we know it intimately. from thousands of years of shame and oppression. from the community and from colonizer after colonizer. by the time i am born i have already survived the first battle of my life. against female feticide. i am one of the lucky ones who has been allowed to live. we are taught our bodies are not our property. you will do with them as your parents wish until they pass the property onto your husband and his family. a good indian girl is quiet. does as she is told. sex does not belong to her. it is something that happens to her on her wedding night. our job is to lay obediently. not to enjoy. let him take.

our trauma escapes the confines of our own times. we’re not just healing from what’s been inflicted onto us as children. my experiences have happened to my mother and her mother and her mother before that. it is generations of pain embedded into our souls.

i read hundreds of books growing up. but none can explain this torment to me. i need access to words written by people who look like me writing about the things i am going through. at that moment i realize the importance of representation and know this must be different for my children. they must have access to their own literature.

Rupi Kaur’s writing is succinct; many of her poems are only a few lines. She is incredibly skilled in bringing her point across in a tiny amount of space.

our backs
tell stories
no books have
the spine to
carry
~ women of color

Some people describe her work as cliché, or simplistic. I disagree. Yes, there is a certain simplicity, a minimalism, but that does not make her words or message simple.

apparently it is ungraceful of me
to mention my period in public
cause the actual biology
of my body is too real

it is okay to sell what’s
between a woman’s legs
more than it is okay to
mention its inner workings

the recreational use of
this body is seen as
beautiful while
its nature is
seen as ugly

YES, YES, YES, YES, YES!!

I had that reaction quite a few times while reading her book. As a woman, as a feminist, as someone who has experienced trauma in my past, I could relate to many of her poems. And I found it a fascinating self-study to look back at all my post-it notes after finishing the book, and realize the poems I currently relate to the most were not in the sections about hurting or breaking, but in the chapter about healing.

This is a book about the human experience, and it is relatable on a wide variety of levels. It takes a lot of courage to write in such a personal manner, and I look forward to seeing what Rupi Kaur does next.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Review – Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green

I’m finally getting a chance to write up some reviews for the books that I read during Dewey’s readathon! This one was one of my favorites.

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Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Author: John Green & David Levithan
Publisher: Dutton Books
Genre: Contemporary YA, LGBTQIA+

This is the story of two Will Grayson’s that meet about 1/3 of the way into the story. One Will Grayson, written by John Green, is the son of two doctors, loving parents that aren’t around very much. His family is fairly well off, and his best friend is Tiny Cooper. Tiny Cooper is a HUGE person, both in personality and size. He literally lights up the page. This Will lives by two life rules: 1) Don’t care too much, and 2) Shut up.

Caring doesn’t sometimes lead to misery. It always does.

~ Will Grayson

The other will grayson, written by David Levithan, sees himself as a lowercase person (and his chapters are written entirely in lowercase). He lives with his single mother, struggles with severe depression and at the beginning of the story, has not yet come out to his friends and family as gay.

“maybe tonight you’re scared of falling, and maybe there’s somebody here or somewhere else you’re thinking about, worrying over, fretting over, trying to figure out if you want to fall, or how and when you’re gonna land, and i gotta tell you, friends, to stop thinking about the landing, because it’s all about falling.”

~ will grayson

They randomly meet one night when their paths converge in downtown Chicago. Will Grayson is shy and struggles with whether or not he wants to be in a relationship. will grayson found love on the internet with Isaac, and is trying to meet him for the first time.

Green’s Will Grayson is kind of geeky and adorable, but it is Levithan’s will grayson I relate to the most. It is will grayson’s storyline that is the most moving. will grayson is dark, and angsty, a bit of a loner, and written extremely well. When will grayson and Tiny Cooper meet, it is everything a reader could want and more. Really, Tiny Cooper is everything a reader could want in a character. I wish I had a Tiny Cooper friend!

Because in reality, so much of this book isn’t about the two Will Grayson’s. It is about Tiny Cooper. For a while I worried that Tiny Cooper would stay flat and clichéd throughout the whole story, but we really got to see more depth to him by the end of the story.

Some people call this book a love story, and it is a love story. A love story about friendship that is both emotional and hilarious.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars