Transcript: Not Now, I’m Reading When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

[Funin’ and Sunin’ by Kevin MacLeod plays]

Chelsea: Welcome back to episode seven of Not Now, I’m Reading. This week it is Not Now, I’m Reading When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon.

Kay: Yay!

Chelsea: Which we loved and have many great lovely feelings to talk about. But before we get into the book of the week, we are as always gonna tell you what we are reading. I’m just gonna keep talking, cause I’m already talking.

[laughter]

Kay: She’s on a roll.

Chelsea: I’m just on a roll. I am currently on a little bit of a romance kick. And by a little bit of I mea a whole hell of a lot of.

Kay: Bingeread. [singsongs] Bingeread!

Chelsea: Like, 75% of my reading in the past couple months have been romance novels. Primarily regency romance novels. Primarily consumed on audio.

Kay: I can’t do romance on audio.

Chesea: Oh, really?

Kay: It’s one of the only genres I don’t do on audio.

Chelsea: I mean, that’s fair.

Kay: And it’s really funny, cause it’s one of my most read genres, but I don’t do it on audio.

Chelsea: I could see how, I mean, it’s definitely, you know, you have to be super cool with people saying words out loud.

Kay: I am the IRL version of an awkward romantic comedy heroine who randomly does really embarrassing things. So obviously if I was ever listening to a romance novel audiobook in public I would accidentally unplug my headphones and it would be the middle of a sex scene and I would be on public transportation and there would be a little old lady sitting next to me.

Chelsea: I mean. I’ve never had anything quite that elaborate happen.

[laughter]

Chelsea: But, like, things in a similar vein have occurred, yes. I mean. I also listen to a lot of murder-related nonfiction via audiobook, so the odds of my headphones slipping out and somebody hearing ‘and then the knife plunged into her liver for the sixth time’ –

[Kay gasps]

Chelsea: Could also happen, so I guess I just put it in, like, the same ‘I don’t really give a shit category.

[laughter]

Chelsea: I also listen via headphones at work. I don’t have what are they the Alexas or the Google home or any of the speakers in your house that can –

Kay: You’re not listening on a speaker, yeah.

Chelsea: And I don’t have any kind of device that’ll just randomly start playing shit from my phone. I don’t have a smartphone setup specifically because I don’t ever want something like that to happen. Ever. So.

[laughter]

Chelsea: That’s just, but yeah. So. Specifically I just finished up the Spindle Cove series. Specifically the very last book which is also a crossover with her Castles Ever After series. Her being Tessa Dare. I don’t know if I actually said that.

Kay: It’s so good!

Chelsea: It’s so good. It is just like all of Tessa Dare’s books. Her books are about women figuring out kind of what it is that they want to do independent of the people that the love. But then also falling in love and finding people that support that. It’s Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare.

Kay: It’s one of my favorite books she’s ever written. I love it so much.

Chelsea: It’s delightful. I loved it so much. I actually also just picked up Tessa Dare’s older series about the horse racing club. Whichever ones those are called.

Kay: I don’t think I’ve read those.

Chelsea: I can tell via Goodreads they’re some of her earlier books.

Kay: It’s not the milkmaids ones?

Chelsea: No, not the milkmaid ones. The first one is One Dance with the Duke. It’s the Stud Club series.

Kay: That’s great. I love that so much. I haven’t read those.

Chelsea: I’m not gonna lie. I saw them on my library bookshelves and saw they’re called the Stud Club and I was like I dunno man, normally I wouldn’t, but it’s Tessa Dare, so I’m gonna go with it.

Kay: Yeah, I think my library doesn’t have those so that’s why I haven’t read them. I do a solid 95% of my reading through the library, so if they don’t have it.

Chelsea: Yeah, I mean, it’s gotten to the point where I am such a big Tessa Dare fangirl because I’ve finished up Spindle Cove and am just finishing up the Castles Ever After series I just put her name into the several different digital libraries that I have cards to and just downloaded everything they had. Really, my general rec for reading is anything that Tessa Dare has put out of her brain and onto paper.

Kay: I heartily endorse that.

Chelsea: Super, super solid just recommending everything Tessa Dare has ever written. In a similar vein I’m just gonna recommend a couple authors of fanfiction. Because the penguins just won the Stanley Cup hey, what what!

Kay: This is, we’re recording this way earlier than you are going to hear this so they won a while ago and have been having a lot of fun getting drunk with the Stanley Cup across this great nation and Canada.

Chelsea: And it’s great. And they’re hugging and celebrating together and there is nothing that hockey fandom loves more than when the Penguins win and people hug a lot. And then we can just take pictures and gifs of people hugging and smiling and being really cute together.

Kay: And kissing the Stanley Cup.

Chelsea: With the Stanley Cup.

Kay: And putting babies in it. We love when they put babies in the Cup.

Chelsea: I mean, I don’t know if it’s the first thing I’d do with my baby, but I’d put it on the bucket list.

Kay: If you were a hockey player, the first thing you would do with your baby would be put it in the Stanley Cup.

Chelsea: I mean, fair. I will acknowledge.

Kay: It’s like a rule.

Chelsea: That’s just the rules of hockey. It’s not actually a rule of hockey.

Kay: Not part of the rules.

Chelsea: Don’t come at me, that’s not an official rule.

Kay: It is 100% in the rule book. [laughs] It’s part of the official regulations.

Chelsea: This is a very long and convoluted recommendation.

[laughter]

Chelsea: I’m recommending the authors twentysomething and thehoyden.

Kay: And those are both massive multifandom authors, by the way. [laughs]

Chelsea: Yes, they are. I’m specifically recommending them in the hockey rpf fandom for the work they’ve done. Both of those authors have long works in many fandoms. So they’re worth checking out just in general. But they both do incredibly well plotted fic and writing together they have my favorite Sid and Geno. So.

Kay: I want to shout out specifically, real quick. Thehoyden has written like four of my favorite Deep Space Nine fics out of the five Deep Space Nine fics that I love.

Chelsea: So there’s that.

[laughter]

Kay: Just throwing that out there.

Chelsea: Just to be fair, I know we have some listeners who are more interested in quick fixes when it comes to some of their fics that aren’t necessarily here for 90,000 words of novel length fiction.

Kay: 160,000 words. [laughs]

Chelsea: I mean, I wasn’t gonna go for that one. But that was the one that you recommended me first, and ruined all of hockey fandom, but it’s fine! It didn’t ruin it there’s so much there to love. That’s And Never Been Kissed. And some day we will get through an entire episode without mentioning that fic, but today is not that day.

Kay: Not gonna happen.

Chelsea: But both of the authors have plenty of shorter works. If you’r emore in the 2, 5, 7,000 words category and want some shorter stuff there’s still plenty of that too. That’s just my blanket recommendations of authors. What are you reading?

Kay: All the things. I needed a fun audiobook reread of something I already owned and is fun and funny. And so I was like hey, let’s reread Old Man’s War by John Scalzi.

Chelsea: Such a good choice.

Kay: Because I always forget that even though they’re funny they’re also gutpunch feelings books, so great/terrible decision, me.

[Chelsea laughs]

Kay: But they’re really wonderful. If you’ve ever been considering trying a space opera try Old Man’s War. Old Man’s War totally stands alone and you could just read that book, but I love the series. Which is still ongoing. i think there’s five or six books. He’s contracted for at least two more in that massive Tor contract he signed. There’s at least two more in the series coming. But anyway, they’re good. You should totally check them out even if you’re not normally a scifi person. They’re very cinematic and breezy. Well paced. And great characters. Great characters. [laughs]

Chelsea: Cause that’s what sticks with me the most from the Scalzi books. I remember having a good time and really loving the people. The characters that he creates.

Kay: They’re very multidimensional and their relationships with each other always feel multifaceted and I just appreciate that a lot. I’m also finally finishing out  my reread of The Telling by Ursula K Le Guin which I’ve been reading for three or four  months now. I’d have to check my Goodreads to check. It’s one of the Hainish cycle books so it takes place in the same universe as The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed which are probably my two favorite books of hers, actually. And I do like The Telling, but I think it’s her densest book ever.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: I’m pretty sure the densest book she ever wrote.

Chelsea: I mean, I love her work, but yeah.

Kay: Her work is dense as fuck, but this book is really dense. Not in a bad way, but it does mean I just read two pages at a time, which is why it’s taken me literal months. [laughs]

Chelsea: Which is fine, but it’s definitely longer to get through.

Kay: But it means I can only read a page or two in a sitting and that’s it. And it’s been working very well. I’m glad to finally finish that one. It’s super interesting. And there are a bunch of really great fics I’m reading. Because, again, the world is on fire and when the world is on fire I just tend to reread things. You’ll notice none of this was new stuff. Didn’t read any new stuff, okay? Except the book that we read for this podcast. Which we’ll get into in just a minute.

Chelsea: Which was great.

Kay: But I reread Limited Release by rageprufrock who, again, blanket recommend as a fanfic author.

Chelsea: Oh, Pru.

Kay: It’s wonderful. We love Pru. Who is also one of the late great Slash Report podcast which I am forever sad is no longer a thing.

Chelsea: Pouring one out.

Kay: We love Slash Report, but they are still paying for hosting so all their old episodes are still up. God bless ’em. Thank you guys. But Limited Release is one of my favorite X-Men: First Class fics, and there’s a lot of really great X-Men: First Class fics. I don’t even know how to explain it other than it’s a modern AU where Charles is a professor at Columbia and also the face of the mutant movement. And Erik is an FBI agent who’s the head of a mutant task force and most of the characters from X-Men: First Class are in it. And it’s just really good. It focuses a lot on the relationship between Alex Summers and Hank McCoy. Who were both basically, had really shit childhoods even though the situation in this AU for mutants is a lot better than it is in canon. And it also focuses a lot on the relationship of Charles and Erik which is always a really great thing to focus. Because there’ s a lot going not here. But it’s also a really great character study of every mutant who appears in the fic. Pru just gets into the heads of her characters in a way that very capable of doing in this way. And it just is really, it’s so good. And it gives me a lot of feelings. And it’s brilliantly paced. It is really long. This is not like a quick you’re gonna be in and out you’re done with this fic. It’s 63k. You’re sitting down to read a novel. But it’s really great. So if you want a quick in and out X-Men fic, though, I also reread this wonderful fic by Traincat, who writes all my favorite Spideytorch fic. But this is for X-Men: First Class. It’s The Masked Man (Who Has Everything). Where Erik is Batman and Charles is kidnapped roughly once a week and it’s a delight. And again it’s Hank McCoy/Alex Summers as a secondary pairing in that as well. I don’t know why a lot of writers write that as a side pairing, because it’s not something I ship at all. I don’t get it, really, but they keep writing it so well so I keep reading it. It’s fine.

Chelsea: I’ts fine. We just won’t look to hard at it.

Kay: I still refer to X-Men: First class as that asshole movie that made me ship Armando and Alex in like two minutes and a pinball game and then killed Armando like two minutes later. And I’ll always be bitter about that. I rant about X-Men a lot. I have a lot of feelings about X-Men in all their iterations and Chelsea doesn’t really get it.

Chelsea: I don’t.

Kay: I’m gonna recommend this Yuri on Ice fic real quick.

Chelsea: Is it the one you recced me?

Kay: Mmhm. This is a Yuri on Ice fic and it’s post-canon social media on crack. And I don’t usually read cracky things, okay? It is called Night is Young and the Music is High by opalish. [laughs] And it’s basically about how Yuri used to have a personally reasonable system for handling press and it was see them coming, pretend he doesn’t see them coming, and walk away quickly. And if he does get cornered he just gives a very short stilted answer. And after the series, that’s not how press is handled anymore. And it’s like he doesn’t even know what is happening to his body, but suddenly he’s having breakdance challenges and, like stuff just keeps happening.

[laughter]

Kay: And it’s just really funny. My favorite part is ‘Breakdancing Sensation Yuuri Katsuki Inspires Impromptu Airport Flash Mob’!

[laughter]

Kay: And that’s all you should need to know. Go read this fic. It’s only like 2,000 words. It’s wonderful. Read it immediately. [laughs] That’s it. I lied, it’s 3,000 words. But still, that’s way shorter than anything I rec ever. [laughs]

Chelsea: For sure. Go check it out.

[Funin’ and Sunin’ by Kevin MacLeod plays]

Chelsea: Okay, well then we are gonna go ahead and talk about our book of the week. Which is When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. It is a recently published YA book. When Dimple Met Rishi is about Dimple Sha who, more than anything, wants to go to this tech programming event called InsomniaCon. She has a great idea for an app. She wants more than anything to win this contest and get her app in front of her idol in the tech world. She’s nervous to ask her parents to go. Her mother is very much so into Dimple becoming the proper Indian lady and finding the ideal Indian husband, but shockingly enough to her her parents give her permission to go. At the same time, Rishi Patel has been told he is promised to Dimple, that Dimple is going to be his future wife, that Dimple knows that, and that Rishi is gonna go to InsomniaCon to get to know her. Spoiler alert! She has no idea what’s happening. So when Rishi introduces himself as her future husband she freaks out and throws an iced coffee in his face. And the whole rest of the book is basically just a young adult romantic comedy about their relationship and about them learning how to be themselves, but still be true to their traditions and their families.

Kay: It’s a YA arranged marriage romcom, which is like everything you’ve ever wanted in your life.

Chelsea: It’s so good. And I will admit to being a little wary about the arranged marriage part right at the beginning because that’s not usually my favorite trope. But this book handled that so well right from the very beginning. I loved this book. I just wanna say it’s super great and super important. This book actually hit the New York Times bestseller list.

Kya: [sinsongs] yes!

Chelsea: Which is super great not just for the book and for represenation, but the book on the cover actually has an Indian girl. She has mehndi on her hands. She’s very clearly a person of color. This just kind of flies in the face of all those people who want to say that you can’t sell a book to white people unless there’s a white person on the cover.

Kay: For the record, I read, like, 99% digital and I bought this in hardcover because it’s so beautiful.

Chelsea: I also wanna say people tak a lot about the front cover cause it’s awesome and the girl is really cute and everything.

Kay: I love the back cover!

Chelsea: But the back cover is amazing.

Kay: It’s her throwing the coffee in his face. it’s wonderful.

Chelsea: It’s Dimple throwing the coffee on Rishi and it’s so cute. Even without knowing the scene that it’s from, the cover captures some really great energy. Just kind of a side note as a physical object and a packaged item, this is great and it also hit the bestseller list and I’m super fucking stoked for that because it totally deserves it.

Kay: Absolutely. I feel like most of this is just gonna be us gushing about how much we loved this. So I’m probably just gonna go in with my two minor quibbles just right off the bat.

Chelsea: Go for it.

Kay: They’re really minor. I think this had some really small first novel pacing problems. I think the final kind of argument situation that I didn’t wanna spoil this cause I want everyone to read this. But there’s a final thing that they argue about and kind of split ways and obviously they get back together because it’s.

Chelsea: I feel like we can spoil it in saying it’s a romantic comedy so it doesn’t end in tragedy.

Kay: They end up together. It’s not a tragedy. But I thought that was all really compressed. I thought. It’s really compressed.

Chelsea: It was paceda  little oddly, I’ll agree.

Kay: I think that the relationship stuff is paced very well. The development of it. I think the pacing of other events in the book don’t work as well. I think that the stuff about them developing the app and them being at this — they call it a con but it’s basically a camp for kids between the summer of their last year of high school adn going — it’s like coding camp. So they’re all, they’ve all just graduated form high school and are about to go off to college. The pacing of that was a bit off, not like awful, but it just was a little slow.

Chelsea: That part of the plot line definitely took a back seat to the romanticcomedy parts of the plotline.

Kay: Which is fine, cause I thought the romantic comedy part was much more interesting than the other part.

Chelsea: Bu tit’s important to know because a lot of the kind of big blowup of the conflict hinges on the plot background of them being at this camp. So without there being as much power behind the story there some of that final big conflict feels, I think like you’re saying, might lead to some of that compression or compression of how that whole thing played out.

Kay: Not awful. I still loved the book, but there was just a little bit of an issue with the pacing there. My other minor quibble. I don’t know how minor it actually is, now that I’m thinking about it. Some of the things that the book says about…the book is very good about being sex positive and relationship positive. But there are some instance where there’s discussion of the way that people dress and do their makeup?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Kay: That I didn’t love. And it wasn’t like slut shaming. Because the book was very clear on being sex positive. But uh.

Chelsea: I twas though.

Kay: There was a bit of an attitude that I didn’t appreciate, you know? It wasn’t quite slut shamey, but.

Chelsea: Dimple has kind of convinced herself that like mentality where shes not super into makeup. She loves to wear her glasses. She considers that a part of her expression. She likes to have  her hair not done always.

Kay: She refuses to wear contacts. She’ll only wear her glasses.

Chelsea: And because that’s part of her identity. Some personality stereotypes of people who don’t follow her in that.

Kay: And I felt like it was being written in a self aware way. I think that the author knew that she was writing this as she was writing it. And that this was the character’s feeling and not necessarily the author’s. Which is a very important distinction. But I still didn’t really like it.

Chelsea: I kinda wanna talk real quick. I wanna get on my soap box because that, something that you mentioned kind of branches off into something that I loved the most about this book. Was that I wished every young adult book featuring characters sixteen and up had on the page this open and frank discussion of having sex and what having sex can mean and not just that, but the fact that in this book Dimple is basically the aggressor? I think is super rad. I think that in a lot of books and for all the great steps that have been made in young adult literature specifically about sex positivity, there is still this kind of overwhelming underlying idea that the woman has to wait or should wait for a man to make advance in order for it o be proper. Whether or not she then moves on those advances is a different issues. But a woman asserting or a girl asserting I would like to have sex with you, I have considered this, I have thought about this and I have made the rational decision that that’s what I’d like to happen is great. It’s so great and so healthy.

Kay: I loved that.

Chelsea: And such a healthy part of establishing safe relationships and healthy relationships and a healthy sex life and a healthy attitude towards all of it. And Dimple and Rishi they have that conversation. And he brings up the issues in his life and his family that present, you know, roadblocks to that. And she also talks about it. And, you know, sometimes books like this get unfairly accused of being unrealistic and I feel like that does them a great disservice. Because I know so many teens who are willing and ready to have these conversations. They’re just not given the best models to do it with. They don’t see it enough on the page or on the screen to know how to begin to have those kinds of conversations even though they want to and they know they should be. So I just fucking love that part about this book so much.

Kay: Can you imagine if we had books like this to read when we were in high school?

Chelsea: Are you fucking kidding me?

Kay: This kind of healthy relationship development and open conversations about sexuality and consent?

Chelsea: And I think that in a similar kind of path this book is really great about — theh reason I love Dimple so much is because she actually uses the word misoginy in everyday conversation with the people that she’s talking to. She point blank says to her mom you’re being misogynistic. And I’m just like yes.

Kay: So this is like the very first chapter when Dimple’s talking to her mom. And her mom basically is saying you’d look so pretty if you did whatever. And Dimple says, “That is such a misogynistic view.” And then her mom goes on a little rant and Dimple replies, “Seriously? That’s what you think I should be relegating my brainspace to? Like if I don’t make the effort to look beatiful my entire existence is nullified? nothing else matters? Not my personality? My accomplishments? My hopes and dreams mean nothing if I’m not wearing eyeliner?” And when she’s coming from that place, you understand why she has the feelings that she has about the way that other people are doing their makeup and wearing their clothes. But not everyone has the particular baggage Dimple, and you need to not be a dick about it. [laughs]

Chelsea: Also, yes. Like as a general rule, other people’s baggage is not your baggage. And your baggage is not other people’s baggage. So just don’t be a dick until you know what other people are carrying around with them.

Kay: We’re all wandering around with our own types of luggage, okay, lady?

Chelsea: But at the same time, I got chills listening to you read that out loud because again. I’m thinking back to young me having already that thought process in my head. And then to see a character articulate out loud that the cosmetics you put on your face have nothing to do with the emotional, intellecutla or interior capacity of you as a human being. Should not be as revolutionary feeling as it is, but it is. It feels so great just to read that written on the page like that. I just love it so much.

Kay: Especially coming from a teenage character speaking to their parent.

Chelsea: And especially in that first generation immigrant child speaking to a parent. And it’s talked about in the book. That amount of deference paid to parental input in various cultures. Both in Dimple and Rishi’s Indian cultural, but as well as in Celia’s Hispanic culture and in the culture of Evan, whatsisname, the white guy? Your parents and your family and the pressures and the influences they can have on you for good and for bad.

Kay: I loved how she showed how very different these two first generation kids could be.

Chelsea: Yes.

Kay: In their feelings about culture and their feelings about how that culture should impact their relationships. Both with their family and with other people. Because Rishi is very traditional. And he.

Chelsea: And he’s into it. he prides himself on being a spiritual person.

Kay: He loves it. There’s this really lovely conversation he has about how he feels when he goes back to India. About how he feels the weight of history, but in a comforting way. Like he knows how his life is going to go. he knows what he is supposed to do and how that is comforting to him. Which I think a lot of people from strong cultural backgrounds feel.

Chelsea: It’s a really strong contrast to Dimple. Who still very much so loves her family. And her whole reason for being at this camp is for making an app to help people like her father who is a diabetic. To help people take care of themselves in a way that is engaging and fun and will help her father take care of himself. So she’s coming from a place of wanting to help her parents. But at the same time is very much so whereas Rishi feels comforted by that cultural community, Dimple feels very smothered by it.

Kay: Which is definitely, you get to see the gender dynamics there, too, which is really great.

Chelsea: yes, because as a boy and obviously, gender dynamics can span cultures in a lot of different ways. But because Rishi is a boy there is a sense of duty that is placed on him that is different.

Kay: Especially as an eldest son of a very wealthy family.

Chelsea: Of a VERY wealthy family. Which, there’s some class stuff that I think is interesting in this book that we can talk about in a second. But I just think it’s interesting that there’s such a different push. I feel like so often in these narratives you get the first generation child who is much more like Dimple. Who’s completely pushing back. Who feels smothered and overwhelmed and trapped by her family’s expectations. But in my knowledge, I can’t remember thinking of a story where a first generation kid feels so invested in and involved in carrying on that tradition. And actually takes a lot of pride in coming from that cultural background and wanting to continue on that path.

Kay: In the way that Rishi does. It’s so great.

Chelsea: He’s okay with the idea of having this arranged marriage with Dimple because his parents had it, kind of such a romantic story that he wants that romance for himself and he thinks that’s how he’s gonna get it. It’s very interesting. i thought it was a very cool contrast to each other.

Kay: I like that we get the revelations that basically all the expectations that they think their parents are placing on them are just their own perceptions of the situation. Their parents just want them to be happy. Which like. And everything turns out really great. Which is all I can ask for in a YA romcom. It’s really lovely.

Chelsea: These are YA parents done well. These are YA parents that are involved in their children’s lives.

Kay: I’m so happy to see YA parents done well.

Chelsea: And while none of the relationships are perfect, there is clearly a lot of love and respect and honest communication going on between.

Kay: Which, no one’s relationship with their parents is perfect.

Chelsea: Fair. So that’s always great to see. But healthy communication is not always something that happens between parents and teens in young adult books. So to see it here happening is great. And Dimple learns some lessons about respecting her mom and talking to her mom and not always, necessarily, coming from a counter-position immediately. As is the case, her mom does have her best interests at heart and isn’t setting out to make her life difficult. Okay. So. Let’s see. DO we wanna talk at all about the other group of people in this book? Evan and Isabelle and Hari? So there’s a couple different scenes. There’s a scene with a talent show where these two boys have convinced these two girls to dance around them in bikinis while they sing a super misogynistic song. Which they kind of guilt the girls into doing in a way that is super creepy and unhealthy that I think serves in contrast to the relationship between dimple and Rishi that is very effective if kind of one dimensional. And one of the worst quotes in the entire book, which works well, but is still really awful. is that one of the first dinners they all have as a group, Rishi is talking about going back to India. And this white boy Evan says as soon as you hit the airport you can smell the third world countries. Ask anyone. Ask Dimple, here. Isn’t it true? Can’t you just smell them as soon as you land?

Kay: That’s so gross and racist. That’s so gross and racist.

Chelsea: It makes me really uncomfortable, but there are people who think like that. That’s a real kind of villainy and a real insidious way of being culturally unaware and disgusting that I think that teens deal with a lot more than people realize. That that kind of cruelty and hatred and bigotry seeps down into all different ages. Including teenagers.

Kay: They go through a lot of microaggressions throughout the novel, but like. That was just a straight up aggression.

Chelsea: There’s nothing micro about that. That shit was straight up racist.

Kay: I need to find the part where Rishi’s talking about when he’s doing reverse microaggression. here we go. This is, this was like if I didn’t already love Rishi, when I hit this part I would’ve loved Rishi. So Dimple sneezes and Rishi says gods bless you. And she kind of makes a point to kind of make fun of him, like gods really? He says as a Hindu I’m a polytheist as you well know. And she laughs and says I know we still only say god, not gods. We still believe Brahma is the supreme creator. He’s like you got me. It’s my version of microaggressing back on people. So this is how it works in the US. In the spring we’re constantly subjected to bunnies and eggs wherever we go signifying Christ’s resurrection. Then right around October we start to see pine trees and nativity scenes and laughing, fat white men everywhere. Christian iconography is all over the place constantly in our faces even in casual conversation. This is the Bible of comic book artists. He had a come-to-Jesus moment. All of that stuff. So this is my way of saying hey maybe I believe something a little different. And every time someone asks me why gods I get to explain Hinduism. And I was like, that’s fucking genius.

Chelsea: Yes.

Kay: I love you so much. And also yes.

Chelsea: Yes. [laughs]

Kay: all the insidious Christianity shit everywhere.

Chelsea: Insidious western white Christianity shit all over the place. And guilty, myself. I am guilty of using the phrase come-to-Jesus moment without being fully aware as I’m speaking of just how slanted that is and how much that’s coming from that white Christian cultural background so I’m gonna work on it. I’m gonna find a substitute for that particular phrase because it is unfortunately one of my favorites. Part of the other thing about that other trio of characters is that. Damn. I don’t wanna spoil it. But I want to talk about some stuff. There’s some really great stuff in there about nepotism and the power of nepotism kind of regardless of skin color and how wealth can play into nepotism and how gender can play into feeling entitled to things. I won’t really say much more than that because I do think not knowing a ton about this book is one of the best ways to read it. But that is definitely a thing that becomes a dynamic in this book that was super interesting.

Kay: I do want to say that both characters do get to meet their idols, basically. Which was really lovely and both of those scenes were played to good effect, I think.

Chelsea: I also really loved the, I’m a sucker for art in books. I am a sucker for artists and people who draw.

Kay: Yes.

Chelsea: And people who draw in books. So that side of Rishi in the scenes where he’s described as getting into drawing and being lost in art and how he sees the world as an artist. I was super into that. I thought those passages were particularly beautiful. This scene had me squealing out loud when they say I love you to each other. I just completely lost my shit because it was so good.

Kay: There are just so many lovely little scenes. I could go through forever being like and this one was great and this one was great and this gave me loads of feelings.

Chelsea: I literally looked at my hsuband and was just like I love books. I just love books. They’re just great.

Kay: Books are just great. We just love ’em.

[laughter]

Chelsea: This book just makes me feel happy. It’s a great romcom. It takes place in the Bay Area. From what I hear from Bay Area readers it’s, you know, pretty spot on. I don’t live in the Bay Area.

Kay: Where I will be next time this week.

Chelsea: Hey!

Kay: Watching Hamilton! Literally this time next week I’m gonna be getting dressed and getting ready to go to a matinee of Hamilton in San Francisco so.

Chelsea: Super jealous but also super happy for you.

Kay: I’ll be saying hi to Karl for you, babe.

Chelsea: Okay, so before we go, did you have — I know we already talked a lot about different parts, but did you have a favorite part or line?

Kay: We’ll do this one. It’s during their first kiss.

Chelsea: It’s so good.

Kay: So this is from Rishi’s point of view. Some moments in life were intensely disappointing. You waited and waited and waited and then summer vacation turned out to be boring. Your big trip to NYC was awful because people were rude and it rained the entire time. The movie you’d been waiting to watch for months sucked when it finally came to theaters. This moment was nothing like that. This moment was like Diwali and Rishi’s birthday and a new Leo Tilden YouTube video all rolled into one. I just!

Chelsea: It’s so good!

Kay: It’s so sweet! [laughs]

Chelsea: I have, okay, I have two. The first one is part of the writing that I love so much. It’s right after they say I love you. She goes I love you. Her eyes were emitting so much light they were going supernova. Rishi’s heart exploded into a thousand colors. The world was on fire. And then the other thing that I pointed out and the reason I highlighted this moment is because it was one of the few times where I became deeply frustrated with Dimple as a character. And I do this with young adult books across the board. And full caveats, I understand this is a teenage thing. i work with teenagers. I get it. It’s still really annoying. Dimple was eighteen. She didn’t need a savings account. She needed adventure and spontaneity and travel. She needed to make a few bad decisions and have a few boys break her heart. And just like no. No! You don’t! You.

Kay: Baby, no you don’t.

Chelsea: If I could go back and talk to baby Chelsea about anything it would be to go back and say you can have stable, healthy drama-free relationships of all varieties in your life and still have the adventures and still have all of the stuff. Thinking that you need the heartbreak and the bad boys and all of that with the being spontaneitous is just not true And I just wanted to wrap her up and be like no, Dimple! No!

Kay: No!

Chelsea: You don’t need that. you just need somebody who loves you. Which Rishi does. That was some of my favorite parts. But as we’ve already said this whole book is basically nothing but favorite parts. Definitely go read it. Definitely pick it up and see if your library has it. Find it wherever you can.

Kay: i do wanna say I’m declaring Rishi my favorite contemp YA hero ever. And that’s some stiff competition from someone raised on Sarah Dessen heroes.

[laughter]

Chelsea: Ohmygod shut up. There was one Sarah Dessen I was thinking of where I was like I don’t know if he can beat this one Sarah Dessen character. Dexter from This Lullaby. He remains the king of my young adult her o mountain since I read it.

Kay: I mean, Dexter’s real great, but I still go with Rishi.

Chelsea: I will give it to Rishi because I have not read This Lullaby in a long time. I do not think it’s gonna hold up the way I want it ot hold up. I’m not willing to reread it because I don’t wanna ruin it.

Kay: Yeahhh.

Chelsea: That’s because my gut tells me it’s not gonna hold up that well.

[Funin’ and Sunin’ by Kevin MacLeod plays]

Chelsea: But alright. In complete contrast to talking about a book that we loved a whole lot.

[laughter]

Chelsea: Join us next week to talk about The Iron King by Julie Kagawa. That was the first book that I picked for Kay. So Kay and I give full credit to this entire idea to the Reading the End podcast. And to the Jennys. This is literally our stealing their idea of The Hatening. If you don’t listen to Reading the End or you’re not familiar with what that is, basically the Jennys pick books for each other that they think the other one is not going to like. It is an experiment in karma and in expanding your horizons and in explaining and evaluating why you don’t like stuff. So that’s what we’re gonna do next time. We have many thoughts and many feelings and they’re not great ones. So you should definitely come back for some good old fashioned book venting. Until then. Take care of yourselves, keep reading, and we will see you guys on the internet. Bye.

Kay: Bye!

[Funin’ and Sunin’ by Kevin MacLeod plays]

Outtakes:

Chelsea: Violence is never the answer. That’s this podcast’s official position. But if I were Rishi I woulda punched the shit outta that guy, too.