When Dimple met Rishi is one of my favourite YA romances. There are books I love so much I know I’ll keep them on my shelf for years, and there are books like Dimple that are so good they simply demand to be shared with someone else. I knew immediately that I wanted to share Dimple with my book-loving teenage niece in the Philippines, and kept my copy for months until I found someone who was travelling to the Philippines and could deliver it to her. It’s sweet and super kilig and I just fell heads over heels in love with the characters.
There’s Something about Sweetie is even better. The romance between Sweetie and Ashish is super sweet and believable, and I was moved by the subplots regarding their relationships with their respective families. I squee’d and I cried, and while Ashish wasn’t quite (to me) the book boyfriend that his brother Rishi was, I absolutely felt for him and for Sweetie and wanted so much for both to find their happy ending.
More than that, however, Sweetie is the YA romance I wish I’d read as a child. I’ve always been a big girl, and growing up, big girls were rarely the heroine of love stories. I remember loving the Sweet Dreams book A Little More to Love, but like many stories starring plus-size heroines, so much of the story focused on her insecurities about her weight. On the flip side, I recently read On the Plus Side by Alison Bliss, where the plus-size heroine was so kickass and confident about her weight that I couldn’t quite relate.
In contrast, Sandhya Menon managed to find a wonderful balance with Sweetie’s character, and manages to make Sweetie’s weight an ever-present reality without making it the focus of her reality. As a plus-size woman, I related hard to this, and I wish this book had existed when I was younger.
There’s a great scene where Sweetie refers to herself as “fat.” Ashish immediately tells her not to call herself that, and she responds that “fat” is simply an adjective and it’s only society that attaches a value judgement to it. Which is wonderful and woke, and I hope lots of teens reading this take it to heart.
I love that Sweetie’s fatness is a characteristic and not her defining feature, and most of all, that it doesn’t equate to unhealthiness. She’s a kickass track star, and one of the things that attracts Ashish to her is how awesome she looks when running.
I also love that all the problems with Sweetie’s fatness have to do with external social pressures, specifically with her mom’s constant desire for her to lose weight and the judgement Sweetie gets from her mom’s judgemental friend. I love that the mom’s friend is judgemental not just about Sweetie’s weight, but about other things as well, as this shows that it’s really not so much Sweetie’s appearance that’s the problem as it is the woman’s sense of entitlement to judge others. I especially love that the mom herself, while unreasonable and flat-out wrong at times, is not wholly cruel. Menon does a great job in showing how the mom genuinely wants what’s best for Sweetie, and just has the wrong idea about what that is.
There’s Something about Sweetie is on my list of favourite books this year, for so many reasons. Read it, read it, READ IT!
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for an egalley of this book in exchange for an honest review.