Tellulah Darling writes YA & New Adult romantic comedy because her first kiss sucked and she's compensating.
Sassy girls. Swoony boys. What could go wrong?
There was a lot to like about this book. I really enjoyed Dimple's voice as our protagonist, and Hidier did an amazing job at bringing this world to life. When we're in the club or Dimple is lost to her photography, I too, was completely immersed and right there with her. I also really liked that at its heart, beyond being about identity, this book was about love. Romantic, platonic, familial and self. I think there were some wonderful messages for readers to absorb but done in a way that was sweet and funny.
That said, there were a lot of things that drove me nuts. First off, it took a while for the book to get going. Once it did, I felt like it took off, but I waded through the first 30% wondering if it was all going to be talky musings about where Dimple fit in. Which brings me to my other peeve - I felt like too many things were presented in terms of extreme black and whites instead of subtler shades of grey. For instance, Devi, for all her talk of being caught between India and America, has a point where she starts to read about Hindu gods and the history of India. This threw me. I was raised Jewish in an extremely secular household, and yet, as a child, I had no choice but to listen to stories and histories about my heritage. Then, in her relationship with her parents, she knew nothing of their pasts. Not how they met, not that her mother loved to dance. Again, just going by my own experiences, and what I remember of talking with friends as a teen, we weren't totally clueless as to who our parents were.
The biggest bump for me, however was that Dimple had no backbone whatsoever. She was a total doormat and Gwyn, her best friend was a total bitch. We kept being told how amazing their friendship was, but I didn't see any evidence of it. It felt more like Gwyn being her only friend was someone Dimple had to hang on to or be left alone. Except that's not how it was framed. I was glad when there was at long last the inevitable fight, but even then, I didn't feel like it went far enough. Suddenly Gwyn was twisted into this sympathetic character that had Dimple apologizing for her own selfishness.
Also, Gwyn and all blondes were just so idolized. I grew up in a place where I was very much regarded as "other". I had no references, no one else like myself to identify with. Not even in books or movies. I understand looking at/trying to work out my own relationship to the "ideal" - but the author again, so extremely just presented this one type as what Dimple strived for. This book was published in 2002? Perhaps by this point, Dimple's world could have been more complex and thus even more challenging than the simple "let the blonde reign as queen wherever she goes."
Happily though, there was a lot of very positive portrayals in this book. The central love story was very sweet and ultimately, I was glad to have read this book.
Thank you to Scholastic and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.