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I don't think it is often that a YA Lit book is written so well - so well, in fact, that I think it could be easily mistaken for contemporary adult literature. The writing is phenomenal and the story is told brilliantly. If you love Amy Tan, then you are going to love this book. Tan's stories have genuine voice and focus on her family. Hidier's book has a genuine voice, but focuses more on the 17 year old main character's friendship and romantic life.
The main character, Dimple, narrates the story in a truly authentic voice, making up words and phrases like most teenagers. Dimple is a U.S. born girl of Indian immigrants and, as such, is caught between two worlds. She feels neither completely Indian nor completely American. The book tells the story of her trying to find her identity and carve a place for herself in the world. It is a story that will be very relevant to first generation Americans of any descent, but also to all teenagers. Dimple's struggle to figure out who she is the story of every teenager, not just sons and daughters of immigrants.
The main plot revolves around Dimple's parents setting her up with the son of an old friend. She is to be a suitable girl for a suitable boy. Dimple, upon hearing this plan, immediately dismisses the meeting. She agrees to attend but is hell bent on not liking the guy, Karsh. They meet and it is a disaster. She tells her best (and beautiful) friend Gwen that the meeting was "like Titanic but without the romance". Later at a club frequented by Indians, Dimple runs into Karsh and after spending some time with him begins to feel differently. She beautifully describes the feelings you have when you are almost touching someone you like. Her friend Gwen interrupts the re-meeting and (unaware of Dimple's changing feelings) blabs to Karsh about how horrible Dimple said the meeting was. (This scene is one of the most hilarious scenes I've ever read - with Dimple desperately trying to get Gwen to shut up while Gwen unabashedly tells Karsh everything Dimple said about him.) Afterward Gwen tells Dimple how much she liked Karsh and was planning on courting him -- and, of course, Dimple the best friend was going to have to help her get Karsh. What ensues could destroy Gwen and Dimple's relationship and make Dimple lose any chance with the completely suitable Karsh.
There are several sub-plots, each contributing to the theme of the book. Dimple goes through a transformation and at the end of the book sees herself and the world through a different light. The theme will speak to most teenagers and the book has some valuable lessons to help a teenager through the dark times of adolescence.
This book is not for everyone, though. The language becomes quite sophisticated in parts and Dimple's voice is extremely unique (and her sentences quite complex). The fact that she makes up words or reinvents them can make the reading difficult. She also uses a lot of references in her narration that a struggling (or even average) reader may not understand. The length of the book - at 500 pages - could be overwhelming as well. But, this is a perfect book for the confident reader who is very close to making the transition into adult literature.