Her Story: Ladies In Literature with Sandhya Menon

Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as thirty-nine authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Sandhya Menon

Sandhya Menon was born and raised in India on a steady diet of Bollywood movies and street food. She pretty much blames this upbringing for her obsession with happily-ever-afters, bad dance moves, and pani puri. Sandhya currently lives in Colorado, where she’s on a mission to have her husband and children watch all 3,220 Bollywood movies she claims as her favorite. Her YA novel, When Dimple Met Rishi, will be out in the summer of 2017 from Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster). 

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramGoodreads

As a pre-teen and teen, I suffered terrible social anxiety. Being with people in a social setting for extended periods of time still drains me, but back then I spent 90% of my days in a sweaty, twitchy, nervous heap (though I hid it well, for the most part). Constantly plagued by thoughts of, “What do they think of me? Are they judging me? Did I look stupid when I said that? When I ate that? When I sat there?”, I sought solace in books. I especially loved strong heroines who could get through those very experiences that caused me enormous amounts of fear. I lived vicariously through them and, funnily enough, felt more prepared for whatever new (and dreaded) adventure I faced.

My family moved a lot, and one of the things I had to get used to was starting at a new school every couple of years. Not the best thing when you’re an adolescent, period, but especially odious when you have social anxiety. Getting my sweaty hands on Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers series was like coming upon a pot of chocolate at the end of the rainbow (I know most people would prefer to find a pot of gold, but I have my priorities straight, okay?).

Darrell Rivers, the heroine of the first six books in the series, was exactly the kind of person I loved to read about. Her magic lay not in her perfection — she was far from perfect — but in her ability to make friends, rectify situations, and come out on top in spite of her flaws. Darrell didn’t have social anxiety like me, but she had other drawbacks: Her temper, for one, and judging people too quickly, for another. In the course of the books, Darrell would make mistakes, make amends, and end up happy. I couldn’t get enough.

Looking back now, I think I know what was so powerful about those books. They didn’t say what everyone else said to me when they heard of my fear of messing up (“That’s not going to happen!”). Instead, the books said, “Yeah, you’re going to screw up, probably. But guess what? You can make things right again, too.” That is exactly what my anxiety-addled adolescent brain needed to hear. And even now that message is sometimes exactly what I need to hear: You’re going to screw up. That’s okay. You might even learn something new. Just get up, dust yourself off, and try again.

I think that’s one of the things I love so much about YA. Nearly every story is about learning and growing, realizing your flaws and overcoming (or sometimes embracing) them. One of the things I’ve learned about life as I’ve gotten older? There is no such thing as failure. I was so afraid of getting things wrong as a teen, but the best thing about life is that it’s all about getting things wrong, learning how to make them right, and having fun in the process.

Title When Dimple Met Rishi
Author Sandhya Menon
Pages N/A
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
To Be Published Summer 2017 by Simon Pulse
Find It On Goodreads

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…Right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him — wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself. 

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

4 Responses

  1. Your book sounds so great, Sandhya! I, too, moved much too much during childhood.I honestly didn’t know if I was an anxious child, or if the moving every year had done it.
    love this “life is that it’s all about getting things wrong, learning how to make them right.” So ture! 🙂

    1. Ah, another frequent mover! It’s such a painful thing, isn’t it? But it also makes for great war stories as an adult. 🙂 I’m so glad the post resonated with you! Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  2. What a lovely post! I’ve never read these books, but Darrell sounds like a great character. She would definitely have been someone I could really relate to!

    Also, I feel you on the social anxiety. I’m still that way up until today, even though I’ve learned to manage it a little bit better.
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Hi! I’m Jen! I’m a thirty-something introvert who loves nothing more than the cozy comfort of home and snuggling my two rescue cats, Pepper and Pancakes. I also enjoy running, jigsaw puzzles, baking and everything Disney. Few things bring me more joy than helping a reader find the right book for them!