The covers are gorgeous, and the books are by and about women of colour! They’re both out this month and so far, 2017 has been a blessed year due to the number of books by marginalized folks that are being given a huge marketing push (Simon & Schuster has an entire imprint dedicated to publishing Muslim stories).
Next month marks five years since I started writing online and a lot has changed since then. In fact, one of the first things I wrote for Women Write About Comics as staff writer was about the diversity issue at BookCon which gave birth to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement.
- BookCon: Caucasians, Cats, No People of Colour
- BookCon Gives Itself a New, Inclusive Look With Diverse Line Up
- BookCon Notices #WeNeedDiverseBooks
- The Thursday Book Beat: Let’s Call It A Comeback! Lesson Learned for BookCon 2015
But the best part of Goo and Menon’s books is how relatable they are even though I’m not Korean-American or Indian-American.
In I Believe in a Thing Called Love, Desi Lee is smart, engaged in student life and the community but also very awkward when it comes to romance. While she’s getting herself into cringeworthy shenanigans (fashion sweatpants!), she’s also forced to face issues she’s avoided dealing with and one of them is her relationship with her father.
The belief that she needs to take care of her single dad is something that I connected to as an immigrant kid. I’ve placed a similar burden on myself to look after my parents because I want to make sure their struggles to give me a better life was worth it. This leads into When Dimple Met Rishi nicely because that connection I had with Desi became a laser focused connection with both Dimple and Rishi.
Dimple is focused on her dreams of being a great coder like her idol and trying to stay away from the expectation of being obsessed with beauty and boys. Both of these were very much Teen Ardo.
Rishi is the older sibling in his family and has burdened himself with the responsibly of meeting his parents expectations at the expense of his passion. This affects his relationship with his younger brother who gets to do whatever he wants which makes Rishi feel like he can’t (someone has to make sure his parents’ dreams are realized!).
It’s a ridiculous notion from the outside but it’s something that I’ve struggled with as the eldest of four from an immigrant family and it led to a bit of a breakdown in my final year of university (had a lovely chat with my mom about it when she found out I was struggling but the reflex to be THE RESPONSIBLE ONE still lingers).
There’s a scene in the book where Dimple basically has a similar breakdown and apologizes to her parents for disappointing them which harkened back to that final year of university. I bawled and I’m pretty sure I cried at some point in I Believe in a Thing Called Love when Desi is told that it isn’t her job to worry about her dad.
These two stories deal with the internal burden of responsibility that a child places on themselves to look after or uphold the dreams of their parents. It’s a very real thing especially in immigrant communities and single parent homes. It’s as if being taken care of by your parents means you owe them something. Is it nice of you to do things for your parents? Of course! You love them and want them to be happy but there isn’t an obligation to prove that your existence isn’t a burden.
But aside from this, Goo and Menon wrote fun, sweet and hilarious books. I’d read them again and again. Read the books when they come out May 30th. They are worth your time and will leave you feeling great.