This book is a rare treat, in that it presents the life of a typical American teenager with an atypical life, is honest, but doesn't stoop to cliches and stereotypes to tell its tale. This is the story of Dimple Lala, a young woman, born and raised in New Jersey of Indian immigrant parents, who is turning 17 at the beginning of summer. Dimple rejects her parents old-world culture and wants to be an All-American girl, but everyone else sees her as Indian. For her parents, Dimple getting drunk once while out with friends on her birthday is cause for a silent treatment and punishment of international proportions. In one of my favorite lines from the book, Dimple's mother says, "Giving birth to you was easy. It is now that I am needing the epidural!"
Dimple, in comparison to her childhood friend, Gwyn, is positively a model child: a good student, a virgin who has only dated two boys, she doesn't do drugs or do anything out of the ordinary to cause her parents to worry. It turns out that both Dimple and her parents are failing to realize what they have: a caring, lovely family unit and a strong cultural background in Dimple's case, and a very good daughter, in the case of her parents. Dimple's friend, Gwyn, is beautiful and blonde and slim and the center of attention, but she comes from a home where she was abandoned by her father and ignored by her mother, and she craves the stability of Dimple's family unit, which, of course, Dimple does not understand, since she longs to be beautiful and blonde and free of parental restrictions.
Dimple's parents seek to control their daughter by introducing her to a "suitable boy" meaning, of course, another Indian boy, an NYU computer major, and the son of her mother's best friend. Dimple rejects the boy on principal, but then discovers that he is a slightly unsuitable boy, and begins to fall in love with him, along with her friend, Gwyn. Dimple spends the bulk of the novel discovering herself and her life, and realizing that what she has is really a gift. She is exposed to the temptations of teenaged life, she has her heart broken and she rebels against her parents, but it takes a long summer for her to see that everything she has really is something to be envied.
The book is written in a charming, witty style, and, except for a few sort of "romance novel" plot twists, it is very engrossing. It is perfect for both adults and teens, and really should be read by parents and their teenagers.