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Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma


I had seen this book in a variety of different places and for some reason did not pick it up for a while. I don't know why, honestly. Then, I saw it reviewed a couple of places at once, so I thought maybe I really need to pick this up, and I am so glad that I did. The characters in this book are cozy and likable. It is the start of a series that is based on Shakespeare; this particular one is based on Taming of the Shrew which happens to be my favorite Shakespeare play. I know, it is the one that is at odds with, you know, feminism and stuff. But I find out there something incredibly truthful about the patriarchal underpinnings of this one similar to Henry James's A Portrait of A Lady. There is something that just feels very real about the way in which the characters weave this tangled web. Admittedly, Taming of the Shrew is a challenge to unfold into a modern-day romance novel, but this book does it well. Additionally, the side characters are so supportive and likable - I'm really excited to read more in the series and find out more about the friends. There is a ton of potential here.

The plot line for the book is that the main characters end up in an argument that gets filmed and put on YouTube by the female main character's (FMC) little sister. The FMC and her sister hate each other. In the argument, the male main character (MMC) basically says that love is bad for your heart and is all an illusion, while she is looking for a love match. This is all set to a backdrop of the South-Asian immigrant experience, so there is a lot of familial pressure (particularly for women) to get married, especially to someone who is successful. Simultaneously, there is a lot of pressure on both characters to be successful in their careers. So, there is pressure to do things in a very particular way: to get married in a particular way, to have careers in a particular way, etc. Both the MMC and the FMC end up in a situation in which their families could give them money for something that they really want: for him, it's a community health center, and for her, it's her late mother's house. But they won't give it to them until there is some kind of engagement. So they get engaged to each other in order to fulfill these obligations. Of course, the main characters and all of their counterparts are successful people already (she's a lawyer, he is a doctor), but the expectations are incredibly high.

On the face of it, the premise is relatively straightforward, but the way that it plays out is much more intricate than I was expecting. The way in which the characters' relationship grows was not entirely what I was expecting, and the complexity of the generational divide was surprising. The juxtaposition of the younger generation living their lives with the older generation knowing that they are going to bars and that they are staying over at each other's apartments, etc. It leads to this weird dichotomy, but it also made the characters feel so much more real. You really need to see how these characters evolve and how they are grappling with their social expectations, their career expectations, their familial expectations: it's a lot of pressure and a lot of guilt on them. Both of them have these close, ride-or-die friends along with them, which was great; there are also a lot of meddling aunties getting involved who were also really really great.

The book felt to me a bit like a less serious version of Hana Khan Carries On (which was a great book that I really enjoyed, but it was more serious; this was a lighter read without being overly fluffy and still dealing with serious situations). I honestly would highly recommend this book to anyone, not just someone who is interested in reading a rom-com that is set within the South-Asian immigrant experience. Even if you are not so familiar with that particular cultural backdrop, this one felt extremely relatable even though this is not a culture with which I'm overly familiar. I'm excited for the next couple of books to come out in this series - I'm hoping that it utilizes the vehicles of Shakespeare again in this particular way because that was extremely well done.

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