Author: Sandhya Menon
Find the author: Website, Blog, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest
Also by this author: When Dimple Met Rishi
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication date: May 22, 2018
Source: ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada (thank you!)
“Utterly charming.” —NPR “Cinematic.” —Teen Vogue “Funny and sweet.” —Buzzfeed
Three starred reviews for this charming romantic comedy about an aspiring teen filmmaker who finds her voice and falls in love, from the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi.
Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.
When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.
Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?
Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.
Review: From twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon
From Twinkle, with Love stars Twinkle Mehra, an Indian-American girl who’s dreamed of being a filmmaker for her whole life. At the beginning of the book, she’s done a few YouTube videos, but nothing big.
That all changes when Sahil Roy – the nerdy brother of her crush, Neil – suggests that she create a movie for the upcoming Midsummer Night festival at school. He’ll produce, she’ll direct. It’s perfect – Twinkle will get to put herself out there (yikes) and she’ll also get to get closer to Neil – and to her old best friend Maddie who is currently hanging out with Neil’s cooler, “silk-feathered hat” crowd.
The problem? Twinkle’s starting to fall for Sahil. And she’s not sure whether she should be friends with Maddie anymore. And is all this getting in the way of her true dream of becoming a filmmaker who is seen and heard and respected?
From Twinkle, with Love is a classic romantic comedy. It starts with a cute premise and meet-cute, and then launches into a sort of unrequited love/looking for love in the wrong places storyline. There’s definitely touches of Shakespeare here, specifically the mixed-up romances and the “play within a play” of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
It’s also a rom-com that’s heavy on the romance. And the romance is definitely of the “made-for-each-other-written-in-the-stars” type, which I generally don’t love. But like with her debut, When Dimple Met Rishi, author Sandhya Menon makes it work and makes you believe in the perfection of Sahil and Twinkle together.
Part of the reason it works is because we’re really falling in love with Sahil right with Twinkle. Sahil has loved Twinkle for a long, long time, but it’s only when we see them interact that we realize just how much they support and complement each other. Between their joint love of film and their earnest niceness and enthusiasm, it’s just really hard NOT to root for them. The book read a little young for me to swoon too hard over Sahil, but I did really, really enjoy their romance.
What really kept me reading, though, were the threads of friendship and diversity that Menon weaves into the story. I loved how much we got into Twinkle and Maddie’s friendship – which started as a childhood best friendship but might be changing now that Maddie’s hanging out with cooler kids. Both Twinkle and Maddie navigate this new territory a bit immaturely (there’s definitely jealousy, resentment, and shame on both sides), but also with an authenticity that reminds me of myself as a young teenager. In fact, Twinkle’s crush on Neil is based on her idea that if she dates him, she’ll be able to fit in with Maddie’s new crowd. As naive as this idea is, I totally remember feeling the same way when I was 14, and I think Menon writes this friendship with a lot of honesty and respect.
That honesty and respect also threads through Twinkle’s family life, which is so much a part of this novel. Twinkle is adamant about becoming a filmmaker, but she also recognizes that this is not a profession that is easy for a female – or celebrated by her Indian family. It’s only her New Age-abiding grandmother who really appreciates Twinkle and her talent. And even though Twinkle loves her parents, she doesn’t get a lot of affection or positive reinforcement from them.
That’s part of the reason it was so inspiring to see Twinkle pursue her ambitions, in spite of her family. It matters to her that she’s not just a filmmaker, but one promoting feminist ideals. There’s a lot of “smash the patriarchy” going on, from Twinkle and Sahil’s idea to create a gender-swapped Dracula, to the way Twinkle stands up to people at school when they throw fem-shaming insults around. And her feminism is always intersectional – she’s always thinking about what it means to be Indian-American, her family and culture, and how that will play into her work. This is the part of Twinkle I related to the most – and I loved how effortlessly Menon brought it into the book.
Overall, I really enjoyed From Twinkle, With Love. For me, the only part that didn’t feel realistic was the fact that this book was epistolary. It just didn’t feel believable to me that she had the time and the memory to be able to recall all of the incidents in the novel. But it’s a minor quibble, because man, this was a fun read.
The Final Word:
Adorably geeky, authentically Indian, and incredibly feminist, From Twinkle, With Love is a super fast, super sweet read that I highly recommend for 12-15 year old teen readers, or anyone who likes diverse YA. It’s the ultimate diverse younger YA rom-com.
FROM TWINKLE, WITH LOVE by Sandhya Menon is out in bookstores now. Will you be reading it? Have you read Menon’s fantastic debut, When Dimple Met Rishi? Are you a Bollywood or rom-com fan? Hit the comments and let me know your thoughts!