Book Review: From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon
“But there are people out there, people exactly like me, who need someone to come along and tell their stories. To explore all those different universes for them. So why can’t I be the one to do it?”
Last summer, I read When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon and absolutely adored it. It was one of my favorites from last year, and I recommend it all the time to people who are looking for a cute love story. So I was very excited to read Menon’s second book, From Twinkle, with Love. Twinkle Mehra is an aspiring filmmaker, but she is a bit of a wallflower. Her best friend Maddie started hanging out with the popular crowd and has left Twinkle behind, so Twinkle’s life goal is to do whatever it takes to stop being a groundling and become one of the “silk feathered hats”. She has had a long-time crush on the golden boy of her class, Neil Roy. Yet her chance at finally catching a break comes when Neil’s identical twin Sahil offers to help produce her film for their school’s Midsummer Night. But when she starts to fall for Sahil, Twinkle gets confused; should she follow her heart or stick to her plan?
From Twinkle, with Love is told through Twinkle’s diary, in which she writes letters to female directors. (I loved this little detail; I discovered so many new names.) We see Twinkle’s frustrations with herself and others, but for the most part, only see things from her perspective. We do get Sahil’s group texts with his two best friends, Skid and Aaron, and a few posts from his blog, but everything else is from Twinkle’s point of view. During her most irrational moments, I found it hard to always understand her reasoning, but that is part of what makes this book wonderful; Twinkle is such a flawed, complex character, and she acted like an actual sixteen year old girl would behave in real life. Her fights with her friends and family seemed genuine; everything felt like something that could really happen.
I fell in love with Rishi from When Dimple Met Rishi, and Sahil is equally as wonderful. He is such a dreamboat. He has a very weird relationship with his twin Neil and that drives a lot of the conflict in the book. Twinkle doesn’t mention her crush on Neil to Sahil, but from Sahil’s reaction to passing comments about Neil, she picks up on the tension. As she begins to spend more time with and fall for Sahil, her crush on Neil seems farther and farther away, and really only serves her purpose of becoming a silk feathered hat. I really liked Menon’s decision to minimize Neil’s actual presence in the book; he’s only around a handful of times. The tension with him for Twinkle and Sahil is all internalized. Because Neil is pretty much off-screen, there’s never really a love triangle situation, which is good, because I adore Sahil and only want him to be happy.
Twinkle is an inspiring filmmaker and frequently posts to her Youtube channel. At the beginning of the book, she only has a handful of subscribers. But as she and Sahil work on their gender-swapped retelling of Dracula, she comes into her own style of directing and brings out the best performances from her actors. I always love seeing women interested in traditionally male-dominated fields, and Menon has done that twice now with girls of color: Dimple for software development and Twinkle for filmmaking. It’s lovely, and I’m glad younger readers can read about girls of color doing whatever they want.
I’ve said before how one of my favorite parts in YA novels are the representation of female friendships. Twinkle’s best friend Maddie has been acting weird for the last year, when she started hanging out with the more popular crowd. Twinkle is understandably upset; she doesn’t have too many friends other than Maddie, so she desperately wants Maddie back, and if that means becoming one of the “silk feathered hats”, well then so be it. Maddie and Twinkle get into several fights throughout the book, but I liked how Menon handled the dynamics between the two girls. I could imagine the same disagreements and joyful moments happening between two actual sixteen year old girls.
Sandhya Menon is a master at creating complex female characters and lovely book boyfriends. And I cannot wait to read her next book, There’s Something About Sweetie. Fun fact: it’s Rishi’s brother Ashish’s book! Also, Menon just recently announced her first adult romance book that will release in 2020. I am psyched for that!
As you all know, I love a good young adult book, and Sandhya Menon tells fantastic stories of teens growing up and falling in love. I recommend both When Dimple Met Rishi and From Twinkle, with Love. You cannot go wrong with either one! I truly adored this book and give it 4 stars.
What other YA rom-coms do you recommend? Next up on my list is Maurene Goo’s I Believe in a Thing Called Love.