REVIEW | From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Have you ever found yourself wanting to fit in so badly with the “cool kids,” you’d do anything to be a part? And if you’re shaking your head “no” straight away, imagine for one second that your one and only friend at school (who understands you better than virtually everyone) has been kicking it with the cool kids lately and you’ve been left out all by yourself. Many kids feel this pressure to belong, so this situation isn’t new to us. It’s one we find our friend Twinkle in the middle of as we get into From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon.

contemporary young adult fiction reviews

From Twinkle, with Love tells the story of an Indian-American teen girl named Twinkle, and her plans to desperately rise from the ranks of "wallflower" at school to eventually become the well-known and respected filmmaker of her dreams. Twinkle feels some type of way because her best friend Maddie doesn't quite seem like her best friend anymore, as she's found a new crew. And in Twinkle's teenage mind, she feels the only way to gain cool points with Maddie and the it-crew is to date Neil Roy, the coolest guy in school. If that doesn't sound like enough drama, get this: Neil has a twin brother. And while he isn't all Mr. Popular like his twin brother Neil, Sahil is brilliant within his own right, and like Twinkle, loves film. Twinkle's perfect plan to land Mr. Popular might hit a snag when she scores this opportunity to work with Sahil on a film for the school's Summer Festival. And to complicate things even further, Twinkle has a secret admirer that emails her signing "N." only.

Twinkle's story unfolds in journal entries and letters addressed to her favorite filmmakers, Ava DuVernay, Nora Ephron, and Mira Nair. I love this format, as it makes the story unfold intimately, like the reading of a diary. In these entries, we learn that Twinkle is a dreamer and a planner. She has goals and a solid plan mapped out to make her dreams of filmmaker stardom come true. But she does realize she needs a bit of help being heard as she’s not the most popular or "visible" kid at school. With Maddie occupied with a new crew, Twinkle's best bet is working with Sahil. But will this draw Twinkle closer to her dream guy and her dream career? That’s what she’s banking on.

The only problem with the dreamers is they often live in their heads, not aware of how the ideas in their mind’s eye will affect what’s going on around them. That’s the case for Twinkle. She has a crush on Neil Roy based solely on the fact that he’s cute and popular. Aside from being a member of the swim team, we don’t know much else about him. One would think Twinkle would share cool things he says or does in these personal letters she writes, but she doesn’t. In fact, she is so enamored by the idea of Neil and his popularity, she never notices the nice things other guys do because they like her. All Neil has ever done was speak to her once and call her “cute.” But whatever.

As much as I enjoyed the story, there were times that I was underwhelmed with the progression. There was a lot going on in Twinkle's world: unrequited love and friendship, pressures from putting on a stellar summer festival film, a newly emerging crush, and (of course) the mysterious string of emails from a secret crush with the moniker "N." And if that isn't enough, there's hints of a strained relationship between Twinkle and her mother that I was hoping would be explored a bit more. While all of these things make for an exciting and engaging read, some were not explored in depth. For instance, I never quite understood what initially caused the strain in Twinkle and Maddie's friendship to begin with.

contemporary young adult fiction reviews

I would recommend From Twinkle, with Love to any lovers of contemporary YA fiction, particularly those who enjoy strong (yet flawed) female heroines, diverse characters, and love stories of the quirky variety. To grab a copy of your own, click here.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Simon Teen for a copy of From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon.


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