From Twinkle, With Love, Sandhya Menon – Book Review

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36373464Aspiring 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.

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I HAVE A LOT OF FEELS ABOUT THIS, OKAY? And, this is basically going to be a gooey mushy gush about how much I love this book and it’s characters, so if you’re not interested in that sort of thing, may I please show you the door.

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Now, that people have weeded themselves out, LET US GET TO IT! I HAVE SO MUCH I HAVE TO SAY! OH MY GODS. I AM ACTUALLY FREAKING OUT BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO MISS OUT ON SAYING ANYTHING.

Let’s start. From Twinkle, With Love, is the story of Twinkle, an aspiring film maker and trials and tribulations in her senior year of high school. She goes through so much during the year and it really shows in her development as a character and as a person. The novel is told in the form of letters to famous woman filmmakers, with a few messages and emails in the middle and I loved that. It was a refreshing way to present a story, but it fit so well with who Twinkle is as a character, and I think that this added more charm to the story. So, points for that.

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What I loved about Twinkle was most definitely her character arc as the story progresses. She starts off as a non – confrontational, meek, shy girl who lets everyone get away with anything, but as the story progresses, we see her standing up for herself and speaking up. I really liked that about her. Like, she didn’t remain the same Twinkle I started reading about in the beginning of the book when the book ended. She grew so much and she experienced so many different things. She made shitty mistakes, there was a period when she really lashed out because of the anger she felt towards everything around her, but then she came to regret it and did everything she could to make things right. She got jealous and angry and overconfident and arrogant through the course of the book and all these emotions were described so well in the story and they did the character justice. It showed how, even though, Twinkle is a good person at heart, she can be vindictive and nasty when she wants to be.

This narrative gave Twinkle the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them like any other teenager does and I loved that. I mean, as teenagers, we’ve all done stuff that we later regretted, or later realized that there may have been a better way to go about it all. That is reflected amazingly in Twinkle and I really liked that. She’s messy and confused and uncertain which makes her so much more real and 3 dimensional. I absolutely adored her.

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Then, there’s Sahil, the love interest. Originally, Twinkle had her heart set on dating Sahil’s hotter brother, Neil, because of reasons that had nothing to actually do with Neil (I absolutely loved what her motivation behind wanting to date him was), but she starts hanging out with Sahil when they work on making a movie together and then fall for each other. Sahil is such an amazing guy. He’s sweet and understanding and really, really, really cute. He makes Twinkle swoon a lot and I love that. He’s also a little shy and dorky, but just plain awesome.

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What I loved most about their romance was how they actually understood each other on a deeper level. They’re both passionate about movies, but it’s so much more than that. Sahil sees Twinkle’s vision, he understands who she is as a filmmaker and as a person and Twinkle sees Sahil for who he is and appreciates him for himself. It’s really significant because they’re both dealing with ‘visibility’ issues, so it’s really important for them that someone likes them as they are.

The romance is cute and fluffy and just so adorable. They made me go awwwww several times through the book and I absolutely loved that. Also, the slow burn and mutual pining was just so goooooodddd! I mean, I love me some slow burn, especially when it’s handled well and Sandhya does it best. I mean, all the pining was getting to me a lot and there were times that I just wanted to shout at them to just get together already because they’d be so perfect together.

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The secondary characters in this were also amazing and the complex relationships between everyone were shown so nicely. There’s Twinkle’s best friend, Maddie (she’s Japenese American!) who is also sort of not her best friend now, cause she’s started hanging out with the popular crowd. She still talks to Twinkle regularly and they hang out on occasion, but earlier, they used to spend all their time together and so, Twinkle hates it that her best friend doesn’t deem her worthy of attention anymore. All their interactions were so shown really well and I could see the struggle they were going through. There were times that I absolutely abhorred Maddie for the way she was with Twinkle, but there were times that I loved how supportive and nice she was being. Their friendship was depicted so nicely with all these layers and everything happening around them affected them so much and it was just a pleasure to see people struggling so much with friendships. I mean, generally, all books show the supportive best friend who is there for the main lead throughout the narrative no matter what happens, but that wasn’t the case here. And it was realistic and relatable, because everyone goes through rough patches in friendships and it’s not all sunshine and roses. So, yay for that!

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The family dynamics in this one were also complicated. Twinkle’s parents were always busy with one thing or the other and don’t have much time for her. She feels the neglect all the time and it hurts her how her parents don’t support her filmmaking. It’s the one thing in life that’s important to Twinkle, but her parents don’t ever have the time for it. Also, they’re poor immigrants and money situation doesn’t help matters. I absolutely applaud Sandhya for being so forthcoming about poverty issues, because not everyone can afford all the luxuries – Twinkle doesn’t even have a cellphone. It is shown in such a way that we never think that Twinkle is whining about it, but it also forms a part of who she is and why she reacts to certain situations in certain ways. She’s definitely embarrassed more than once because of her mobile phone situation.

I identify very closely with Twinkle with respect to her household situation (more like her parents situation) because Desi parents aren’t exactly known for letting their kids pursue their artistic passions. They’ll all be very happy if their kids are doctors or engineers or accountants, but when you start saying stuff like films, media, books – it’s all a big no no and they’ll do everything in their power to steer you away from it.

Then, there’s Dadi – aka her grandmother, her dad’s mom – who I absolutely adore. She’s the single most important person in Twinkle’s life and she supports Twinkle in everything she does. She dotes on her granddaughter as best as she can and she’s always there when Twinkle needs someone. She’s also very eccentric and superstitious like most grandmas I know, which makes her all the more real for me. I absolutely love her!

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There are other secondary characters like – Skid and Aaron (who is gay and black), Sahil’s best friends, Brij (another Indian), Matthew (bi), Victoria, who I absolutely adore to the ends of the earth, and Hannah, who I didn’t like much throughout the story, but who’s motivations did make sense once it was explained to me towards the end of the book.

Overall, this book is great and you should go read it because, SO MUCH LOVE, OKAY?

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sandhya-menon-author-photoMy name is Sandhya Menon, and I’m a New York Times and national indie bestselling author. I write books for teens (and those who still feel like teens inside!). I live by the mountains in Colorado, where I’m on a mission to (gently) coerce my husband, son, and daughter to watch all 3,221 Bollywood movies I claim as my favorite. Also, I love my pets a little too much, as you can probably tell.

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2 thoughts on “From Twinkle, With Love, Sandhya Menon – Book Review

  1. IM SO GLAD YOU LOVED IT TOO!! Gosh From Twinkle, With Love is one of my favorite books of ALL TIME. Spoiler Alert: I ordered this month’s Owlcrate and it will have a special edition of the book😍 Great review! I agreed on everything you said hun!

    Liked by 1 person

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