Title: From Twinkle, With Love
Author: Sandhya Menon
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Epistolary
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.
Content Warnings: Bullying
Okay, listen. I liked When Dimple Met Rishi. There were some stuff I disliked about it, but overall, I thought it was cute, feel-good, and a worthy addition to my bookshelf.
From Twinkle, With Love totally blows When Dimple Met Rishi out of the water, hands down, no questions asked.
Twinkle Mehra, aspiring filmmaker, starts to keep a journal where she addresses her entries to famous female filmmakers (I spotted my personal favorites, Sofia Coppola and Ava DuVernay). Through her diary, we learn about her futile crush on campus hottie and star athlete Neil Roy; her attempts to become a “silk feathered hat” as opposed to a “groundling” (plus points for the Shakespeare references); the film she’s making for the Summer Festival, a gender-swapped Dracula starring the popular kids that she dislikes; and her interactions with the adorable film nerd Sahil Roy, who just happens to be Neil’s twin brother. I just could not put this book down!
First, let’s talk about Twinkle. I absolutely adored her as a character, you guys – like, would sell my soul to keep her safe and sound at all times level of adoration. She feels so real. You just know there are tons of desi girls across America who are almost or even exactly like her. I also love her dedication to female filmmakers, and to becoming a presence in filmmaking not just for her own sake, but so that other brown girls can see themselves in the industry. Girl is a role model, y’all. Diversity matters!
Another thing I loved about Twinkle was that her character development is so well-written. You see Twinkle really come into her own, grow both as a filmmaker and as a person, and revise her understanding of the people around her. I think Twinkle’s character development is one of the best that I’ve ever seen in contemporary young adult fiction.
Although I found Twinkle and Sahil’s relationship adorable and squeal-worthy, I have to say it wasn’t really the main focus of the book for me. That said, I love Sahil as a character. I think on some level everyone can relate to Sahil’s feelings of being overshadowed by a more famous twin brother. Despite this, Sahil remains a sweet, friendly, adorkable and generally all-around good guy. There’s this particular scene that I love where Twinkle stands up to Sahil because he completely disregarded everything she was saying, and she tells him that that hurt her feelings and really made her angry. And Sahil listens to her, and sincerely apologizes. Hooray for boys knowing to step back and listen to a girl who knows better!
The book deals with some very important themes: feminism, mental health, family sacrifices, bullying, and friendship. I could write forever and ever about all the deeply significant things that happens during Twinkle’s journey towards making her first film. Her mother feeling depressed at the death of her own mother and Twinkle feeling rejected by her parents, the sacrifices Twinkle’s parents made so that they could live in America, the necessity of female filmmakers – especially WOC filmmakers, the bullying that comes as a result of the bully’s own insecurity, Twinkle and her best friend Maddie drifting apart but then slowly coming back together despite their differences, and Twinkle learning that appearances are deceiving and there’s more to even her “silk feathered hat” classmates – all of it is so amazingly written, I’m kind of in awe of Sandhya right now.
Also, can I just say that I appreciate how Twinkle didn’t release the video she made of her popular classmates’ “confessions”? I’ve seen that Mean Girls plot device used way too many times in every single iteration of teen fiction ever, and I love how Sandhya decided not to go down that route. Instead, Twinkle learns that revenge is not a road she wants to start on. Twinkle learns about forgiveness, and about integrity, which at the end of the day are more important lessons than getting even.
I’m absolutely blown away by this book and urge everyone to read it, especially those who didn’t like When Dimple Met Rishi. Sandhya has really grown as an author and I can’t wait to see what’s next!