Last year, I was surprised and delighted by When Dimple Met Rishi. It was such a refreshing and adorable YA romance. I was excited about Sandhya Menon and the way she represented strong, independent, intelligent women growing up in households of Indian immigrants. I loved the way she described the balance between old cultures and new, and the way both Dimple and Rishi respected the old ways while trying to invent their own.
I was thrilled when I got this book in a package from work. I couldn’t wait to read it. I assumed I would LOVE IT, and that I would fall in love with Twinkle the way I loved Dimple.
And, oh boy, I did not.
Twinkle’s story is this: she lives with her parent and her grandmother on the “wrong side of the tracks” of her wealthy Colorado town. She goes to a prestigious private school, and is afraid that she’s losing her best friend to a group of more popular, wealthier girls. She’s been carrying a torch for handsome Neil Roy FOREVER, but he hasn’t noticed her. Yet. And Twinkle plans to grow up and become a powerful voice in women’s film. She wants to be the next Mira Nair. Or Sofia Coppola. Or Ava DuVernay. Sounds good!
But really, this is pretty messy. In fact, I’m thinking that maybe this was written before Dimple…and just released after it was a success. Its still cute, but it isn’t great.
Twinkle, with the help of Neil Roy’s geeky identical twin brother, Sahil, decides to make a movie for the end of the school year talent contest (or something? It isn’t really clear.). They decide to make a gender swapped version of the original 1931 version of Dracula, and then everyone will see what a great filmmaker Twinkle is, and Twinkle will realize that Sahil has been in love with her for years, and the cool kids will accept her, and the world will be a perfect place.
There are a few big problems with this plan:
First, Twinkle is really kind of a horrible person. I get that she’s been dumped by her best friend, and she struggles with being poor, but she has some really nasty scenes here that I found unforgivable.
Second, her film making process seems to be missing many steps. All of the steps. They decide to make a movie, they go get costumes, and then they shoot it. Who wrote the script? Who blocked it? I know Twinkle filmed it and Sahil produced it, but…um…I think some other stuff has to happen, right? She just filmed it and then it existed on the screen.
Third, this is high school. A talent show movie isn’t going to bring media and local tv stations to watch. There is ABSOLUTELY no way that a movie SHOWN IN A HIGH SCHOOL would lead to an international scholarship and national interviews. I DO NOT ACCEPT THIS.
The most annoying thing in this book was that the entire thing was told in journal entries. They were so ridiculously unbelievable. Oh, Sahil ran to the bathroom so let me just write down these four pages of what happened to us tonight. NOPE.
Sure, the love story was cute and all. But Sahil was way too good for Twinkle.
But there was one thing I loved. Each journal entry was addressed to a different female filmmaker that inspired Twinkle. And one of them was to my friend, DeMane Davis! That was super cool. And DeMane had no idea! If you don’t know DeMane, she directs a lot of episodes of the fabulous Queen Sugar on OWN, she hangs out with Ava DuVernay, and she’s generally amazing and awesome. I hope her inclusion in this novel brings her a lot of new fans, and that each and every one of them is inspired by her awesomeness.