Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 3 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Maybe
Favorite Quotes: “I wanted people to see me, to like me for who I was and what I had to offer. I wanted to use my talent to transform people’s lives and how they saw the world.”
“It’s never happened. But there are people out there, people 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?”
Summary (via Goodreads):
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.
This book was a lot to take in and has left me feeling torn about what to make of it.
I picked up this book because it sounded interesting (first book I’ve read of Sandhya Menon’s) and I’d never read a book where the MC was aspiring to become a filmmaker as a young Indian-American woman. I thought that sounded awesome.
In terms of the obstacles Twinkle faces, this is one of those stories where, as the saying goes, things get worse before they get better. And they do get worse and worse. So much that it made me an anxious reader while openly yelling things like “NO!” and “That’s not a good idea!” and “Think. Think. Think!” and “I can’t watch.”
There’s a lot of teenage drama, clicks, unrequited love, and social angst. Twinkle’s dwindling friendship with (formerly sister BFF) Maddie is also a major source of contention. Everything was too much sometimes. Perhaps there were too many issues going on that pulled the reader’s attention every which way despite it all being connected.
I liked how flawed Twinkle (and pretty much everyone else, except Dadi, Twinkle’s grandmother, really) and how strong and direct her voice is. For the teen characters, the biggest flaw is their insecurities: Twinkle feeling invisible and not good enough to be noticed at school and home; Sahil always being compared to his star-athlete star-academic twin brother. I think this heightens what Twinkle seeks to accomplish with her film (and future films) as well as the overall theme of the book about finding one’s voice and being able to share that voice with others (as well as the importance of telling underrepresented voices/stories).
There are times while reading when I was like, “Twinkle seems like she’s got a good head on her shoulders and is a really passionate person.” Then other times I was like, “Why, Twinkle, why would you do that?”, whenever her rational fled when deeper emotions took over. Also, I thought it ill-advised that she blindly believed that “N” had to be Neil – her crush who she’s had (so it appears) very little interaction/conversation with and knows nothing about. That would have been (reluctantly) fine if she also, logically, thought the email could well be a dangerous stranger on the internet or a troll cat-fishing her. “N” got her email from the school’s directory, so “N” being a student is more likely but still! Not once does she think “stranger danger,” even a little. I find that incredibly impossible. Also, it wasn’t hard to figure out the true identity of “N” but I was somewhat surprised by the why of it.
I like that Twinkle tells the story through letters to her favorite female filmmarkers in diary format. When she’s directly talking to them her passion comes through. I also like that her choice of the film she adapts for the festival, even if I haven’t ever seen it. I’d watch her version of it though.
I loved Sahil. Perhaps too perfect of a character? Maybe – he certainly wouldn’t think so. But he’s just a bright light in this crazy mess of high school drama. And I like that he too takes steps to be seen, to be heard in a way that is unique to him. He does it better than Twinkle by fa,r but everyone takes a different path to get to such a grounded place.
As dramatic as this book was, I think Sandhya Menon is a fantastic writer. There were lots of phrases whose diction was so amazing and seemingly effortlessly written. I thought it genius for her to have Twinkle describe her social status as “groundlings” versus the “silk feathered hats” (aka the rich and popular crowd) from Shakespearean days at the theater. She took something (super) old and made it feel fresh and new. Loved it.
The ending made me kind of emotional and happy. No storm lasts forever. When the clouds finally cleared things felt changed. Maybe a little to sugary sweet of an ending but good nonetheless.
Based on all that, I’m left conflicted about my overall impression of the book. It was too much drama but not bad. Inspiring in many ways at its core. And a talented writer at the helm.