16 May / From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon [in Shelf Awareness]
At 16, Twinkle Mehra is the youngest junior at her Colorado Springs charter high school. She doesn’t have a cell phone and she can’t drive because she doesn’t have her license (nor a car). Twinkle knows “[s]ome might call people like [her] losers,” but Twinkle prefers the term “groundlings” – channeling the poor who stood in front of Shakespeare’s stages, unlike the privileged in their “silk feathered hats” comfortably seated at a distance. For much of her life, being “Invisible Twinkle,” even “disposable wallflower Twinkle,” hasn’t been all bad, especially since she had Maddie Tanaka as her best friend. But now that Maddie has left her to join the silk-hatted, Twinkle has plenty of time to figure out why Maddie feels she’s not “BFF material” anymore. Somehow, she’s going to transform herself into “someone people recognize, maybe even someone who tells stories others want to hear.”
For as long as she can remember, Twinkle has wanted to be a filmmaker. She’s even crafted her own “mission statement” (with Maddie’s encouragement): “to change lives with my films and show the world what a Desi girl can do.” With the school’s “biggest event of the year,” the Midsummer Night festival, approaching, Twinkle gets her chance to take the director’s chair. She finds her ideal producer in film critic-wannabe Sahil Roy, who happens to be the brother – genetically a twin, socially so different – of the boy Twinkle has been crushing on forever. Her actors are the same kids who barely ever noticed her; her sets the homes and parties she’s never been invited to before. In just three weeks, Twinkle will make her film debut … with, of course, plenty more drama behind the scenes. Difficult truths and painful accusations will need to be resolved, new alliances will be made, secret admirers will be unmasked, and Dracula and other monsters will all need to be confronted (and tamed).
India-born, Colorado resident Sandhya Menon’s (When Dimple Met Rishi) second teen rom-com, From Twinkle, with Love, clearly celebrates the influence of her self-confessed “steady diet of Bollywood movies,” as revealed in her author bio. She transfers her filmi devotion to the page as Twinkle tells her story through journal entries addressed to her “fave female filmmakers”; Menon also highlights Hollywood’s shameful 7% female directorial representation, further emphasizing that “[i]f you factor in race, that number goes way down.” Between Twinkle’s entries, Menon inserts Sahil’s confessional blog and his texts to his best friends, along with mysterious e-mails Twinkle receives from a fan calling himself “N.” While Twinkle’s is clearly the directing voice, Menon makes sure she gets a diverse, committed supporting cast and crew to help her sparkle and shine.
Shelf Talker: 16-year-old Twinkle Menon goes from being virtually invisible to commanding the spotlight when she makes her debut film with a crew of unexpected new friends.
Readers: Young Adult