Genre: Romance, Young Adult, Contemporary
Trigger warnings: alcohol, arson, parent with cancer, anxiety, strained relationship with parents, unplanned pregnancy mention, gentrification
Summary: Pinky Kumar is spending the summer with her parents and cousin’s family in their summer vacation home. After only a few hours of her mother’s judgement in close quarters and the constant comparison to her perfect, but actually very sweet, cousin Dolly, Pinky decides she needs a buffer in the form of a perfect fake boyfriend.
Samir Jha was about to have the most perfect summer with an internship at a law firm in D.C. but due to unforeseen circumstances it is cancelled last minute. Instead of going back home, Samir decides to take Pinky up on her ridiculous offer to be her fake boyfriend in lieu of going home to his protective mother.
Pinky’s ideal summer takes a blow when she learns that her beloved butterfly garden is going to get demolished. Her relaxing summer has now turned into a mission to save a place that holds some beloved childhood memories. Samir’s just along for the ride but also is using this fake dating shtick to potentially get an internship at Pinky’s mother’s law firm.
Pinky and Samir have never liked each other. She thinks he’s uptight. He thinks she’s A Lot. Will they survive the summer and achieve their goals without strangling each other out of frustration? Or are more romantic things afoot?
Y’all I think I’m getting better at summary writing :D:D:D
10 Things I Hate About Pinky is the third and final (Dolly deserves a book and her name fits the bill PLEASE Sandhya!!!!) book in the Dimpleverse. We got a glorious collection of summery YA romances centered around Indian American teenagers finding a sense of self and accidentally stumbling into the most perfect romance ever. Sandhya Menon is the goddess who keeps on giving 🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺. We do not deserve🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺
We’ve got a layered narrative here: Taming of the Shrew inspired the modern adaptation Ten Things I Hate About You which in turn was the muse for Pinky’s book. There are a few similar aspects like Pinky’s righteous fury, a soft and girly sibling, and a strapping young lad who is reluctant at first to spend time with a spitfire girl but eventually falls in love. The story still has a life of its own. While the foundations are based in some beloved classics, the characters, the background, the FEEL of this book is quintessential Sandhya Menon.
The rest of my review is going to be very character heavy since I found that to be the main plot pushers. Does that make sense? This is a character driven book. That’s what I wanted to say. smh
Pinky is such a mood. She’s far more proactive than I ever was but I could see myself in her raging fury at the world and frustration that her parents were always finding fault in everything she does. Poor girl. She felt like a teenager with a mission but like she was exaggerating her actions to get some attention from her mother. Her pain was evident every time she was dismissed or compared to her cousin. The pain was tangible and I really felt for her. Yet, she was incredibly inspiring and loving. Her affection for her cousin Dolly, the anxious rescue opossum Drama Queen, and the slow build of feelings for Samir were so on brand for someone putting up a hard exterior but is absolute butter on the inside.
Samir clocked her really early on: Pinky doesn’t want to get hurt when she isn’t the one provoking retaliation. She is someone who feels the need to fight before a fight happens just to throw the first punch. All fights come from her expecting a fight and acting first. Her character development was in response to that. It was painful work for her which is on brand. For someone who is hell bent on giving people a reason to dislike her, she really had to learn to see multiple perspectives and not take people letting her down as a personal attack.
I love love love love love Pinky. Not to compare all my Dimpleverse ladies, but Pinky takes the cake for me.
From the very first moment Samir was on the page, I was obsessed with him. This little dorky high schooler was on a mission to make a change but got thwarted due to sheer bad luck. Even though we’ve only seen a little of him, his decision to join Pinky still had me shaking my head going “oh honey you’re going to regret that.”
Homeboy’s character arc was dependent on him learning to let go of structure and rigorous planning as an anxiety coping mechanism. Pinky calls him on it multiple times and even though it’s never a conscious decision for him to be spontaneous, Pinky really rubs off on him from the get go. Fake dating instead of going home? Who’d’ve thunk it?
Dolly also stole my heart. I’m never a big fan of golden girls who are beloved despite being everyone’s proof of inadequacy. I didn’t really take to her in the beginning especially considering the shit she most definitely didn’t own up to. But then I learnt she’s queer and that for some reason always endears me to even the most unlikeable characters. The gays get some rights no matter how horrible they are (with certain exceptions).Dolly obviously isn’t horrible. She’s a soft angel who wants to give rebellion a real try but fails miserably. How absolutely adorable. Of course, since she’s not the focus of the story she didn’t get the character development I would have liked. Unfortunately, despite Dolly’s name fitting the bill we’re not getting any more Dimpleverse books. Sad sad day folks.
Pinky’s mother is also a formidable character. OOOOOOOOH I felt Pinky’s pain so deeply. Her mother is not too far off from my parents. But just like in my family, a lot of that tension stems from parents not being transparent with their kids. Brown parents have this weird idea that hiding their past ensures that their kids won’t repeat the past. Try again lmao.
Over the course of the book though, Pinky’s mom gets a kernel of character development. Some humanity and vulnerability peeks through after her fall outs with Pinky. I really loved reading the major confrontation between Pinky and her mom because that breaks down the central conflict so well!! It’s a quick resolution but the conversation parses out all the major points of contention and sows the seeds for growth and open conversation for the future. It was a little conveniently wrapped up but this is fiction so I think it fit for the happy ending the book was going for.
I don’t want to go too much into Pinky and Samir’s relationship because so much of their bonding came as a surprise to me. It mirrors a little bit of what happens in 10 Things I Hate About You but these characters are so uniquely crafted that it feels new and refreshing. I won’t say much more but as you know, the basis is fake dating and y’all know how that goes down!!!!!
Let me know your thoughts on the book and if you have feedback on my review leave a comment! Thanks for reading. BYEEEEEE