Hey friends! I can’t believe it’s July–this summer has been both hard and weird for me. As a teen services librarian, I’m used to really fast-paced summers because the library is FULL of kids & teens! With our library still being closed and everyone still in quarantine, it’s felt really weird and different. But I’m beyond grateful to have amazing books to get me through this, and the July release that has really brightened up my month is, of course, 10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon! I’m on Sandhya’s street team, also known as Sandhya’s Sweethearts, and am super honored to be participating in the blog tour for the third installment in the Dimpleverse.
Before I get to my review, read on for the summary!
AUTHOR: Sandhya Menon
CATEGORY/AUDIENCE: Young Adult
GENRE: Contemporary, romance
RELEASE: July 21, 2020
PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse
LINKS: Bookshop | Goodreads
Pinky Kumar feels like she can’t quite live up to her perfect, lawyer parents, but she’s passionate about social justice and proud of her ability to create change–however obscure the cause may be. Meanwhile, Samir Jha always has a to-do list, a plan for his future, and a perfectly pressed suit. Samir and Pinky may share a best friend, Ashish, but the two of them are perfectly fine keeping their distance. But when Samir’s summer internship falls through and Pinky needs an upstanding boyfriend to win over her parents, the two concoct a fake-dating scheme to fix both of their problems. They’ve just got to tolerate each other for a few weeks–but they’re definitely not expecting their fake relationship to turn into real feelings.
10 Things I Hate About Pinky is a perfect addition to both the Dimpleverse and the fake-dating YA canon. Pinky sets out to prove to her parents that she doesn’t just date troublemakers, and that she can be responsible, and pretending to date the all-too-perfect Samir plays right into her plan. I absolutely loved reading about Samir and Pinky bickering, and I could practically feel the fire and tension between them. Pinky and Samir couldn’t be more different, and they struggle to admit their budding feelings for each other as they question if they’ll ever fit into each other’s lives. YA rom-com readers who like enemies-to-lovers as well as fake-dating tropes will absolutely adore this novel and be rooting for Samir and Pinky.
Pinky has a complicated relationship with her mom, and she constantly feels like a disappointment. Sandhya handles this complicated mother-daughter relationship with such sensitivity and authenticity. Pinky’s feelings of worrying that she’s letting her parents down, or that she might never live up to their expectations, will hit home for so many teen readers. I loved that Pinky is so sure of who she is, but also still feels out of place and isn’t quite sure where she fits in in her family or the world. The relationship between Pinky and her cousin Dolly was a wonderful addition, too, and I especially enjoyed Dolly’s subplot: Dolly is figuring out who she is and is desperately trying to break free from the perfect-daughter box she’s lived in. I loved PInky and Dolly’s relationship and totally wanted more of Dolly!
Samir is the perfect balance to wild, fierce Pinky. Samir has been caught up in always being organized and following a plan, ever since his mother survived cancer a few years ago. Though not as prominent as the plotline between PInky & her mother, there is an important subplot around Samir’s lasting trauma from this experience. He struggles to come to terms with the lasting pain and pressure to be perfect that he’s been left with since his mother’s health scare. One of my favorite things about 10 Things I Hate About Pinky is that this novel treats mental health with such care; seeking therapy and mental health support is treated as important and valid.
Like the previous novels in the Dimpleverse, the two leads of this novel are Indian-American. Pinky’s dad–her stepfather who has been in her life since early childhood–is Chinese-American (side note: I loved that this novel treats non-biological family relationships as being as real & valid as biological ones!). In terms of other diversity, there are several supporting and background characters who are Latinx, Black, and queer, though Pinky, Samir, and Pinky’s family definitely take center-stage.
It’s no secret that Sandhya Menon is the queen of YA rom-coms, and her fifth novel is just as loveable and swoon-worthy as the four before it. The tension and energy between Pinky and Samir was palpable, and the novel also had the perfect dose of comedy and drama. The Cape Cod setting was so atmospheric and made for the perfect summery romance. Throughout the book, Pinky and Samir set out to save the local butterfly habitat from being razed in favor of fancy new condos. I absolutely loved that Pinky is passionate about nature and fighting for causes she believes in, and this sub-plot worked really well to facilitate the budding romance between her and Samir. As always, Sandhya’s pacing and writing are spot-on.
10 Things I Hate About Pinky is a hilarious, adorable, swoon-worthy YA rom-com that I’ll absolutely be buying for both my personal collection and for my library. It will be a hit with fans of the Dimpleverse, but can also work perfectly well as a stand-alone for readers looking for fake-dating romance like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before or Analee, In Real Life. Pinky and Samir were both so passionate, authentic, and felt like real people. This treasure of a romance is full of swoon, butterflies, family, identity, summer love, and maybe even a possum–but you’ll have to read it to find out about that. Whether you’re a fan of Sandhya’s or are totally new to her work, 10 Things I Hate About Pinky is a summer romance you won’t want to miss.
Thank you to Sandhya Menon & Simon Pulse for the digital review copy!