3 stars

“She refused to be one of those girls who gave up on everything they’d been planning simply because a boy entered the picture.”

Sandhya Menon, When Dimple Met Rishi

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Shuster for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review!

Pinky is known for being reckless. Every year, her family attends a summer home on the East Coast with her aunt, uncle, and perfect cousin, Dolly. As tensions rise between Pinky and her mother, Pinky can’t help but feel as if her parents would be better off if she was more like Dolly. After a mysterious accident happens at the summer home and she is immediately wrongly accused by her mother, Pinky claims that she has a perfect boyfriend back home who has changed her reckless ways. Meanwhile, Samir is everything Pinky’s parents would want in a son-in-law. After his D.C. internship unexpectedly falls through, leaving his summer schedule completely open, Pinky convinces Samir to spend the summer with her family as her fake boyfriend.

Let me start off by saying I had extremely high hopes for this book. I loved When Dimple Met Rishi with all my heart (full review here) and the premise of this book sounded so incredible. Who doesn’t love a fun fake-dating trope? Even though this book had its adorable, romantic moments, there were some things that brought its rating down to a 3 star for me.

The part of this book that bothered me the most had to have been the characters. In When Dimple Met Rishi, I fell in love with the two main love interests and were rooting for them the whole time. In this book, I didn’t really grow attached to either Samir or Pinky.

Pinky is extremely hard headed and is very opinionated. Usually, this isn’t something I would mind, but it was so excessive in my opinion. I understand why the author did this, but in my opinion it made Pinky quite annoying to read about. I felt like every time somebody said anything in Pinky’s proximity (even if the comment wasn’t directed towards her), she somehow found a way make the comment seem as if the person was attacking her personally. This isn’t just with her mom, but also with Samir, Dolly, her aunt, and Cash. However, Pinky is a girl who stands up for what she believes in, and I respected that. I just felt like she was extremely over-dramatic and twisting every conversation to make it about her (even if it wasn’t). If I’m being honest, it felt like I was reading about a middle school girl.

For most of the novel, I didn’t feel one way or another about Samir. I thought he seemed sweet and since his mother had just recovered from cancer, I sympathized with him. I did think his character was a bit boring at times, but I didn’t start disliking him until the last few chapters. I can’t really go into why because it is spolier-y, but he did something towards the end that brought this rating down as well. The author does redeem him, but I was still bitter.

I also was not really invested in the “saving the butterfly conservatory” plot line. It was just something else I felt like Pinky was blowing up and taking as a personal attack. It seemed like the author needed to give Pinky some sort of summer project, and this just happened to be something she could use. I didn’t care if the conservatory was saved or if it got shut down, I honestly just wanted to stop hearing Pinky ramble on about it.

Lastly, I felt like the ending was drawn out, but very rushed at the same time. The story could have ended about 40-50 pages sooner and I would have been fine with it, however I felt like the resolution between Pinky and her mother was so rushed. The entire book describes the constant struggle between the two, yet it is “resolved” in a few paragraphs in the last chapter. I felt like it had the potential to be a really powerful mother-daughter moment but instead was just kind of skimmed over.

That being said, the reason I can’t rate it lower than 3 stars is because this was a cute summer love story. The romance was a slow burn and for the most part I found it more believable than other YA novels. And of course, I can’t write a review without mentioning the great representation in this novel. The main characters in the novel are all Indian-American and the novel also features a f/f power couple as well. This is still definitely worth a try if you liked Sandhya Menon’s other novels.

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