Passionate and uproarious Pinky Kumar may be protesting, fundraising, and using her voice for good, but that’s not winning her any points with her corporate lawyer mother. Pinky’s riot grrl flair doesn’t always come across as contained or pleasant, after all. Homeschooled and carefully monitored Samir Jha has been the apple of his mother’s eye for many years, so much so that he’s thrilled to go away for a summer internship at a prestigious law firm. When that internship is suddenly canceled, his dreams are crushed.
Thankfully, Pinky’s simultaneous epic blowout with her mother leads her to form a brilliant plan: studious, responsible Samir can join her family at their summer house on Cape Cod… as long as he pretends to be her boyfriend and convinces her parents that she’s capable of making at least one decision that they’d find impressive. Once they “break up” at the end of the summer, she’ll help him score an elusive internship at her mother’s law firm. Meanwhile, Samir’s mother will be none the wiser about his nixed internship and he can get away. What could go wrong?!
10 Things I Hate About Pinky marks the first time Sandhya Menon’s Dimpleverse dives into the frenemies-to-lovers waters and it navigates that territory rather successfully. This novel had a little more intrigue and potential for chaos than Menon’s two previous books in the series, while still maintaining the same wit and charm. The story also finds a focal point beyond the dating concept as Pinky and Samir get caught up in an effort to protect a beloved local landmark against real estate developers. The tilt toward spontaneity, the two very different characters working together to find common ground (and maybe something more,) and the added plot line really elevated 10 Things above the rest!
This novel also does a much better job finding the line between realism and sincerity. One of my biggest peeves with the previous books was that the characters tended to spill their guts earnestly and often, in a way that didn’t feel accurate for a mature adult, let alone a teen. 10 Things manages to subvert that trend. Pinky and Samir open up to each other when it’s important, but it isn’t overabundant or grating.
If there’s one criticism I had about the novel, however, it would be that it’s a bit one-sided. We’re surrounded by Pinky’s story and family and other than talking about how his mother’s cancer has affected his need for control, we don’t really dive into Samir’s life. The first that it’s his first summer of freedom isn’t really touched upon, nor is the fact that he’s lying to his mother about where he is the whole time. Pinky’s world is definitely an interesting one that held my interest (there’s a pet opossum, for goodness sake!) but Samir’s more subtle story deserved additional consideration.
10 Things introduces a couple great new characters into the fold, including Pinky’s cousin Dolly, who is her best friend but also her polar opposite– High-achieving, praised, and adored. But Dolly is having a summer all her own as she attempts a little rebellion, with which even Pinky can’t get on board. If the Dimpleverse continues, Dolly is the next logical main character and this novel sets that up well. I also loved Pinky’s hilarious, ultra-competitive dad and even Pinky’s mom, who is more complex than she gets credit for.
If you’ve enjoyed Sanhya Menon’s other novels and love a little bit of unexpected, topsy-turvy summer romance, you’ll have a lot of fun with 10 Things I Hate About Pinky. In fact, the novel stands on its own and you don’t even need to know the other books in the series to read it. I think it’s a great backy read and my favorite of the author’s books so far!
RATING: 4.25 OUT OF 5 STARS
Pinky Kumar wears the social justice warrior badge with pride. From raccoon hospitals to persecuted rock stars, no cause is too esoteric for her to champion. But a teeny-tiny part of her also really enjoys making her conservative, buttoned-up corporate lawyer parents cringe.
Samir Jha might have a few . . . quirks remaining from the time he had to take care of his sick mother, like the endless lists he makes in his planner and the way he schedules every minute of every day, but those are good things. They make life predictable and steady.
Pinky loves lazy summers at her parents’ Cape Cod lake house, but after listening to them harangue her about the poor decisions (aka boyfriends) she’s made, she hatches a plan. Get her sorta-friend-sorta-enemy, Samir—who is a total Harvard-bound Mama’s boy—to pose as her perfect boyfriend for the summer. As they bicker their way through lighthouses and butterfly habitats, sparks fly, and they both realize this will be a summer they’ll never forget.