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From Twinkle, with Love | Sandhya Menon | Review

Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen.

Told as a series of diary entry letters to her favourite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, With Love follows Twinkle Mehra, a high school student with big plans for her future. Twinkle wants to be a film director and make films that will change the world. She also wants to change herself. Twinkle wants to be the shiny new future Twinkle and she wants to be that person right now, someone who her old best friend, Maddie, will want to spend time with again, and who the other students in her year won't ignore any more. Twinkle wants to be seen and the first person she wants to see her is her long time crush, Neil Roy. If she could get Neil to go out with her then she would definitely be one of the in crowd and get to spend time with Maddie again.

So when Neil's twin brother, Sahil, asks Twinkle to make a movie with him that the whole school will see, she jumps at the chance. A chance to direct her first ever feature film, to get closer to Neil through Sahil, and for everyone else to see what she can do. It all seems to fit together so perfectly, until Twinkle begins to realise that getting back her friendship with Maddie might not be as easy as she hoped, and that there is a little more than sibling rivalry between Neil and Sahil, and she might be falling for the wrong brother. 

Twinkle is a girl who knows exactly what she wants for her future, it's her present that is a little more confusing. In many ways, the relationship at the heart of this book is not between Twinkle and any boy, but between her and her best friend, Maddie. Twinkle's despair at her best friend finding a new group of friends who don't really get Twinkle is something that I'm sure a lot of teenagers will relate to, and it's great to see a teen story in which friendship is the driving force behind much of the action. Even Twinkle's crush on Neil, and her reluctance to fall for his brother, Sahil, are largely down to the fact that she thinks Maddie's new friends will accept her if she's Neil's girlfriend. It's not a great reason to date someone, but that's something Twinkle has to learn herself.

Twinkle makes a lot of mistakes, in fact, not just thinking that Neil is her ticket to being Maddie's best friend again, but she learns from every one of them, and that's a great thing to see in a story like this. Twinkle becomes so focused on what this film could mean for her that she forgets about the friends she's making along the way, and when Twinkle lets her pride in her film go to her head and she starts to treat her actors a little less than kindly, she soon learns that being good at something is no excuse to treat other people badly, and that there are right and wrong ways for a film to make an impact. Given that the film is such a crucial part of the story's plot, it's a shame that the reader doesn't experience more of the scenes actually being shot, but the real story here is in Twinkle's relationships, not least the strained ones she has with her parents, who never seem to be around for her in the way that she wants them to be.

Twinkle is a girl with a lot of ambition, and this is truly a story of her making mistakes and learning how to fix them, and that's a plot I can get behind. The fact that she makes some excellent friends and gets to have a heartwarming romance, while she gets a head start on making her dreams come true, is just icing on an already delicious cake. 

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