If you’re ready for summer reading fun, Sandhya Menon’s latest young adult novel, 10 Things I Hate About Pinky, features an ocean of fun and a mountain of love. The novel is the second companion book to her wildly successful When Dimple Met Rishi.
Pinky Kumar, the unicorn-haired, unapologetic social justice warrior, is spending the summer at the family place on Cape Cod with her parents, aunt, uncle, and perfect cousin, Dolly. Her mother—a high-profile lawyer whose nickname in West Coast legal circles is The Shark—ironically declares Pinky guilty before proven innocent regarding everything. Plus, Pinky sees her cousin as competition and no wonder. Dolly is known as a wholesome and generous humanitarian who never gives her parents trouble (like Pinky) or makes bad decisions (like Pinky), and Pinky’s mother never fails to freely criticize each of Pinky’s faults.
Meanwhile, Samir Jha’s pathway to becoming exactly the attorney he wants to be is unencumbered by virtue of by-the-book, precise planning. However, when he arrives for Day One of his summer internship at a prestigious D.C. law firm, he learns the internship has been canceled. His life’s plan is shattered in one promising-turned-lousy morning.
Distraught, Samir texts his best friend who in turn, texts his friend Pinky. Samir’s a colossal nerd and Pinky disregards the message. Soon afterward, The Shark accuses Pinky of burning down the shed with some random summer boyfriend, and Pinky impulsively blurts out with her (truthful) denial that she already has a boyfriend (not currently). Trapped by her own lie, Pinky knows she’ll either have to admit the truth or … wait a minute! She realizes Samir may prove to be the answer. Pinky convinces Samir to come to Cape Cod for the summer and pretend to be her boyfriend by promising she’ll get her mother to give him a winter internship.
With Samir’s arrival, myriad obstacles and trials while maintaining the fake relationship around her family propel the story. Pinky also uncovers a secret about Dolly, rescues a baby opossum that she treats as a pet, and finds the fake dating issue to be more than she bargained for. With her signature upbeat writing, Menon has produced yet another enjoyable novel with a strong-willed female protagonist seconded by a likable young man. Plus, this time she has included an applause-worthy subplot concerning positive environmental activism fueled by Pinky, accompanied by Samir and Dolly.
Like all of Menon’s young adult offerings, the happy ending is suitably earned. Her characters, each striving to solidify their place in the world, their families, and their relationships, experience the gamut of victories and failures required to shoulder the weight of responsibility as they mature into adulthood. They also embrace the sheer joy of youth as well as the angsty bits that are often seated in misconception, withheld information, and internalized competition where none truly exists.
Despite being the third book in the “Dimpleverse,” each book stands alone on its own merits. Fans of Menon’s earlier books will love 10 Things I Hate About Pinky and discover there are 10 times as many things to love about her.
Jeanne E. Fredriksen lives in both Carolinas where she is a Books for Youth reviewer for Booklist magazine/American Library Association and a member of WCPE-FM The Classical Station’s Music Education Fund committee. She is working on an assortment of fiction projects.