Here are short reviews of two sweet romance-focused teen books – one contemporary with an Indian-American heroine, and one futuristic time travel with a same-sex romance.
From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon. Simon & Schuster, 2018. 978-1481495400
This companion to When Dimple Met Rishi introduces us to high schooler Twinkle Mehra, an aspiring filmmaker. She’s been having issues with her best friend, Maddie Tanaka, who’s been hanging with a way more popular crowd than Twinkle would ever want to, even if she could be accepted in it (which would never happen.) And she has a crush on cute, athletic, and popular Neal, not realizing that his geekier twin Sahil has an equally unrequited crush on her. But when she has a chance to work with Sahil to make the movie of her dreams – a gender-swapped Dracula movie – Twinkle jumps at it, forcing her to take a fresh look at all of her assumptions. Twinkle is a well-rounded character, with a house full of interesting characters, including a depressed mother, a dad who spends more time working at a teen center than with his own teen, and a certified hippie grandmother. This is a delightful book, focused on romance as part of self-discovery rather than as a goal in itself. Fans of these books will also want to read There’s Something about Sweetie, which I will also get to someday.
The Last Beginning by Lauren James. Sky Pony Press, 2016. 978-1510710221
I read this book based on Charlotte’s recommendation. It’s the sequel to The Next Together, which I haven’t read, but as it has different main characters, I didn’t feel lost.
The year is 2056, and 16-year-old Clove Sutcliff has a massive crush on her best friend Meg. She’s mortified when Meg rejects her advances, but forgets her soon enough as she starts having time travel adventures, and meets a mysterious girl named Ella. When Clove discovers that the people she’s been raised by aren’t her real parents, and that her parents are wanted fugitives who disappeared after disclosing a dirty government secret, she and Ella set out to find them, with the help of Clove’s AI Spart. I didn’t really buy the science aspects of the science fiction – that cloning would work as reincarnation – but it was still a sweet romance, with bits of emails and text conversation between future Clove and Ella even as we’re watching the beginning of their relationship in the present, and the travel and puzzle solving were fun.