I didn’t review them on my blog, but I really enjoyed Pintip Dunn’s Girl on the Verge and Malice (both thrillers featuring Thai American characters), so I’m excited to be a part of the blog tour for Dating Makes Perfect, her latest book, hosted by Hear Our Voices Book Tours.
Title: Dating Makes Perfect
Author: Pintip Dunn
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Release Date: August 18, 2020
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
The Tech sisters don’t date in high school. Not because they’re not asked. Not because they’re not interested. Not even because no one can pronounce their long, Thai last name—hence the shortened, awkward moniker. But simply because they’re not allowed.
In a move that other Asian American girls know all too well, six months after the older Tech twins got to college, their parents asked, “Why aren’t you engaged yet?” The sisters retaliated by vowing that they won’t marry for ten (maybe even twenty!) years, not until they’ve had lots of dating practice.
In a shocking war on the status quo, her parents now insist that their youngest daughter, Orrawin (aka “Winnie”), must date in high school. Under their watchful eyes, of course — and on dates they organize based on their favorite rom-coms. The first candidate? The son of their longtime friends, Mat Songsomboon—arrogant, dreamy, and infuriating.
Winnie’s known him since they were toddlers throwing sticky rice balls at each other. Her parents love him, so naturally he’s the perfect person for her to pretend date.
If only he weren’t her sworn enemy.
I really love the cover for this book, and I’m happy to say that the story lived up to the expectations set by the cover.
Winnie was a lot of fun to follow because her character voice really animated the story. The reader is fully immersed in her head, experiencing the joys and pains of first love, the highs and lows of adolescence, the hopes and fears that drive Winnie’s decisions. She struggles to assert herself, inhibited by insecurities, and that aspect of her personality and character arc really resonated with me because I had a similar struggle when I was her age.
If you love childhood friends to enemies to lovers as a trope, then you’ll probably enjoy the romance in this book. It’s full of electric-charged romantic tension and barely suppressed yearning. Beyond simply physical attraction, Winnie and Mat have a long shared history together that complicates their feelings for each other. This is as much a story about rekindling friendship as it is a romance. Moreover, Mat plays an important role in pushing Winnie to be honest and communicative about her desires.
Central to the conflict and character development is Winnie’s family, her relationships with her parents and with her sisters. The love they share is evident in their interactions, which are a mix of good-humored teasing and more serious discussions. Even as Winnie defies some of her parents rules, she does try to understand where they are coming from and fears losing their love. While she adores her sisters, she also feels trapped in their shadow and unable to shine on her own. These complex feelings enrich the narrative.
One of my favorite aspects of this book is its celebration of Winnie’s heritage. It’s a love letter to the food, the language, and the traditions of Thai culture. Winnie’s narration is loaded with cultural references that lend it a unique texture, which is the kind of thing that I love about own voices books. Thai culture is an inextricable part of Winnie’s identity and facilitates her bonding with Mat as well as Taran, the rival love interest who is also Thai American. Her culture isn’t an obstacle to overcome or a burden to relinquish.
Last but not least, I really enjoyed how the author sprinkled in references to contemporary Asian American media, including To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Never Have I Ever, and Always Be My Maybe. Each reference felt like a special Easter egg for me as someone who’s watched all of the films/shows mentioned and knew exactly what it was alluding to. It’s always fun when pieces of media are in conversation with each other, even peripherally.
About the Author:
I’m a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. I graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B., and received my J.D. at Yale Law School.
My novel FORGET TOMORROW won the 2016 RWA RITA® for Best First Book, and SEIZE TODAY won the 2018 RITA for Best Young Adult Romance. In addition, my books have been translated into four languages, and they have been nominated for the following awards: the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire; the Japanese Sakura Medal; the MASL Truman Award; the Tome Society It list; the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award; and a Kirkus Reviews Best Indie Book of the Year. My other novels include REMEMBER YESTERDAY, THE DARKEST LIE, GIRL ON THE VERGE, STAR-CROSSED, and MALICE.