Saturday, August 1, 2020

Dating Makes Perfect by Pintip Dunn

I haven't read a YA novel for a very long time. Quite honestly, I'm afraid if I start diving into YA, I'll go down a rabbit hole and never come out again! Same goes for children's fiction, too. Sometimes thinking about everything I want to read overwhelms me and I panic and hyperventilate. I kid you not. 

Sometimes, however, the book universe magic happens, and I'm given the opportunity to read a novel that ends up being so utterly charming and lovable it actually changes the course of my reading plans for the rest of the year. In a bizarre, whirly-gig 2020, what's another shift in my universe? So yes, I'll be incorporating YA into the remainder of my 2020 reading choices. 

Dating Makes Perfect had me from the first few pages. I can't say that about a lot of books. Most of the time I have to read about 50 or so pages before I get invested in a story-but Winnie and her family are so engaging I was sucked in immediately. Winnie's older twin sisters are off in their first year of college-and dating a lot. It's a bit of a backfire on Winnie's parents, who forbid their daughters from dating in high school. They wanted to spare their daughters some heartache and also respect their Thai culture. Now Mom wants her daughters to get married and have grandbabies STAT but they've announced since they couldn't date in high school, they're going to spend YEARS dating. Oops. So Mom and Dad have decided Winnie can practice date in high school, so she's ahead of the game when she goes to college.

This is great, only they've picked the young man Winnie has to practice date: Mat. Ugh. Mat and Winnie had been friends all their lives, until about four years before, when suddenly, they went from friends to enemies. And there's a new cute boy who just moved to town that Winnie has her eye on...this could spoil things. 

Mat and Winnie have such great chemistry and they sizzle on the pages. Of course their past friendship break up is based on lack of communication and hurt feelings. Mat's willing to go along with the fake dating so he can take a trip after graduation--a trip that rests on his cooperation. Dates are pretty simple: driving Winnie home from school, meeting her at a local festival, accompanying Winnie clothes shopping. However, as they spend more time together, it's apparent both have deep feelings for each other. Can they untangle those feelings and repair their broken friendship? How can Winnie reconcile her feelings for Mat with her desire to obey her parents and be a good Thai girl? 

I absolutely loved the incorporation of Thai culture into the story. I appreciated reading about a first generation Thai-American and the difficulty in navigating honored traditions and modern life. Winnie grows by leaps and bounds in this novel, from a young woman who is afraid to go against her parent's wishes, to a young woman who owns her voice and shows her family and Mat just what she wants. Heck yes, I even got a little sniffly a few times. 

This novel will be published in August in the U.S. I've already talked to a few co-workers about how much I loved it, and I will certainly be recommending it to friends and family. 

A big thank you to Entangled and NetGalley for an advanced reader's copy. 

Rating: 5/6 for a completely delightful novel full of characters you will fall in love with very quickly. The weaving of Thai culture with modern American life was so good! I will definitely read more of Pintip Dunn. The chemistry between Winnie and Mat was palpable, and their romance was realistic and full of humor, tears, and great conversations. 

Available in August in paperback, audio, and ebook. 

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