Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Book Review: Dating Makes Perfect by Pintip Dunn

Dating Makes Perfect

Publisher’s description

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.

Until now.

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 the dating practice that they didn’t get in high school.

In a shocking war on the status quo, her parents now insist that their youngest daughter, Orrawin (aka “Winnie”), must practice fake dating in high school. Under their watchful eyes, of course—and organized based on their favorite rom-coms. ’Cause that won’t end in disaster.

The first candidate? The son of their longtime friends, Mat Songsomboon—arrogant, infuriating, and way too good-looking. Winnie’s known him since they were toddlers throwing sticky rice balls at each other. And her parents love him.

If only he weren’t her sworn enemy.

Amanda’s thoughts

Somehow I have become the sort of person who finishes a really satisfying book and pronounces it “a delight.” So, can you guess how I felt about this book? Yep—it was a delight. I’ve now read two YA books in a row (and countless adult books in recent months) where the two main characters seem like enemies but are actually totally on a path to a happily ever after. And that’s fine. Give me more. The world is a raging nightmare, so if books want to take me to places of happiness, please, take me!

Winnie refers to Mat, her one-time friend, as “Mr. Tall and Pukey.” They haven’t been close for years, but are thrown together when Winnie’s mom decides she should fake-date Mat to get some practice in dating. Have any characters EVER fake-dated and not actually uncovered real feelings for each other? I doubt it. And also, I don’t care. I truly don’t care if something is totally predictable as long as the journey to get me to that predicted ending is enjoyable. From Winnie and Mat’s rom-com movie-inspired dates to their competing bets that the other will end up actually falling in love to all the amazing descriptions of food and festivities, this book nails it all. Winnie has a fantastic and interesting best friend (Kavya), another potential suitor (new boy Taran), and older twin sisters who always care for her and support her, even though they’re now at college. It’s hard for Winnie and Mat to know what’s truth and what’s a trick as they “fake date” and act like they’re only spending time together because they have to, though readers won’t be fooled about their real feelings for even a second. But while their outcome may seem certain, the real question is if Winnie will learn to stand up for herself and what she wants.

This truly fun book revolves around practice-dating, but delves into other issues like the expectations that can come from immigrant parents, obligation versus passion, friendships, and it paints a rich cultural picture of the Thai community Winnie and her family are part of. People like to use the word “cute” in such a dismissive way, like cute must equal something less-than, something not complicated or smart. But this book is cute in all the best ways, from the romance to the conversations to the eventual outcome. A really great and immersive read.

Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher

ISBN-13: 9781682814970
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 08/18/2020
Age Range: 14 – 18 Years