Title: Dating Makes Perfect
Author: Pintip Dunn
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publishing Date: August 18, 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Own Voices
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 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.
Winnie, also known as Orrawin, is not allowed to date in high school. Just like her elder sisters, who are now allowed to date as they are in University. However, upon checking in, their parents find out that they are actually struggling to date. Hence, Winnie’s fate changes. She is now allowed to date, fake dating. Winnie’s parents picked the worst person ever, her ex-best friend now archnemesis, Mat Songsomboon.
When a blog tour was announced for this book, I was really quite excited and didn’t hesitate to sign up and I am so glad I did. Dating Makes Perfect was really a lovely time. Enemies-to-Lovers is my favorite romance trope, but getting a taste of Friends-to-Enemies-to-Lovers is so much better! The overall pace of the book was really done well, every moment was appreciated, may it be on the romance aspect or a self-discovery aspect. I really loved that this book was not just about the romance, but also showed a close family dynamic which I am living for, and also about searching for a sense of self and belonging.
Winnie was a really pleasant main character, she was the kind of daughter who wanted to please her family, kept a small circle of friends, and was proud of her heritage. Despite being Thai-American, I totally found myself in Winnie when I was younger. My parents also refused to let me date until I got into university, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t in high school anyway (lol). And the pleasing family aspect is always there, as a Southeast Asian, I think this is an aspect of culture that is ever present and I really appreciate that this was carried over in the book. The family being supportive is also a favorite aspect of mine. My problem with YA Contemporary is that when families don’t get along leaves such a bad taste in my mouth. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel very realistic and it gives an impression to the readers. So, when Pintip Dunn wrote such a healthy family life, that was immediately a huge YES for me. The author also incorporated how Asian children are afraid to speak up in the fear of upsetting or disappointing their children that makes us give white lies. I think this struck such a nerve for me because I used to be like that too, until I learned how parents will always be at your side, they are your alliances and they will always love you no matter what.
The romance aspect in this book was so fun and swoony. Mat is moody, misunderstood, but then he was also secretive. I loved how he showed he cared even if he didn’t want to outright say it. Their dates were also really adorable, I love that Winnie’s mom planned them around popular hollywood movies and Pintip Dunn put her own twist to it. Watching their relationship unfold was absolutely breathtaking, I was literally gripping the sheets as I was reading. I specially love the parts about writing down a report of what they did on their fake date for the mother to evaluate. Seeing how their friendship unfold, the way and reason they broke apart, then mending it and turning it into something else was just really sweet. Makes me want to wish I had a childhood friend like that.
Finally, I love the Thai representation in the book. Just the mention of food made my mouth water. When Songkran was mentioned and all the food was laid out, I was thrown back to when I would go to Thailand and all the food I was able to try, I specially miss Larb Pla Duk and Cha Yen. The customs of being a conservative girl is also depicted which is really appreciated. Although, not everyone is strictly following this anymore, I personally found it endearing that Winnie is not appalled with her Thai roots and she is willing to understand and still practice them. The Songkran festival was also a delight to read, although I would have loved if there was a moment when they sprayed each other with water.
If you’re looking for a light, fun, and great summer read, I highly recommend Dating Makes Perfect. The romance will keep you on your toes, mixed in with Thai culture and a character who is looking for her place in her world.
Thank you to Hear Our Voices book tour for having me host a stop, and to Entangled Teen for a digital copy of the ARC.
Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B., and received her J.D. at Yale Law School.
Her 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, her 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. Her other novels include REMEMBER YESTERDAY, THE DARKEST LIE, GIRL ON THE VERGE, STAR-CROSSED, and MALICE.