Buy Make Up Break Up
Regular price: $20.10
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Reviewer: Melissa on Feb. 3, 2021
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Ever since I heard Lily Menon (aka Sandhya Menon) was going to write an adult rom-com, I knew I had to read it. I’ve read nearly all of Sandhya’s YA novels, minus the first book in her fantasy series…yet, and I’ve at least enjoyed them, but absolutely loved most of them. So I knew that if she was writing a steamy book with everything else I love about her novels, then it would be a question of when I picked it up, not if I picked it up. Make Up Break Up really is everything I loved about the Dimpleverse, in particular, and a little something extra.
While it took me longer than usual to finish Make Up Break Up, it’s because I’ve been busy with other things and not making time for reading much. But once I had the time for an extended amount of reading time, I seriously couldn’t put it down. Annika and Hudson shared a week in a hotel room at a conference last summer, but when they took their separate ways and start actually working on apps to bring to market, the affection Annika once felt for Hudson is completely destroyed. Back in the summer, he was planning a visual arts app, but now it appears that he took her idea for Make Up, the “Google Translate for failing relationships” and taken it to opposite extreme with Break Up, the “Uber for break-ups.” Hudson is anathema to Annika’s soul, and enemy number one because his app breaks so many people’s hearts. By contrast, all Annika wants to do is bring people together, to make the world a better place.
Even though she can’t stand Hudson, suddenly he’s everywhere: including in the newly rented office down the hallway in her building. He and his hugely successful app are also the subject of many feature pieces in popular magazines, like Forbes. In contrast to his success, Annika’s app is taking longer than expected to develop a working prototype, which gives her bank the leverage they need to threaten her with eviction proceedings by the beginning of July. She’s way over leveraged and may need to apply for bankruptcy if she doesn’t win the prize money that comes with winning the pitch contest at EPIC in mid-June. But of course, the only way to win is to out pitch Hudson and Break Up.
Like a lot of hate to love novels, Annika’s style of hating Hudson is a bit obsessive. Yes, there is a part of her that feels they’re incompatible because his business suggests he’s putting the opposite type of work into the world. At the same time, however, it’s clear that she’s drawn to him. She can’t ignore him when he’s banging on the gong in his office to denote every hundred thousand downloads of Break Up. She can’t help but find herself getting flashbacks to their week together last summer when he shows up at her yoga studio. You get the idea. The thing is, even though she “hates” him, she is also certain he is more than the unfeeling person who found himself creating an app like Break Up. While this certainty that draws her closer to Hudson at every turn, the chemistry they share sizzles off the page even though the really steamy stuff doesn’t happen until three-quarters of the way through the book.
Just like the books in the Dimpleverse, this novel centres the voice of Annika, an Indian-American woman. (But unlike those books, Annika’s love interest is a white man.) Similarly, Lily Menon’s first full length adult novel creates a world where most of the racism that someone who looks like Annika might experience in the world, doesn’t exist. She wants to give readers, including South Asian women, a book that is a fluffy and romantic escape from some of the difficult things they may experience on a day-to-day basis, and that’s exactly what readers get. But that’s not to say that the novel is completely devoid of hardship—Annika’s mother died when she was a very young child, but she was lucky enough to have a father who stepped up and never made her feel alone.
Beyond Annika and Hudson, the characters with the largest roles are Annika’s BFF, June, who is also the developer of Make Up, and her father, who wishes Annika would go to medical school instead of following her dreams with her relationship app. Annika and June mostly talk about their app or guys—usually either Hudson or Ziggy, the guy June is dating and who is the developer of Break Up. They have a great friendship, and if I didn’t think that June might be with Ziggy for the long haul, I would hope that there was another book in the works focusing on her love story. And often Annika and her father talk about medical school because he’s holding out hoped that she’ll pursue a more “practical” career than a business owner. Clearly this is a source of contention in their relationship, and I, for one, really appreciated that Annika demonstrates good boundaries by walking away from a conversation that she’s not ready to have, and later, finally being honest about how she feels.
If you want a steamy book with great chemistry between the leads and a marginalized character in a teach role, then don’t miss Make Up Break Up!