Wow! Just…wow! Just when you think you know where this book is going it throws you for a loop. One of the most brilliant tales of unrequited love I’ve read in a long time.
What’s it About?
Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school. Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember. Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they’ve actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.
I’ll admit, when I first read the synopsis of this book I thought, “Well, we all know where this is going.” I assumed it would be predictable, just like every single high school romantic comedy book or movie out there. Hot mamma’s biscuits I couldn’t have been more wrong! It didn’t take long before I started questioning where in the heck this book was headed, and even though I won’t give any spoilers I can tell you that the ending definitely surprised me. That is a rare thing indeed.
Oh the Shenanigans
In an attempt to break up the monotony of senioritis, Dave and Julia vow to do everything they swore they’d never do in high school. Basically, they want to try every cliché in the book. What follows is a plethora of hilarious shenanigans, and you can’t help but be drawn in by their natural chemistry. In accordance with this vow to try new things, Dave attempts to finally suppress his feelings of love for Julia by spending time with another chica in the schoolyard, Gretchen. As he spends more and more time with Gretchen, Julia realizes she might have feelings of her own for her best friend Dave. Oh the drama!
My absolute favorite part of this book was the promposal that Dave sets up to have the most perfectly clichéd invite to prom ever. I’m talking giant teddy bear costumes and orchestras here. However, the extreme effort and time he puts into this project shows that Dave has developed true feelings for Gretchen. How will these new feelings play into his love for Julia? And what will he do when Julia finally admits that she loves him too?
Why so Brilliant?
I’ll admit that at times the characters weren’t the most likable people ever, but there were several factors which played into the overall brilliance of this book. Firstly, the book starts from Dave’s point of view, but about 1/3 of the way through it switches to Julia’s perspective. Definitely an unexpected, but awesome transition so that we can actually hear both sides of the story. Then, just when you think you’ve got everything figured out, the last section of the book alternates back and forth between Dave and Julia. A ballsy move to be sure, but it worked, and provided a deeper understanding to Dave and Julia’s feelings.
Second moment of brilliance came towards the end, where Dave calls out Julia for being the biggest cliché of them all: the person who always judges the clichés. Sorry to tell you sweetie, but you’re not the only teenager to ever question the ridiculousness of high school cliques.
And now for the absolute most brilliant aspect of the entire book: everyone can relate to it. We all may have had very different high school experiences than the characters in this book, but we can all connect with this story because at one point in time we’ve all experienced that unrequited love/crush that Dave’s been suffering through for years. You know the kind. Where every look, laugh, or innocent touch makes us tingle with excitement. Where we pine for that other person, and wonder how we could ever get over that crush. Is this making you think back to high school?
*I received a signed copy of this book from the author at BookExpo America*
Series: No, but if the author will agree to write a sequel (the college years perhaps?) I promise with all of my being that I will always, ALWAYS, put hot sauce on. Read the book, and you’ll get what I’m saying.
Should you read it? Not gonna lie, at times Julia was kind of annoying in her attempts to be quirky and different from everyone else, but there was something about the dynamic between her and Dave that I just couldn’t look away from.
Smut Level: Nothing too graphic. It’s young adult after all.
Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $9.99 Kindle Price. Harlequin Teen. 320 Pages