Published by Balzer & Bray on December 31, 2013
Amazon • Indiebound • Goodreads
Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.
Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.
One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.
Look at that cover!
Oh, how I want to join those two fresh-faced teenagers in their tiny little love bubble. I want to giggle and be generally adorable with them. I want him to call her “short stuff” and her to tease him about his awkward lankiness and the fact that he’s ugly in the same way as Paul Dano, and then I want to squee as they touch their frosty noses together.
And the premise–girl working in her family’s Medieval Times-style banquet hall falls in love with a boy after saving his life in a ridiculous way–is a lot of fun. I wanted so badly to love this book. It really does (I’m so sorry please forgive me) promise to be amazing.
That’s the problem with titles, isn’t it? A few years ago, my husband wrote for a show called The Forgotten, and the day he got the job he began to calmly prepare himself for the punny reviews that would inevitably come. And they did come, of course, because when a joke is right there, you absolutely have to take it. Why would an author do this to herself? Why would a publisher let her? I’m going to hunt down all the interviews I can find to get to the bottom of why Constantine left her flank so woefully undefended against…well…me.
Because I didn’t like this book. I didn’t like the main character, who self-identifies as a shy, average student, but who is actually just kind of stupid and dull (“Yeah, I’ll give that some thought…not” is one of the zingers she delivers to her terrible, terrible friends). I didn’t like the entitled dummy of a frat boy she instantly falls in love with when he chokes on a cocktail weenie after mocking her with his friends, calling her “Weenie Girl” while she’s serving at a wedding. I didn’t like the way professional, successful, intelligent adults suddenly behave illogically (I’m sorry, but everyone knows not to speak to the police before consulting an attorney. The police are legally required to give you that information when they arrest you.) when it’s necessary for the author’s plot twists to work.
I didn’t like the Bling Ring elements, or the way Grayson lies to get girls to sleep with him until he meets Wren, “the only girl who mattered.” I hated Wren’s unbelievably sheltered confusion about interactions between children and their stepparents, and the way the dudes in her life use her as a pawn to get reactions out of each other. The switch between Grayson’s and Wren’s first-person narration doesn’t work at all. And in case you were wondering, yes, the title is absolutely referenced by one of the characters in the book.
I suppose that for a younger teenager who has experience with neither the instant spark that leads to a passionate, short-lived fling, nor the slow burn of real love, this story might fulfill a very specific fantasy, but I have a hard time imagining a world in which this book would be enjoyable for an older reader. The characters are just too illogical and boring. And un-sexy. And absolutely not in love.
The cover’s really sweet, though.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.