Published: 27 March 2018
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Category: Young Adult/Contemporary/Romance
From debut author Mary H.K. Choi comes a compulsively readable novel that shows young love in all its awkward glory—perfect for fans of Eleanor & Park and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.
For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.
Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.
When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.
I’m not 100% sure what it is that drew me to this book. The cover has a cool feel about it, kind of a sketch drawing quality. The story itself, about an awkward meetup between two main characters that are supposedly unremarkable, wouldn’t find itself in my usual fantasy genre. So, what gives?
I think it’s like the kind of book I’d refer to as a personal palate cleanser. There’s nothing wrong with at all, but when you spend so much time entrenched in worlds of magic, people with powers and talking animals, etc., then a journey in the real world with relatively normal people might be just the ticket.
Also, there’s something about Penny Lee that reminds me of my personal high school experience. There were some years that were non-event-ish, some that were quite a bit different in a horrible bully filled way. Suffice it to say, high school equaled not good. Moving on from that wasn’t the spectacular salvation that I thought it would be, much as I expected Penny Lee will discover in Texas, but who knows? I’ll have to read to find out, won’t I?
That’s nothing to say of what kind of back story Sam will have. The summary doesn’t reveal much about his past, only his present. What kind of effect will that mystery have on his presence in the book? We’ll see.