Friday, October 7, 2016


(review based on an advance reading copy)

As if Jessie’s life didn't change too much already when her mom died, now her father has abruptly remarried and moved them to a new state to live with the new stepmom and her son. This is also means leaving Jessie’s school and all her friends in Chicago and starting new in Los Angeles, which feels like a completely different world. Lucky for Jessie, a mysterious stranger emails her offering to help her learn all the insider tips for surviving at this snooty school.

Of course, the stranger refuses to reveal his identity, only stating that he wouldn’t be able to make this same connection with her if he introduced himself in person. I loved the cast of this novel, which is packed full of varied and layered characters, many of which seem flatter until Jessie pays closer attention. The premise also provides an entertaining mystery, because Jessie can’t help assessing everyone she meets – or sees from afar – as her potential mystery friend.

The voice really won me over. Jessie feels familiar and unique. Believable and likable. Young but mature. As with a lot of young adult novels, a good chunk of this book is interior monologue as Jessie takes in the world around her, and I loved reading everything through her perspective, especially since she does in fact grow over the course of the story.

My only complaint is that ending felt abrupt and focused entirely on wrapping up the romance plot thread at the expense of all others. Sometimes how a book ends can tell you as much about the story as the rest of this book. I would have pegged the novel more as a story about Jessie learning how to look closer at people. Then the ending suggests it’s really meant foremost as a romance.

Regardless, this one stood out from the plethora of young adult novels out there thanks to a crisp and district voice, lots of faceted characters, and fun mystery begging for a big reveal.

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