It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?
One thing I really enjoy about the author’s writing is that she manages the perfect blend of contemporary sweetness but with a serious undertone, without descending into what I refer to as ‘issue books’. (And disclaimer, there’s nothing wrong with ‘issue’ books, but I wasn’t in the mood for something terribly heavy.)
The female friendship in this book was also wonderfully depicted – yes, there are conflicts and you can grate on each other’s nerves and even treat each other badly sometimes, but ultimately they are the little family that you’ve made and you’ll go over and above the line of duty when they need you.
In friendship, we are all debtors. We all owe each other for a thousand small kindnesses, for little moments of grace in the chaos.
I liked that while Paige had a massive crush on Ryan, she came to realise that it was something she’d made perfect in her head, but in reality would end up as something that she actually wanted or be right for her. It’s an important distinction to make – and I wish more books would do this.
As an introvert myself, I could also totally appreciate my poor shy awkward cinnamon rolls of Max and Paige trying to communicate with each other, and putting themselves out there. I enjoyed watching their friendship develop, and that it came before they decided to take things a step further.
The family issues and grieving process were also dealt with pretty well. Paige has a lot of her own baggage to sort out before she can even begin making other major life decisions – and realises this.
Overall, the author somehow manages to add some profound statements without sounding pretentious, but which simply capture so many of the things I find myself unable to put into words.