Trigger Warnings: homophobia, bullying, homophobic microaggressions, emotional manipulation and abuse, alcohol abuse, drug use mention, emetophobia, physical altercation, physical injury, car accident
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publication date: April 20th 2021
Synopsis (taken from Storygraph)
High school nemeses fall in love in this queer YA rom com perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Casey McQuisten.
After losing spectacularly to her ex-girlfriend in their first game since their break up, Scottie Zajac gets into a fender bender with the worst possible person: her nemesis, the incredibly beautiful and incredibly mean Irene Abraham. Things only get worse when their nosey, do-gooder moms get involved and the girls are forced to carpool together until Irene’s car gets out of the shop.
Their bumpy start the only gets bumpier the more time they spend together. But when an opportunity presents itself for Scottie to get back at her toxic ex (and climb her school’s social ladder at the same time), she bribes Irene into playing along. Hijinks, heartbreak, and gay fake-dating scheme for the ages. From author Kelly Quindlen comes a new laugh-out-loud romp through the ups and downs of teen romance.
**** eARC was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.
This is one of those ARCs I was saving for a good relaxing read but then I forgot the publication date. So of course yesterday I was SCRAMBLING to finish it in time but I didn’t have to worry. I was 70% through the book in one sitting. I only stopped because it was 1am and I wake up at 6:30 for work.
What an ADORABLE book!! The enemies to lovers sapphic fake dating romance to steal your heart. I am OBSESSED!!! I really was not expecting to fly through it that fast. Honestly, I think I should have slowed down to savor it, it was that good.
Scottie is dealing with a breakup and while distracted, thinking about said ex, rear ends the car of the girl who bullied her. Moms get involved and Scottie has to now drive Irene to school for a few days. Within these short trips to and back from school, Scottie and Irene are at each other’s throats with the cutting remarks. I thought there was NO WAY they were actually getting together, and if they did I’d hate it because WTF. I was wrong :))))
After Scottie proposes her fake dating there’s a begrudging sense of respect between them. Scottie was giving Irene $1000 for this. It was transactional but she was also parting with 1k which okay respect. Irene agreed to come out publicly which Scottie was surprisingly respectful about. You’d think a transactional fake dating thing would mean definite blackmail but Scottie was not about to out someone who wasn’t ready to be and that was very righteous of her if I say so myself. That’s evident in how Irene also starts to warm up to her incrementally.
Their relationship development really sneaks up on you, not in the “where tf did that come from?” way but in the “OHMYGOD YESSS” kind of way. It’s the little moments that add up and I think if I went back and reread, I’d be able to tally up all the moments that led them to changing their opinions of each other. It is SO WHOLESOME.
I also loved how throughout the book they really start to understand and work with each other through their struggles. They give each other space to learn and grow and heal, there’s opportunities to have clear heart to hearts, perform appropriately tailored grand gestures that shows one has paid attention and understood the other’s needs. It’s absolutely perfect.
I’d call this instalove but I have witnessed an even shorter timeline of two people saying they love each other so like I have proof it happens. Anyways, I am never going to call short love timelines bs again because lmao it really do be happening to people. Not me thinking the average timeline is like 2 years jbgejksrhejr
The book is also relatively diverse which is GREAT. Irene and Scottie are identified as queer with no specifications. While evidence points to lesbian I’m not going to assume. Irene is Indian, specifically from Kerela. The author has done a decent amount of research because the family names are identifiably South Asian Catholic. I mean, one of the Bollywood actors is literally named John Abraham so it fully tracks. I appreciate that even though that detail was mentioned in passing, enough research was put into giving Irene a complete character background.
I loved the theme of dismantling the idea of popularity while juxtaposing it with notoriety. It’s a fine line to tread but it worked really well with giving the so called popular girls at the school a well rounded identity. It broke the stereotype that so many shows and movies tend to build up with the “mean girls” trope.
Healing from a toxic relationship is also a central theme and I really appreciate the time given to that. Past actions within the book are reflected on and there is active change taking place to show growth and effort. It’s well done, if a bit rudimentary. That’s fine though, the fact that it’s acknowledged in this book as a part of the process of getting over someone who caused deep hurt is what I really appreciate.
This book is so sweet and so lovely!!! It frankly reminded me of Tell Me How You Really Feel by Amina Mae Safi and that’s one of my favourite YA Romances so it’s high praise. I loved it SO MUCH!!!
Hope y’all get around to reading it!! Until next time lads 🙂