Published: September 1 2020
Tags: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction, Jewish Faith, Same-Sex Parents
| Synopsis from Publisher |
Shoshanna Greenberg loves working at Once Upon, her favorite local bookstore. And with her moms fighting at home and her beloved car teetering on the brink of death, the store has become a welcome escape.
When her boss announces a holiday bonus to the person who sells the most books, Shoshanna sees an opportunity to at least fix her car, if none of her other problems. The only person standing in her way? New hire Jake Kaplan.
Jake is an affront to everything Shoshanna stands for. He doesn’t even read! But somehow his sales start to rival hers. Jake may be cute (really cute), and he may be an eligible Jewish single (hard to find south of Atlanta), but he’s also the enemy, and Shoshanna is ready to take him down.
But as the competition intensifies, Jake and Shoshanna grow closer and realize they might be more on the same page than either expects…
| Book Review |
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
– Content –
I know this book is marketed as a rivals-to-something-more romance for teens, but…it is so much more than that!
Divorce/Family Issues, Front and Center: One of the biggest conflicts in this book is looming divorce. Shoshanna’s moms are fighting, a lot. She doesn’t even want to think the word divorce, else it makes it true. She spends much of the first half of the book trying to do little things here and there to get her moms to stop fighting and start loving each other again. Any teen who is going through divorce or has a broken home experience will relate deeply to what Shoshanna is going through. Silverman does an an excellent job of painting this very painful, confusing time realistically and with care.
Friend Troubles!: This is kind of a side-conflict that stems from the “Divorce” issue. Shoshanna works at a mall and her two best friends also work there, but in different stores. Because she is embarrassed/in denial about what’s going on at home, Shoshanna does a few things that cause conflict with her friends, even though she thinks she’s helping. It’s one of those big blow-ups that make you feel like the world is ending and it’s irreparable. Needless to say, I felt for Shoshanna deeply during this portion of the book and kudos to Silverman for writing such a fantastically realistic explosion of conflict!
Enemies-to-Friends Trope: Yes, yes, like the book summary states, this book has a rivalry, front and center between Shoshanna and the new guy at her book store job, Jake. But…the animosity doesn’t last long. Is that a bad thing? No! It’s just if you were hoping for a real build-up of tension, this is not really one of those times. There’s a competition that keeps the barrier up a bit, but Shoshanna spends most of the book realizing very quickly that a) she and Jake have a lot in common, like their Jewish faith, and b) she has a really big crush on him. It’s a fun romance that is much more soft and cute than it is butting-heads-sexual tension (which is good for a YA!).
Oh the Diversity!: This book is very diverse in a few ways. Firstly, Shoshanna is Jewish (not hard-core, just in a minor way) and many Yiddish phrases are sprinkled throughout. There’s also several LGBTQIA+ characters represented, most front-and-center being Shoshanna’s two moms. Her best friend, Cheyenne, is a lesbian and a side-plot of the story is her recent break-up with her girlfriend. Other diversity included is racial – Shoshanna’s other best friend is African-American, and several other characters are people of color. One of the other diverse aspects of this book that I loved seeing was Shoshana’s manager, Myra, who is disabled and uses a wheelchair. Disabled characters are represented so infrequently, so I was very happy to see some rep here and it’s one of the things I love best about this book.
– Literary Value-
Well-Constructed Plot!: I think one of the things I like best about this book is that the plot makes sense, it doesn’t feel too slow or too fast. Silverman makes real use of her characters and keeps the flow of action/in-action pretty balanced. I felt a nice pull to keep reading throughout the book, which was really great!
The characters!: This book has some great character development. Shoshanna, in particular, really grew on me as I read. Some of the things she did at the beginning felt really crazy and dramatic, which I didn’t like, but I can see how it was just a way of showing her progression throughout the story, so that when you get to the end, she seems to have progressed and I felt better about her by the final page. I also really enjoyed getting to know all the side-characters. No one felt cookie-cutter to me, except maybe the two “goth” bookstore workers, but I’ll let that slide. I really liked Shoshanna’s two friends, I liked Jake and Daniel, and I think Myra was also an excellent edition.
Tropes That Work: Look, I know that tropes can be a real turn-off for people, since they can be so over-done or just not done well. I was very prepared to not like the whole enemies-to-something-more situation going on between Shoshanna and Jake, but I think that Silverman has created a really well-constructed story here, and the trope didn’t feel cliche to me – probably because she didn’t lean so heavily on it, like some authors do. Instead, it felt more like a hint; it was subtle and it wasn’t stretched out for the whole length of the book, making me wish they would just get together already! Instead, I felt the progression made sense. It really works in this case. Well done, Silverman!
– Entertainment Factor –
I didn’t know what to expect before reading this book, except that I was excited it was about a girl working at a bookstore (dream job!). I’d never read anything by Silverman before, so I didn’t know what to expect from her, either, but I was really happy that I read this book because it definitely was a fun read!
I really enjoyed the characters in this book and I loved the plot. I feel like this is a book that I will remember for a while. It’s stuck with me even after I’ve finished it. I especially enjoyed that the major trope that this book is marketing wasn’t cliched or just what I expected. Instead, it was a subtly used tool that made for an enjoyable, light romance, with some pretty hard-hitting issues tackled. Overall, a nice read!
– Cover Art –
I generally like this cover. I love the blue, and I like the fact that the faces of the people are mostly hidden behind books, because as I’ve said before, I don’t like seeing faces on book covers! This cover just gives you a hint of suggestion about what the characters look like, so it’s borderline, but I’ll allow it because I actually like the illustration of them. I also enjoy all the books on the cover. It really gives me a sense of place for this book and I think it reflects that the majority of the book is going to be about book selling.
Other than that, I think it’s a generic cover and there isn’t anything in particular that would draw my eyes to it, but I think it’s overall cuteness is definitely in its favor.
| My Rating |
Definitely Worth the Read
This book was just plain fun to read. I love the characters, I love the diversity (which doesn’t feel like pandering or selective) and I really enjoyed the plot. I think this is a well-constructed book that discusses some prevalent issues that teens might experience, in addition to having a cute, light romance that is born from a subtly used “enemies to something more” trope. I think that Silverman’s writing is pretty good, there’s a lot of humor there and it mostly feels realistic and true.
Would I Recommend This Book?
Yes, definitely! I think that it covers some topical stuff that teens would relate to and I think the romance is sweet and the characters endearing. I would definitely promote it to those looking for a more humorous love story than a dramatic, serious one. This book is more light than dark, even though it discusses some pretty serious topics. I also would recommend it to anyone looking for a contemporary story, especially if they love books, because this story celebrates books for real! Check it out sometime!