Author: Cindy C. Bennett
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Date: December 2011
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Jen’s life of rebelling and sneaking out is growing stale. In an effort to combat her boredom, Jen makes a bet to turn Trevor, a nice little geek, into a “bad boy.” She’s immediately pulled into Trevor’s world of sci-fi movies, charity work, and even—ugh!—bowling. Unexpectedly, Jen discovers that hanging out with Trevor isn’t so bad after all. But when Trevor finds out about the wager, all bets are off.
I requested this book from NetGalley on a whim. To be honest, I’m a sucker for popular guy/unpopular girl love stories (see Nathan and Haley from One Tree Hill, most John Hughes movies, and the recently adorable Jenna and Matty from Awkward), so I thought it would be fun to see the She’s All That concept in reverse.
At first glance, Jen is your typical goth girl, while Trevor is a handsome geek. The idea was clichéd, but to be honest, I adored this book so much I read it in one sitting. While the premise may have been familiar, the book ended up being much more than I expected—it was a well-rounded story about trust, first love and self-discovery. The chemistry between Jen and Trevor was so palpable that I couldn’t contain my excitement and devastation through the ups and downs of their relationship. Everything about it was so real and natural and it had me absolutely hooked.
There were little touches that gave the story a lot of depth. Jen is a foster child, and her past is slowly revealed giving us a great insight into why she is the way she is. The book deals with other sensitive teen issues, like drugs, celibacy, abuse, adoption and drinking, which enhanced the story and added great insight to the characters. It was eye opening to see Jen’s deeply distrustful outlook on life and it was heartbreaking to see her disbelief in happy endings almost sabotage getting everything good she deserves.
When I enjoy a relationship in a book, it’s usually because I have developed a not-entirely-appropriate crush on the guy. This wasn’t the case with Trevor. He was everything you’d want in a boyfriend, but it was never about how much I liked his character and always about how good he was for Jen. I was rooting for them from the minute she asked him to dance, and kept rooting all the way to the end. I enjoyed seeing their relationship develop during their deep conversations, dates, arguments and witty banter, refreshingly unlike the ‘love at first sight’ premise that a lot of YA books would have us believe is the norm. I liked her awkward discomfort when she was in ‘his world’, then her slow realization that she actually enjoyed family time, bowling and volunteering at an old folks’ home. I enjoyed Jen’s voice and thought her sarcasm and dry humour was very endearing. The slightly-off sci-fi pop culture references she used with Trevor were very cute and a very real way to portray her growing feelings. Best of all, Jen and Trevor’s relationship always felt equal. They never forced each other to be anything more than who they were, but tried their best to adapt to each other’s world. In the end Jen’s development from rebellious teen, to geek girl, to finally finding her happy middle was truly believable.
If I had any complaints, it was that some of the supporting cast was under-developed and that Jen and Trevor felt slightly off-character as the book was rushing towards an ending, although it probably had something to do them being apart and struggling with themselves because of it. Even so, lines like, “Trev, all you had to do was breathe to make me want you” made me grin like I was 17 again. Even though it’s been a long time since I’ve been to high school, I highly recommend this book to anyone that wants to laugh and cry along with two very different teenagers who fell in love, and worked it out in the end.