This book did NOT unfold as I expected it to. Although the cover is accurate (and I only realized how fitting it was after I finished it), it completely misled me into believing this was going to be a light, straightforward, cutesy little YA romance between a girl out to fix everyone and a shy but intelligent boy.
It wasn't. And I was pleasantly surprised by it.
, Penny Drummond is an overachiever, who dreams of becoming a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Her first step? To write the greatest feature article ever published in her high school paper. When she accidentally finds out about a student who is love-shy, she thinks this will be the scoop of the year, and to find and help this boy would be her biggest achievement that year. Her quest begins.
I liked how Penny was this go-getter. She can be quite mean sometimes, because she is too focused on her goal to care about other people whom she thinks as lagging behind. Truth be told, at first I didn't know whether to like her or hate her. She was certainly a different character. Actually, almost every character here is either a love-em or hate-em kind of person. They're not two-dimensional cardboard cutout characters. They're flawed and endearingly human, which is great. Penny
is bossy and sometimes inconsiderate, but she is focused and knows what and how she will go about achieving her dreams. Nick Rammage
, who is the love-shy boy, is painfully neurotic and not really your typical hero of the story. This boy is really fucked up and honestly hard to like, though he gets somewhat redeemed as the story moves along. And if I really think about it, I could identify with his love-shyness too. I couldn't like how he freaked out just because the girl he liked cut her long hair short, and got mad at that girl because she looked ugly. GUYS, IT IS NOT A GIRL'S DUTY TO LOOK BEAUTIFUL FOR YOU. WE WANT TO CUT OUR HAIR AND DRESS THE WAY WE LIKE FOR OURSELVES, NOT FOR YOUR BENEFIT. GET THE FREAKIN CONCEPT. Which is what Penny tells Nick, and I think that part was handled well. Also, it was understandable that Nick would become the way he is because of his parents, but some of his behavior was inexcusable.
The characters are either obnoxious or charming. There are many different layers to a person, and these idiosyncratic characters are no exception. Though they had mostly unlikable attributes, Wilkinson managed to make me sympathize with them. And that's a testament to the author's skills. Hamish was a douche, but a well made character because he represented a lot of guys who need work up in their interpersonal relationships. Basically, you should not act like Hamish. But then, maybe he'll get lucky and meet a girl who loves anime and manga like he does and who knows what that could do to him.
As Lily Wilkinson says, Love-shyness is a real condition, as well as other anxiety disorders, and we should know how to help these people. Which includes not letting them get away with their bullshit. I was kind of shocked at the level of misogyny some of the love-shy guys in here said. If they think and feel that way about women, something really needs to be done. The themes on feminism and misogyny were handled really well here.
As well as the actual condition, and the psychological aspect of it.Finally, and most of all, this is a brilliant coming-of-age story.
Penny starts off as this girl who is overconfident in her skills, but who is blind to her faults. The love-shyness article that she slowly became obsessed about helped her realize that people are important too, not just the scoop.*4 stars
These will be hard characters to like. Some love-shy boys do border on stalker behavior, but I understand how painfully hard it is to approach a person you like, especially when you have a preconceived notion of that person and you elevate him/her in your eyes. WHICH IS WHY YOU SHOULDN'T DEVELOP UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS OF OTHER PEOPLE. Things will never go the way you though it would.
But there will be funny moments too, and, yes, sweet moments that will leave you satisfied. Mainly because of that deceiving book cover, this might not unravel the way you'd think it would, but I think you'll still like it. Can I just say that I LOVED Hugh and Penny. It was so obvious that Hugh liked Penny but she was too focused on her career path, and was slowly falling in love with Nick to notice. But I'm so glad Penny met someone who appreciates her the way she is. CAN I HAVE A HUGH FORWARD? DAYUM.
*P.S - Should all book covers be like this? So you go into a book with relatively low expectations, and then, BAM, you realized you've met your new favorite book.
*P.S.S - I find I've never been disappointed with Austaralian YA authors. They just write real, relatable and eventually satisfying stories.