Bottom line: A perfectly serviceable novel with sweet romance and poor role models. The 2000s setting does little more than emphasize that this same book could have been published two decades ago.
This is a short, frothy little book with a predictable but compelling romantic arc, infused with some heartfelt family drama. A strong reader could gobble it in one sitting and enjoy being transported into Erin’s strange little world. The series had strong potential.
There’s not a lot that’s technically wrong here, but it was disappointing to me on a few counts. In the last five or ten years, YA has done such a great job of affirming and validating the geeky, nerdy girls that make up the bulk of its readership. I’m not sure why the author(s) chose to center a girl who was ashamed of her closeted nerdiness and putting all her energy into playing Mean Girls, but it just isn’t the kind of character I would hand to a teen girl in my life.
Unfortunately, the book falls short on voice, which is where YA contemporary is KILLING it at the moment. Erin doesn’t feel at all real–her motivations are very shallow and I don’t get the sense she has anything new or interesting to say.
This is the first in a series all set in the same time and place. Hopefully, the next books do something more with the 2000s setting. In this book, it was really just set dressing. It seemed like the authors just set the story 20 years ago so that they wouldn’t have to deal with cell phones or learn about the way teens actually live today.
This is not a great YA novel, but if you think of it as an aged-up MG, it does the job. It’s clean and accessible, so it’d be perfect for readers that want to start reading about high school characters but still want books that are more MG in theme and reading level.
This part is going to seem nit-picky, but it matters. I requested this book in particular because I am a past and future theatre kid. The theatre setting was… yikes. I wish the author had done some research. I could write an entire rant about the things that don’t make any sense, but the real problem was one of attitude. The book keeps telling us that, despite being a leading lady, Erin does NOT have any disdain for the “techies” and run crew, and I think the author doth protest too much. The book is infused with disdain for these kids. Much of the plot involves ingenue Erin nobly giving up her lead part to be assistant stage manager because of a family emergency (???) and discovering, shockingly, that being backstage might be almost as fulfilling! It’s… gross, and reeks of a very old-fashioned way of looking at artistic or tech-minded teens.
I received a free eARC of this novel for my honest feedback. All opinions my own.