by Sophie Gonzales
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: March 9, 2021
Genres: Young Adult, Romance
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
In Sophie Gonzales' Perfect on Paper, Leah on the Offbeat meets To All the Boys I've Loved Before: a bisexual girl who gives anonymous love advice to her classmates is hired by the hot guy to help him get his ex back
Her advice, spot on. Her love life, way off.
• Can give you the solution to any of your relationship woes―for a fee.
• Uses her power for good. Most of the time.
• Really cannot stand Alexander Brougham.
• Has maybe not the best judgement when it comes to her best friend, Brooke…who is in love with someone else.
• Does not appreciate being blackmailed.
However, when Brougham catches her in the act of collecting letters from locker 89―out of which she’s been running her questionably legal, anonymous relationship advice service―that’s exactly what happens. In exchange for keeping her secret, Darcy begrudgingly agrees to become his personal dating coach―at a generous hourly rate, at least. The goal? To help him win his ex-girlfriend back.
Darcy has a good reason to keep her identity secret. If word gets out that she’s behind the locker, some things she's not proud of will come to light, and there’s a good chance Brooke will never speak to her again.
Okay, so all she has to do is help an entitled, bratty, (annoyingly hot) guy win over a girl who’s already fallen for him once? What could go wrong?
Content warnings: View Spoiler »biphobia, MC has alcoholic mother, MC’s mother once almost kidnapped him, cheating (MC’s parents), divorced parents, underaged drinking, drug use (marijuana) « Hide Spoiler
This book is just so adorable and funny. I’m not sure how I’ve missed this author before, but once I picked this book up I could not put it down!
Darcy operates an agony aunt locker at her high school. Students can drop off a letter – and the fee – and get a personalized email response. And things are going great! She has a 95% success rate (based on refunds) and she’s successfully managed to keep it a secret, even from her best friend Brooke. Until she gets surprised by Brougham. Initially Darcy thinks Brougham is nothing more than a blackmailing jerk, just another rich kid who gets whatever he wants – and he wants to get his girlfriend back. Darcy reluctantly agrees: she’ll help him address what went wrong in their relationship and he won’t tell. But as the lessons progress, Darcy’s not sure how she can help such a stick-in-the-mud, or if she even wants to.
“There was something special about being seen the way that Brougham seemed to see me. Maybe Ainsley understood me in a similar way, but that was different, because she was my sister. This was someone who was a total stranger to me only months ago, sizing me up and listening to what I said—and listening harder still to what I didn’t say—and somehow correctly piecing it all together to understand me. And maybe he could do that because in some ways, we mirrored each other. We shared cracks in complementary places.“
Darcy is an amazingly complicated character, and I loved her to pieces. She’s in love with her best friend Brooke, to the point where she’s gone to some, well, not great lengths to sabotage other relationships. But at the same time, she’s deeply invested in the letter locker. Some of the letters are included in the book, and they’re lovely, though I did wonder how well a sixteen year old would actually answer those questions. It’s sort of Darcy’s calling, though, as she spends most of her time watching relationship guru videos and learning about attachment styles and healthy boundaries. What I loved about Darcy, though, was that she admitted she had her own blind spots, and how she owned up to her mistakes. She’s not perfect by a long stretch, but she’s trying, and it shows in the myriad relationships throughout the book. I loved how her relationship with Brougham developed and how blindsided she was by it, but honestly my favorite relationship in the book was between Darcy and Brooke, and that the big grand gesture was from Darcy to her. Friendships can be just as important as romantic relationships, and the book prioritizes that while still leaving plenty of room for romance.
“Don’t gaslight her. What she’s describing is internalized biphobia, and bi’s didn’t invent this shit. Society sends us that message. We’re made to feel like we’re not queer enough to hang with queer groups all the time.”
This book is so amazingly queer! Darcy’s sister Ainsley is trans, she’s part of the school queer club, there’s a nonbinary student in the club, and the majority of her friends are bi or pan or lesbian. And it made my bi heart so happy! Darcy struggles with feeling like she’s not queer if she’s dating a guy, especially a straight guy. And, wow, I totally feel that. I can’t tell you the amount of books – queer books – with casual, blatant biphobia. And, small potatoes, I loved that they go to Disneyland! Sure, it’s in the context of helping Brougham out with his date with Winona, but they go on Space Mountain and Mickey’s Wheel of Death and eat corn dogs. Plus something about the hilarity of Darcy and her sister trying to stealthily follow them around – especially during a time when Disneyland is closed and I’m missing my churro fix – really struck a chord with me.
Overall, an easy 4.5 stars. I’ve already added the author’s previous books to my TBR and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for her future books!