by Rachael Lippincott, Alyson Derrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Genres: Romance, Young Adult
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
She’s All That meets What If It’s Us in this swoon-worthy hate-to-love YA romantic comedy from #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Five Feet Apart Rachael Lippincott and debut writer Alyson Derrick.
Alex Blackwood is a little bit headstrong, with a dash of chaos and a whole lot of flirt. She knows how to get the girl. Keeping her on the other hand…not so much. Molly Parker has everything in her life totally in control, except for her complete awkwardness with just about anyone besides her mom. She knows she’s in love with the impossibly cool Cora Myers. She just…hasn’t actually talked to her yet.
Alex and Molly don’t belong on the same planet, let alone the same college campus. But when Alex, fresh off a bad (but hopefully not permanent) breakup, discovers Molly’s hidden crush as their paths cross the night before classes start, they realize they might have a common interest after all. Because maybe if Alex volunteers to help Molly learn how to get her dream girl to fall for her, she can prove to her ex that she’s not a selfish flirt. That she’s ready for an actual commitment. And while Alex is the last person Molly would ever think she could trust, she can’t deny Alex knows what she’s doing with girls, unlike her.
As the two embark on their five-step plans to get their girls to fall for them, though, they both begin to wonder if maybe they’re the ones falling…for each other.
When I saw this was a sapphic enemies-to-friends-to-lovers, I jumped at the chance to read this book. And, even better, it’s set in Pittsburgh! And even more better, this is actually written by a married writing team, which is pretty darn cute.
Starting college is the perfect chance to reinvent yourself, or at least that’s what Molly and Alex hope. After a bad start at a party, Alex realizes Molly is exactly what she needs. She’ll create a five step plan for Molly to get out of her head and talk to her crush – and she’ll prove to her ex that she’s more than the selfish flirt she accused her of being. But between pretend dates and other exercises, Alex and Molly slowly become friends and then, just maybe, something else. Will reaching their goals be everything they wanted?
“Hey, it’s not my fault you didn’t make a move.”
“Kinda hard to do that when you get called out for being a virgin,” she says, her dark eyebrows jutting angrily down.
“Kinda hard to when you’re making excuses before you even try,” I fire back.
While this takes place as the characters are starting college, this definitely feels young adult to me, as one of the main focuses is each of them figuring out who they are and who they want to be. Both characters start the book pretty flawed. Alex is used to caring for her alcoholic mom (and hiding it), and the only person she’s ever told is her rockband girlfriend Natalie, who accuses her of flirting too much and generally never opening up. They get in a huge fight the night before Alex leaves for college about the fact that she can’t say “I love you” back. Molly’s only friend is her mom. She’s determined to change that in college and even more determined to finally shoot her shot with her longtime crush, Cora. First she has to actually, you know, talk to her. While they’re initially dismissive of the other, they slowly realize that the other has qualities they admire. Alex can’t understand how Molly is able to be vulnerable about her issues, while Alex has never been able to open up to her long-time girlfriend. And Molly is frankly envious that Alex is able to flirt so shamelessly with anyone at anytime. But Molly’s social anxiety is absent when talking with Alex – which she cluelessly believes is because Alex doesn’t matter to her – and maybe this whole “love guru” thing will work out. As the “steps” – which Alex basically makes up on the spot – progress, Alex starts being able to open up and be vulnerable.
It’s very slow-burn. Most of the book is Alex putting Molly through her five step “plan” to get Cora, so while there’s a lot of time with them interacting, there’s not a lot of time with them as a couple. But the way their friendship builds is absolutely amazing, as they learn to lean on each other and be vulnerable. Watching the two of them fall in love while being mostly clueless about it is absolutely adorable. Plus, there’s several amusing references to Twelfth Night which I loved.
“Some things have to fall apart because they don’t belong together, but some things belong so much they could never break.”
Overall, a very sweet but hard-hitting, extremely slowburn sapphic romance that hit all the right notes! I definitely hope the authors team up again and I’ll be keeping an eye out for their next book!
Content notes: View Spoiler »parent with alcoholism, parental abandonment (in the past), car accident (caused by drunk driving, driver is hospitalized but not badly hurt), anxiety, internalized racism, slut-shaming, alcohol « Hide Spoiler