Published by Swoon Reads on August 26, 2014
Pages: 272 pages
Amazon • Indiebound • Barnes & Noble • Goodreads
The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together.
Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.
But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.
Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together….
This book had me grinning like a fool within the first several pages (Buffy references?? Yes, please!) and kept the good feels coming all the way through. This is a very sweet story about two really good people who deserve to be together. It should be simple, right? They like each other, they have mutual interests and classes, and many friends/others are rooting for them. And yet it’s not simple at all. We are often our own worst enemy and this story proves that more than most. At its best this book is a funny, sweet and heartwarming examination of how our own perceived troubles and insecurities can get in the way of actual happiness. And what we can do about it.
There are fourteen POV characters, none of whom are the couple in question. Each brings their own personalities and perspectives to the relationship. Not all are cheerleaders but most are. Some are ardently against yet cannot help observing the cuteness that is Gabe and Lea. I will say that occasionally I was a bit thrown off by how short each POV would be within any given chapter. Switching so swiftly between characters left me feeling disoriented at times but obviously your mileage will vary. In any case, nearly every single one of the characters in mention are delightful and quirky and it’s a pleasure to spend time in their heads. This includes the POV of a bench. A bench. You’d think it wouldn’t work but it does. Bench was actually one of my favorites of the POVs. You just have to appreciate a book that includes a bench POV.
This book is effortlessly diverse. Seriously. We have a non-white protagonist, a protagonist with a disability, and one of the (main) supporting POV characters is a queer woman married to another woman. All of this is written and portrayed with a natural and skilled flow that never, ever comes across as preachy or “other.” The information flows organic to the story and feels so right. I was honestly delighted. “This, this, this!!!,” I wanted say are how books should be written.
The biggest misstep is the inclusion of the stereotypical Mean Girl character to act as foil to the couple. After so much “Diversity ftw!” I feel like there was a real missed opportunity here to turn this unfortunate trope on its head. And perhaps especially because this book so easily made diversity feel like a natural part of any story that the stark contrast of this stereotype was just jarring. Nearly all of the characters are united in their unjustified hatred of this girl. It’s unnerving. The story could have been much more interesting if it wasn’t a stereotypically “vapid” girl who was vying for Gabe’s attentions.
The other component that kept this one from being a 4 star read is that I really missed being in the minds of the two people who are actually falling for each other. While far from being an Issue Book, there is an element of heavy that is actually perfectly balanced in the story. And yet I felt like I didn’t get the true weight of it having only observed from the outside. I could tell that this would easily have gotten a higher rating if I’d been in the heads of the couple. But then we woudn’t have a little something different, would we? And, honestly, it is a refreshing change! Bench POV! Squirrel POV!
This is a seriously adorable book and one I wouldn’t hesitate to reach for when looking for a super light, sweet, and humorous pick-me-up. There were many times when my heart filled with little rainbow drops of sunshine and happiness! And certainly the reminder that we are all worthy of love despite our problems, perceived or otherwise, is always welcome.
If that weren’t enough, Wendy also thought this book was made up of a “million little hearts.” Does this not convince you?! Clearly you want to enter our giveaway below for an ARC of this adorable book. Clearly.