Scarlett Epstein may hate her life, but I love her narrative voice. Funny and real, this book is a short and engaging read that fans of books like Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl will find irresistible. I do have to say that, while I gave this book five stars, the response from other readers has been all over the spectrum. I think that means you either connect with Scarlett or you really, really don’t. I think it is at least worth sampling to see if you will love it or leave it because I’m certainly glad I didn’t pass on the opportunity to live in Scarlett Epstein’s hated world for a while.
Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her pot-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.
When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. Scarlett never considers what might happen if they were to find out what she truly thinks about them…until a dramatic series of events exposes a very different reality than Scarlett’s stories, forever transforming her approach to relationships—both online and off.
I really loved this book! It is smart and snarky and laugh out loud funny. Scarlett is a narrative voice with a sharp wit and an honesty that many YAs will find very engaging. She isn’t perfect, but her faults feel perfectly real. The cast of secondary characters was a quirky mix of unexpected and average that created a believable and enjoyable community of folks who are all just trying to get by. The plot is nicely paced to allow the implosion of Scarlett’s life as well as the rebuilding, and the angst of a maybe-he-does, maybe-he-doesn’t romance is compelling and just slightly pathetic enough to, again, ring true. I loved the fact that there were thoughtful lessons hiding underneath the humor, and it added a nice depth. I can’t wait to get a copy of this book in my classroom library because Scarlett is an unforgettable character and I know my high school students will enjoy this hilarious look at going around the obstacles that life throws up unexpectedly. Language and situations are appropriate for grades 8+, but adult readers of YA will be able to enjoy it as well.
I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.