Kaplan (We Regret to Inform You, 2018, etc.) returns with another modern retelling of a classic as three teens grapple with love à la Cyrano de Bergerac.
Ever since they were 8-years-old, Aphra, born with bravado and a mouth that won’t quit, has always looked out for her meek BFF, Bethany, who rarely opens up in public. It’s clear, though, that Bethany likes hot, athletic, all-around nice guy Greg. It’s also clear to Aphra that her large nose can’t compete with Bethany’s gorgeous body, and for once, she keeps her mouth shut about also liking Greg. In Aphra’s snarky yet thought-provoking first-person narrative, an advice app she creates for her computer science class further complicates her dilemma when the AI technology doesn’t work as planned. Posing as the computer, the teen finds herself doling out advice to fellow students, especially Greg. But when Greg incorrectly believes Bethany is behind the app, Aphra decides that if she can’t be Greg’s girlfriend, she’ll help Bethany attain this coveted position. More than a clever technological twist on the original, Kaplan’s version raises awareness of female body image: Aphra’s discovery about the subjectivity of beauty is at once painful and heartfelt. Greek, Latin, Russian, and other literary references and wordplay will engage sophisticated readers. Aphra and Bethany are white, Greg is Latinx, and there is additional ethnic diversity in secondary characters.
A smart and honest look at female beauty, with plenty of panache to boot. (Fiction. 14-18)