Peter, an over-the-top but not particularly ethical young businessman, spouts the jargon of the trade with an expert’s enthusiasm. Rachel is his quiet, shy neighbor who often seems to disappear into the background of life even when she’s with her outgoing best friend.
Hoping to find her own voice, Rachel agrees to become Peter’s unpaid intern in his next business venture, but the experience leaves her feeling used and angry. Peter—who is self-focused and has little empathy—has that effect on people. Seeking a bit of sweet, targeted revenge, Rachel creates a rival business. Unfortunately, her determination leads her down an unsavory path, as she ignores her inner voice and defrauds her gullible customers. Speaking in opposing first-person voices, the two kids (depicted in cover art as white) only slowly come to understand both their own shortcomings and the other’s needs. Interspersed between some of the chapters are bits of the fantasy novel Rachel is crafting, which incorporates elements of their conflict. The premise is amusing, the pitfalls are revealing, and the ending, of course, is happy, but the meandering trail to that ending is overlong. Many of the running jokes are based on business concepts (including the tips that Peter sprinkles throughout his narrative) that may not resonate with the intended audience.
Entertaining (perhaps mostly for young entrepreneurs), occasionally insightful, but never especially compelling. (Fiction. 9-12)