Best friends clash as love is in the air.
Penelope has been best friends with Audrey and Ephraim since primary school, but things are getting complicated for these three amigos. Audrey has a new friend, Cherisse, who seems to exist solely to make Penelope miserable. And Eph is becoming increasingly withdrawn and distant. When Penelope starts dating moody pretty-boy Keats, things get really interesting—assuming it’s the first novel about teens readers have encountered. Events unfold from self-absorbed Penelope’s point of view, and readers will quickly grow tired of her “What about me?” attitude. Her lack of awareness is astounding, and the novel isn’t very self-aware either. When it’s revealed that Keats is manipulating Penelope, we’re meant to boo him, but when Eph does the same thing with another girl to deal with his feelings for Penelope, this John Hughes–worshipping white girl doesn’t even bat an eye. Keats is the most interesting character in the book, a brooding faux-intellectual with a self-worth complex and some serious issues with women, but readers are trapped inside Penelope’s head. These contemporary, apparently white teenagers rely oddly on pop-culture references from the mid-2000s. Mentions of bygone sci-fi fandoms like Buffy and Battlestar Galactica make the novel feel desperate, like a mom trying way too hard to talk like the cool kids.
A predictable and morally suspect love story. (Fiction. 12-16)