NYU freshman Mariam Vakilian is at a crossroads.
Socially adrift, unsure about her major, and still grieving the end of a three-year relationship with her boyfriend, Caleb, who is attending UC Berkeley, Mariam signs up to try HEAVR, a virtual reality dating app. Reviewing her top three matches, she immediately recognizes—and impulsively chooses—Caleb. Creating an avatar and using an alias to disguise her identity, she goes on virtual dates with him, hoping he will fall back in love with her. Just to complicate things, another one of Mariam’s dating app matches is her new real-life friend Jeremy, with whom she’s becoming increasingly close. Muddling through all this confusion forces Mariam to work through some of her anxiety and self-absorption to truly connect and build honest relationships with family, high school friends, and her college circle. Tash (The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love, 2016, etc.) presents readers with a young woman navigating life’s risks and rewards in a way that will resonate with many readers. Although the pacing lags at times, smooth writing and lively banter elevate this deceptively light novel. Mariam is the daughter of Iranian Muslim immigrant parents, and Persian cultural elements add texture and interest to the story. Caleb is implied African-American, Jeremy is half-Mexican and half-Italian, and Mariam’s white lesbian roommate has a French-Canadian girlfriend.
A sincere story of self-discovery. (Fiction. 14-18)