A viral photo throws two teenagers’ lives into chaos.
When nerdy white girl Rachel takes a covert picture of dreamy white boy Kyle as he works at his fast-food job, she thinks nothing of posting the pic on Flit with a catchy hashtag: #idlikefrieswithTHAT. The picture quickly goes viral, with Kyle’s follower count climbing into the tens of thousands. After a daytime talk show gets its hands on Kyle and Rachel, the two classmates find themselves in increasingly close quarters. Romance blossoms while an ex-girlfriend and ex-friend throw wrenches in the works, the narration flipping between Rachel and Kyle. Kyle is nothing but a schmuck with a haircut, haplessly speaking without thinking and bemoaning his inability to understand subtext. It gets old fast. Rachel’s narrative starts out promisingly: her online experience is filled with scorn and ridicule. Gagnon brushes up against the gender gaps in the social media age but quickly abandons it for the “nerd girl dates popular guy” trope. Given Kyle’s lack of substance, this betrays Rachel’s credibility as a strong female protagonist. She also fails to follow through on the social media issues she tees up. Once the pic is posted, a TV show quickly becomes the focus of the couple’s storyline, and the story treads familiar “we’re different people when the cameras aren’t rolling” territory.
A missed opportunity. (Fiction. 12-16)