A grand misunderstanding disrupts the lives of high school sweethearts in this YA novel.
Sophy Sharpley has to concoct a case study for her social studies class. But her best friend, Julie, has bigger problems, like the list of pros and cons about her boyfriend, Freddie, who she contemplates breaking up with. Sophy’s relieved that her relationship with Russ is thriving, believing they “will get married (someday) and live happily…and sensibly (one child, one cat).” She figures out a swell case study: she’ll examine teen dating habits, starting with Julie’s messy list. But when the list falls into Russ’ hands, he becomes convinced that Sophy wrote it about him, expressing her displeasure (“Not a good kisser!!!”). He embarks on a campaign to change her mind. He writes his own list about Sophy (“Bossy”), which his sister Angelica steals. At school, Russ tries to parse the list that he thinks Sophy wrote, showing it to Darren and Mark. They add to the confusion by telling him that the last item, McRib, is not a sandwich but a fetish. Julie provides her list to Freddie, the bully Bonce steals Russ’ list from Angelica, and Mark plasters fake lists around the school. When the list about Sophy is unfurled as a banner in the auditorium, chaos ensues as she dumps Russ, and the token of apology Freddie purchased (a cactus) becomes a symbol of revenge. The former lovers fall into a dating free-for-all until the truth comes out. Then the parties must decide whether to embrace their pros and cons to find happiness. Sophy’s class project appears throughout as case studies of certain couples, although the comedy of errors that befalls the heroine is far more intriguing. Sharman (Ignorance Risk Hope, 2016, etc.) offers many characters to keep track of, but the plot gallops along with a perfect mix of inside jokes and hilarious high jinks (Freddie reinvents himself as The Gladiator, with cactuses his signature weapon). In this delightful, quirky book, Sophy’s parents are present enough to illustrate that these teens’ lives don’t exist in a vacuum. The multiple narrators sometimes cause confusion (it’s unclear who Tekfin is), even as they amusingly profit from said lists. But the heartwarming and original final chapter focuses on the novel’s heroes, Sophy and Russ.
A zany and satisfying story for fans of YA tales that pack as much humor as they do heart.