I received a free digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I know what you're thinking, "What is Sarah doing, reading YA that is not a thriller?!?!"
Blame Lindsi for that, but I LOVE THIS BOOK. She posted about it a while back and I thought the premise sounded like a lot of fun. I didn't think I would be approved, in all honesty, because my NetGalley profile is allllll about non-fiction, with splashes of love for Karen McManus and Courtney Summers thrown in.
Yet, here we are.
Gretchen is our protagonist, and is a sucker for a good rom-com. She soon finds herself living out well-known tropes from said rom-coms:
1. She's suddenly falling hard for her BFF Samuel.
2. An impromptu makeover and (underage) night out at a bar with her sister and cousin.
3. The hot mysterious guy she meets at the bar.
4. Leading a double life doing stand-up so Gretchen can find out who she is and what she wants out of life.
Gretchen is a character who is easy to root for as she stumbles through her real-life movie, trying to figure things out. She is the youngest of three and has not always felt like she fits in, even within her family. They love her dearly, there's no doubt about that, but Gretchen needs to create a space for herself to be who she truly is - once she discovers that. She feels like less effort went into her upbringing than her siblings that came before her, and Gretchen thinks on this a lot. I do like the way that this aspect of the story was wrapped up. Gretchen is helped out along the way by a wide variety of characters who are wonderfully developed and each stand out on their own at different points.
Despite there being a few different possibilities of who Gretchen would end up with, that was not the focal point of the story and I appreciated that. Gretchen didn't need a boyfriend to define her. She defined herself, and ended up with the guy who best fit into her life in the right way. I did kind of guess who the lucky guy would be, but that did not diminish my enjoyment of the story at all.
There was an interesting little twist I did not see coming, and in part it lead to the unraveling of Gretchen's life as Sabrina, the stand-up comic. it was not something out of left field that felt out of place, but something that made sense. I appreciate that the author took the story in a different direction than I was expecting with that part of the story. There is nothing cookie-cutter about this YA novel at all. Seeing Gretchen grow in her time as Sabrina, and how she used jokes and humor to figure her life out, added to the charm. Being part of the stand-up comic contest gave Gretchen the freedom to express herself in ways she did not feel comfortable doing so around her family and even her friends. I really thought this was a clever way to move the character development along and was a unique way to do this.
I also enjoyed the fact that even secondary characters were well-developed. We meet the fellow comics Gretchen is competing against and get to hear some of their sets as well. This worked really well also, each character felt real and left their own imprint on the story in simple ways.
This book is fun and funny and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Highly, highly recommended.