When I realized I got assigned two realistic romance books I think I audibly groaned. Being my snarky self, the first question I asked was if both books could lose. :p Alas! This tournament was obviously a great opportunity to expand my usual reading habits and I ended up devouring both books.
I started with Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick and its characters’ philosophical rants give off such John Green vibes that I immediately thought it was a shoo-in to win. Most of these rants center around a short story, called the Bubblegum Reaper, which appears in the beginning of the book. The Bubblegum Reaper represents the characters’ feelings of being outcasts from society. The characters worship the story so much that I found myself flipping back to the beginning to reread and analyze it along with them.
The Bubblegum Reaper is also used to instigate most of the relationships created, such as the teenage romance between protagonist Nanette O’Hare and her first love Alex. I appreciate how the plot depicts the sweeter side of high school dating, such as when Alex and Nanette fall asleep while face timing each other. It’s also one of the few portrayals I’ve seen where a character puts a romantic relationship on hold to work on dealing with her own life. The second half of the book follows Nanette as she works on her mental state through therapy and self-exploration. I don’t have any notable negative input and would totally recommend this book to patrons at my library. Its only downfall is that it isn’t AS GOOD as The Sun is Also a Star.
Spoiler Alert: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon is my ULTIMATE WINNER. The majority of this book happens over the span of a single day. One day is all Natasha has to find a way to stop her family from getting deported back to Jamaica. One day is all Daniel needs to majorly impact his future with an elite college interview. One day is all it takes for Natasha and Daniel to fall deeply in love. One day is all it took me to finish this freaking fast-paced, delightful book!
I was initially worried about the chapters alternating between the two main characters point of views since I knew this was going to be a romance. I felt like if their personalities weren’t defined well then the plot would come off as a narcissist falling in love with him or herself. Luckily, I realized my worries were a waste of time as I got to know the hopeless romantic Daniel and the determined, skeptic Natasha. The alternating chapters combined with the brief timeline give the book a fast pace and I could not set it down as I got sucked into the thrill of one event after another unfolding in the story.
Two realistic romance stories, two entirely different reading experiences. The characters in the Sun is Also a Star won me over with their quirky personalities and I am excited to pass this book along for the next judge to experience. Both books are solid choices, though, to either recommend to your passionate teen patrons or indulge in yourself.