Ok, I take back everything I've ever said about YA contemporary.
Well, not really, but for the sake of this book I take it all back and I'll put it back later.
This was a super cute little book and given I wasn't expecting much, I was blown away. The MCs Pepper and Jack aren't just cardboard cutouts, the typical 'outside girl' or 'hot guy'. They each have their issues, insecurities, and character traits that make them more than the stereotypical YA teen.
First of all, I loved the banter between Jack and Pepper and the whole online snark they share in their twitter war between Pepper's family's fast food giant and Jack's family's deli. It really captured the insanity that is online viral spats and how Pepper's mother becomes obsessed with the back-and-forth, forsaking any common sense or decency. That said, her personal motivations aren't revealed until late in the book, and so until then her actions seem like absolute madness.
First of all, Pepper - from country girl to prep school city teen, Pepper has not the best relationship with her mother, who is the main boss lady of a major fast food chain. I really felt her anxiety when it came to dealing with her mother, how she tiptoed around not wanting to rock the boat the way her older sister had. Her relationship with Jack, however, turns that around (for the better) and by the end, Pepper finally realises what the deal is with her older sister Page and finally has a break through with her mother.
Jack is great - I can really see how he feels like he's the twin that got left behind and how his brother always seems to get what he wants, regularly getting away with murder. The dynamic within the family is really interesting - Jack's perception is skewed by how he sees his family's deli as the worst place he could end up where his parents see it as one of the best things in their life, not realising Jack doesn't see it that way. Doing away with the common non-communication/miscommunication trope that generally plagues YA, they actually end up having a conversation about the whole thing and start to work through it in the end.
There's the whole mean girl aspect that ends up being an entire misunderstanding on Pepper's side and I like how they end up becoming best friends. Given, it took Pepper 4 years to realise it, but better late than never, I suppose!
Honestly, this was a great listen and I loved the switching between Pepper and Jack's perspectives. It was a lot of fun and definitely made up for the incredibly disappointing jaunt that was To All the Boys I've Loved Before.
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