Nina Barnes thinks Valentine’s Day should be optional. That way single people like her wouldn’t be subjected to kissy Cupids all over the place. That is, until her mom moves them next door to the brooding hottie of Greenbrier High, West Smith. He’s funny, looks amazing in a black leather jacket, and he’s fluent in Harry Potter, but she’s not sure he’s boyfriend material.
West isn’t sure what to make of Nina. She’s cute and loves to read as much as he does, but she seems to need to debate everything and she has a pathological insistence on telling the truth. And West doesn’t exactly know how to handle that, since his entire life is a carefully constructed secret. Dating the girl next door could be a ton of fun, but only if Nina never finds out the truth about his home life. It’s one secret that could bring them together or rip them apart.
Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book is not for anyone who has to get in the last word, but it is for all book nerds, especially those who live next door to so called unapproachable gorgeous guys. There’s no debating the chemistry.
I picked up this book on a whim. Honestly, I was trying to clear books that I had lost interest in from my Kindle – not permanent interest, but temporary-genre-interest. I go through phases. Most often I am reading fantasy, sci-fi, and urban fantasy of some sort. But occasionally, which is getting more and more occasional, I enjoy a good contemporary or historical romance. Not long ago I was in one of these romance phases and loaded my Kindle with hundreds of books that I thought would tempt me. As quickly as I entered that phase, I fell out of it. I lost interest. But I still had hundreds of books on my Kindle, taking up space, and making it difficult for me to find what I actually wanted to read.
For some reason I decided it was only fair that I try to start this book before I unceremoniously deleted it from my Kindle. And once I started, I was charmed. I liked Nina, a bookworm who is not (really) insecure in herself. I liked that she was comfortable with who she is, and that she really didn’t feel the need to conform to anyone else’s ideal of what’s “cool.” Not terribly common in high school by my experience, but I liked it all the same. I hope the same for my kids as they transition from the tween to teenager phase.
West was, on the surface, the boy that girls want to change. Moody and (apparently) cool, he had no shortage of girls interested in him. I would have rolled my eyes but we learn more about West and his life early in the book and it gave him some incredible depth.
This book is told in alternating 1st person point-of-view. Thankfully it’s clearly marked which chapters are in which character’s POV. I don’t remember a hugely significant difference between the sound of their voices, but I always knew whose head I was in so it was clear. There wasn’t a lot of angst, which was a nice relief. There was something of a “misunderstanding” or “willful omission” that became a problem. It was slightly irritating to me, in the way that misunderstandings and not talking always are to me, but I liked how realistically it was resolved. I liked how the characters seemed to be fairly level headed, while still learning who they are and what is acceptable to them, or what they can forgive. It made an idealized version of being a teenager, I think – or at least one that I, nor anyone I’ve ever known, experienced.
I say idealized because, for me, growing up was never filled with extra money, a car I could count on, and the ability to do whatever I wanted. I don’t ever recall them doing actual homework, working, or earning any money through chores. They just had money to spend on gifts, movies, food, and gas – apparently. It’s a background consideration in a story, but it makes everything more real to me. And here it felt unrealistic. Which isn’t a bad thing. This was a cute story that deftly dealt, I think, with some surprisingly heavy topics and issues.
I saw some discussion on it, but I actually thought the love of reading for both Nina and West was nicely shown, as was their enjoyment of Harry Potter. I would have liked to see the deeper connection that most HP-lovers I know have, but it still felt mostly natural to their characters.
Overall, this is a cute, fun book with a minimal amount of angst, and characters that seem to have their heads pretty straight. I liked it.