Fake It Till You Break It by Jenn P. Nguyen
Mia and Jake have known each other their whole lives. They’ve endured summer vacations, Sunday brunches, even dentist visits together. Their mothers, who are best friends, are convinced that Mia and Jake would be the perfect couple, even though they can’t stand to be in the same room together.
After Mia’s mom turns away yet another cute boy, Mia and Jake decide they’ve have had enough. Together, they hatch a plan to get their moms off their backs. Permanently. All they have to do is pretend to date and then stage the worst breakup of all time—and then they’ll be free.
The only problem is, maybe Jake and Mia don’t hate each other as much as they once thought…
This book reads like if The Kissing Booth and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before got together and had a baby.
It contains some of my favorite rom-com tropes of all time, including hate to love, fake dating, and a reverse parent trap years in the making.
But this in no way reads like some sort of amalgamation of the two I compared it to. This truly stands on its own.
The MCs, Mia and Jake, are nice people. Except to each other. You can understand why when their BFF moms have forced them to endure every life stage together. I imagine it would be hard not to resent someone when you don’t really like them and yet they’ve seen you at your very worst and know the kind of things about you that you would only ever divulge to your closest, most trusted friends.
Now that Mia and Jake are teens, their mothers’ thoughts have shifted to what a cute couple the two of them would make, and despite their children’s protestations, some epic scheming ensues, ending with Mia and Jake spending just about every waking hour together.
To get their moms off their backs, they decide to just give in to their matchmaking and fake date. This is a romance, so obviously they catch feelings for each other.
What I loved about this book was how realistically it portrayed the evolution of said feelings. They truly think they can’t stand each other at first, and only when they have to pretend to like each other do they realize…they actually might.
Another big enjoyment factor for me is that this is told through dual first person PoVs. Mia and Jake’s voices are each unique, and they read like actual teens.
I especially appreciated the chapters from Mia’s perspective, because while she’s quirky and spazy, she doesn’t come across like a manic pixie dream girl, but like an actual teenager. At 34, I sometimes forget what those crazy, uncontrolled years of my life were like, but Mia reminded me of a lot of the highs and lows. The toughness paired with crippling insecurity. The desire to want to be suave and put together but being borderline out of control 24/7.
Jake is a wonderful character too. I cannot rave enough about how he lifts Mia up so much. That he has no ego when it comes to her. That he revels in the fact that she can stand up for herself and brags about how she could kick his ass both in video games and IRL.
Jake also has a girl named Rose for a bestie, and friends, lemme tell you about how happy their relationship made me. I have been SEARCHING for one like theirs literally for years. Because guess what? Neither one of them is gay. Neither one at any point catches feelings for each other. Neither one tries to stand in the way of each other’s happiness because of some weird abandonment issues.
THIS IS JUST A GUY AND A GIRL BEING FRIENDS. FULL STOP.
More of this please. I’m over all the other portrayals. Where men and women can’t coexist together in a platonic way without one of them being queer or secretly in love with the other.
So, because Mia and Jake have been forced together their whole lives, they know all of each other’s dirt, which means that when the eventual misunderstandings unfold, they know how to cut each other deep. This made the conflict seem all the more believable. The good thing is that since they’re basically good people, they recognize their own bad behavior and want to make amends for it.
My only scruples with this are Jake’s stubbornness toward the end paired with a little too much cheesiness for my tastes, but honestly, this is a fluffy teen rom-com, so I wouldn’t expect anything less.
I definitely recommend this one for anyone looking for a quick, super-cute, hilarious young adult romance that will leave you smiling for days afterward.