In Real Life by Jessica Love
Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.
There’s just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.
Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she’s supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Las Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.
Hannah’s surprise romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and finds out that Nick has been keeping some major secrets. Hannah knows the real Nick can’t be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.
Warning: ragey rant against slut-shaming ahead.
“What about Frankie? I can’t do this to her. I shouldn’t have kissed you. I’m not that girl who—”
Bitch, please. You are.
This story is YA contemporary fluff about teenagers who make bad decisions. I’m not against this book because of the fact that the teens made bad decisions, I was a teenager once. I’ve made my share of idiotic choices about which I cringe upon reflection. I’m against this book because of:
1. Incredibly bad decisions. Yes, there is a difference between 19-year old me driving 80 miles to meet a (female) online friend (accompanied by my real life friend for safety) vs. 17 year old girls driving over 300 miles to LAS VEGAS to get drunk and then split to party with strange boys. I’m not trying to victim blame. I’m trying to beg the use of some common sense
2. The cheating
3. The slut-shaming
First, the good. Diversity. It’s awesome that the characters are diverse! Hannah is Korean. Her best friend Lo is Mexican. Awesome. But people, DIVERSITY DOESN’T MAKE UP FOR EVERYTHING THAT’S WRONG WITH THIS BOOK.
The plot: Good-girl Hannah decides to sneak away to Vegas to meet her online best friend, Nick. Warning, spoilery stuff ahead if you should care to read this book.
*takes a deep breath*
Turns out online-friend Nick has a girlfriend. Said girlfriendhas big boobs and looks flashy, therefore she barely counts as a human being. Therefore it’s perfectly acceptable for Nick to cheat on her. To make mooney eyes at Hannah and for Hannah to return the favor and fall in love with Nick because his gf totally doesn’t count, right?
WRONG. BLOODY FUCKING WRONG.
This is a story about Hannah, therefore SHE IS THE GOOD GIRL. She is not. If this story were told in Frankie (Nick’s gf)’s perspective, it would be a whole different tale, one of how Nick fucking cheated on her with a girl he knew online. Yeah, how do you like them apples? It takes two to tango, and Nick. Is. Taken. The fact that Hannah wants him and feels and is portrayed as more worthy doesn’t change the fact that. They. Cheated.
Cheating is not forgiveable, but can be more sympathetically portrayed, if there is remorse. If the person knows what they did was wrong. If they felt like the scum of the earth, etc, I might have some sympathy for them. There is none such in this book.
Now the slut shaming. JUST BECAUSE A GIRL HAS BIG BOOBS DOESN’T MEAN SHE’S A BITCH. DOESN’T MEAN SHE’S A SLUT. My fucking god, are we in the Victorian age here? Desire is not a sin. Having an enviable body is not a crime. Just because a girl is beautiful and sexually attractive does not make her a slut. Why do authors continue to perpetrate these harmful stereotypes?
Hannah is so fucking resentful against Frankie for her big boobs. She repeats this hateful tirade throughout the book and I was sick of it. Listen to these examples.
And then a girl walks out from backstage. A tiny girl with red hair. Not ginger red, but red like a crayon, dyed herself, probably, in some sink or bathtub like Grace this morning. Tight jeans, a loose T-shirt—but not so loose that you can’t see her huge boobs—she looks the part of hipster or groupie or oh, I’m with the band girl.
“That’s his girlfriend. The chick with the red hair and the huge boobs.”
I don’t need to have this girlfriend conversation with Nick in person. And certainly not with her standing right next to us, big boobs all in my face.
I don’t want to like her. I want to punch her in the face. I want to make her disappear so I never have to look at her funky style and big ol’ boobs ever again.
I could never pull off those shoes and that dress in public. Where did she get those boobs?
Frankie, to me, was not a bitch. She is a perfectly nice girl, she is extroverted, she is eager, she is affectionate towards everyone – even Hannah herself. But because she is inconveniently the object of Nick’s affection, she is portrayed as the bad girl. Because she has large breasts, she is portrayed as the bad girl. That’s not ok with me.