A YA contemporary romance set in Georgia about Codi, a seventeen-year-old girl who never parties, never dated, never had a first kiss. She and her friends are all in the same boat and in the summer before their senior year, Maritza wants to change all that. JaKory is game and eager to find a boy that he can get his first kiss with, but Codi is hesitant, she doesn’t like the idea of changing everything about herself to go along with her friend’s plan. Until one night when Codi is needed to drive home Maritza and JaKory from a party, she runs into two boys kissing and they did not want to be caught. In an effort to ease the teen’s anxiety, she reveals to him that she is a lesbian. And so Ricky, because of his nerves and embarrassment, asks her to head inside and get him something, and Codi, despite her fears, enters a party for the very first time.
What comes of this brief encounter with Ricky? Well an unexpected friendship. She tells him how she’s never been to a party before and that it’s all a little overwhelming, and that she’s never dated and feels like she’s completely missed the part where you learn how to be a teenager. And so, taking her under his wing, Ricky introduces Codi to his group of friends, and the fun just keeps coming. The only thing is that she is keeping this from her best friends, afraid they wouldn’t understand and would judge her. So while she’s juggling all these friends, her job, and her new found party life, Codi may just fall in love or make a mess of it (or maybe both).
I loved this book. I sat and listened to the whole thing in one sitting. Seriously. I didn’t get up once. It was like 5 hours of me sitting in my room listening to this book. I loved it so much. It gives you all the nostalgic teen feels and the warm, fuzzy feelings you get when you read a YA romance. This is all made that much better by being queer. I love Codi’s exploration of herself and who she truly is versus what other people say she is. I also really loved her friendship with Ricky. Him bringing her into his friend group and how quickly and readily they all accepted her. It was just so sweet, I have to say. Not that there wasn’t tension or typical teen drama, there was, but it felt authentic to the story and didn’t seem out of reach for real life either. There is partying in this story (obviously) and tbh, I liked it. I liked that it showed that teens drink and get high, because that is what some teens do. It’s just like with Perfect on Paper, and we know how much I love that book.
I liked the friend group dynamic of Codi, Maritza, and JaKory. It was tense and realistic about when friends who are coming of age, also have a moment where they need to determine if their friends are actually the best people for them. I think this did a good job of showing how much they all cared for each other, but also how much they just don’t understand about each other. I think Maritza and JaKory’s storylines are fleshed out enough that you can tell they have their own lives going on without Codi’s involvement and you see how that colors their behavior and how they interact with Codi. Like I said, realistic.
If you love YA romances, if you love queer stories, if you love them both together, then you will like this book. It is quintessential YA romance and is absolutely perfect. I really love getting to experience the stories that I was desperate for as a teen. Being in the closet and having your main representation be dramas where you die, dramas where you’re attacked, and comedies where you’re the butt of the joke, doesn’t really breed confidence and acceptance about yourself. So when I say that these queer romances, these queer stories, make me ecstatic and elated, I mean it. Not only for myself, but also for the young queer kids who are seeing themselves represented in all sorts of ways and that they get to have a happy ending. Genuinely, I loved this book, and I think you will like it to if it hits any of your buzzwords.