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.
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.
I loved Nina, I loved West, and I loved their story. It is funny and sweet, has real depth, and is happily missing those awful ‘bitchy cheerleader’ and ‘bullying jock’ characters that can be a real turn-off. I love how this book deals with issues of mental health and abandonment. The treatment isn’t glib or superficial, nor is it dark and heavy, but handled with sensitvity. The situations are woven so well into the story that you ache for the characters in their lowest moments, yet also feel certain they are going to be ok.
West may be a ‘brooding hottie’ but Nina isn’t a girl to be overshadowed or overwhelmed by it or him. Their banter is hilarious, and their debates brilliant; both characters are well-developed and well written. They feel very real and identifiable, demonstrating a sensible level of maturity when they have opposing opinions on a big issue. Each is able to accommodate the other’s perspective without having a silly argument or a break-up over it. Switching points of view works really well and didn’t have the repetitiveness that often happens with this device.
What is also joy is the ‘book-wormery’ of both characters. Far too often teen and young adult characters are presented as either emotionally over-sophisicated, with rampant sex lives, and parents with little or no control over their off-spring, or they are geeks, nerds, and losers who must be mocked, humiliated, and bullied because they read, are an IT wizard, love Sci-Fi, etc etc. The author is more in touch with their world and gives us the reality – the majority of teens and older are as fluent in Harry Potter and other book series as Nina and West.
How these two get together is fun, and how they stay together is entertaining. There is lots of humour and laugh-out-loud moments. Yes, there are real lows as well as highs, but the author has balanced them perfectly.
This is a book that I highly recommend; another ‘curl up with drinks and nibbles, read it in one go‘ book for me. Try it and see.
Chris Cannon is the award-winning author of the Going Down In Flames series and the Boyfriend Chronicles. She lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and various furry beasts. She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures or snarky romantic comedies.