Bailey has been chatting with her online friend Alex for months. The two of them click perfectly, but when she finds out she’s moving to the same small town that he lives in, she just can’t bring herself to tell him — what if he’s a creep? What if he’s not even a teenage boy? What if she’s imagined their connection to be greater than it really is? She has a plan, though, she’ll use the hints he’s dropped to scope him out. If he seems okay, she’ll introduce herself.
When Bailey gets to town, her dad finagles her a job in a quirky museum. She spends the summer taking tickets, making friends, and alternately fighting with and making out with cute security guard Porter. But all the time, she feels like she’s betraying Alex. The two of them were never dating, but now Bailey’s spending all of her time with another guy. Worse yet, Alex seems to be pulling away. As the summer draws to a close, Bailey will need to make a decision — follow her heart to be with Porter or resume her original plan of finding Alex?
So, first off, I’ve been anticipating this book for what feels like forever. When I saw it pop up in Simon’s catalog on Edelweiss, I was immediately drawn in. I didn’t know what it was about, but I knew that I had to read it and that I would absolutely adore it. How does that work, you might be asking? I have no idea, but it was true. In the interest of disclosure, I read this book when it was offered for free on Riveted.
I’m going to tell you what happened when I started reading this book. What happened is that I couldn’t stop. I started reading it around 9pm the night before work. I do this all the time and it’s really no big deal. I read a chunk of the book and then resume the rest the next night. But I couldn’t stop. I just couldn’t bring myself to set this book down. So not only did I stay up past my self-imposed bedtime but then I woke up extra early to read another 20% or so before work. While I was at work, I was thinking about this book. (DO YOUR JOB, SARA.) After work, I collapsed into bed and finished. I love my sleep, so this is some pure dedication.
I love all of the tropes in this book. Like, every single one of them. I love books that involve some kind of online communication. I love that whole thing where the characters are at each other’s throats and then something snaps and they’re all over each other. I even love books about online friends meeting in real life. Let me tell you a story about that, actually.
When I was in my late teens, I was super active on LiveJournal. I loved that website. It’s a cringy time capsule at this point, but back then, it was my home. I had friends from all over the world, some of whom I still talk to occasionally, and of those friends, there was this guy Kris. Now, I have no idea if (a) that’s his real name or (b) if he was really the same age as me or (c) if he even lived in California as he claimed. But I thought he was the coolest. We clicked. We were never flirty, but we talked constantly and sometimes had those “oh, I wish we weren’t so far apart” conversations. (I lived in Wisconsin at the time so we were a mere 2000 or so miles apart.) We never brought up visiting. I would have never gone. But this book brought back all the feels and I wish I could reconnect with him.
This book is adorable. Could Bailey be a better protagonist? (I too am a dodger — like to the point that I once hid in a bathroom to avoid an awkward conversation with my date — so instant bonus point for that.) Could Porter be any swoonier? (And what is it about YA love interests named Porter?) I loved how open and honest and sex-positive this book was. It would have done me a lot of good when I was in the target demographic. My only complaint about the book itself is that I think the whole discovery of what was actually happening took too long. (Such a tiny complaint!)
My biggest complaint, though, is that the plot summary gives away the biggest spoiler ever so I’m just going to pretend that it doesn’t, okay? Don’t read the plot summary! Figure everything out for yourself! It’s pretty obvious if you’ve watched any romantic comedies in your life, but it’s so cute I can’t even complain.
I was already eagerly anticipating Starry Eyes and now I just can’t wait.
Final rating: 4.5, rounded up to ★★★★★