Is it still a love triangle if there are only two people in it?
There are a million things that Halle Levitt likes about her online best friend, Nash.
He’s an incredibly talented graphic novelist. He loves books almost as much as she does. And she never has to deal with the awkwardness of seeing him in real life. They can talk about anything…
Except who she really is.
Because online, Halle isn’t Halle—she’s Kels, the enigmatically cool creator of One True Pastry, a YA book blog that pairs epic custom cupcakes with covers and reviews. Kels has everything Halle doesn’t: friends, a growing platform, tons of confidence, and Nash.
That is, until Halle arrives to spend senior year in Gramps’s small town and finds herself face-to-face with real, human, not-behind-a-screen Nash. Nash, who is somehow everywhere she goes—in her classes, at the bakery, even at synagogue.
Nash who has no idea she’s actually Kels.
If Halle tells him who she is, it will ruin the non-awkward magic of their digital friendship. Not telling him though, means it can never be anything more. Because while she starts to fall for Nash as Halle…he’s in love with Kels.
“Because engaging with adults who think YA is for them? It’s exhausting.”
I almost took this comment by the protagonist personally. Because this book clearly conveys the message that YA is not meant for me. Since I’m and adult and all.
Okay, do I think that YA is meant for me? No. But do I still enjoy this genre? Yes. And although I am a huge consumer of YA books; these days, I do find it harder to relate to teenage characters from YA books. But I still feel that the author went at it in the wrong angle with the messaging of this book. While YA is marketed towards teenagers primarily, a large chunk of its readers do comprise of adults. And the messaging of the book would definitely alienate its adult readers.
The story follows Halle Levitt, a YA blogger who plans to be follow on the footsteps of her grandmother and be a Publicist in the future.
A significant portion of the story is centered around an online controversy about a YA book that Halle loves and hyped in her blog. The fictional author of the book referring to Halle’s review says in an interview that her book should not be boxed into a category, and should be enjoyed by people of all age and not only teenagers.
Outrage and hurt ensues. Halle is upset. Her teenager followers are upset.
But here is the thing. The fictional author with the supposed offensive comment? She did not say anything that I felt justified all that outrage. She did not insult her teenage readers but rather just requested that her book not be boxed within a certain age-group.
This book not only was disparaging towards adult readers of YA but I felt that it also carried a problematic message towards teenage readers too. I mean, teenage readers will one day become adult readers. So, you are basically saying that they can only read certain books for a small scope of time and then they are thrown out of the YA club? Hmm.
Anyways, let’s put aside me being an adult reader of YA. I do think that the outrage would have made more sense if the author had made a more insulting comment towards its teenagers. On the other hand, I did find this whole plotline a very interesting reflection of real life scenarios of this age where a comment is taken out of context made a huge deal of in social media. Even if it was done unwillingly on the part of the author.
Believe it or not, if this plotline was the only problem I had with the book, I still would come out of this read a happy reader. That did not happen.
The book started on a promising note. I liked Halle’s family dynamics. I also found the details about the blogging very interesting. Halle incorporates her cupcake making skills into her YA reviewing. Being a blogger myself, the time and effort she invests into her blog struck a chord with me.
I liked her at the beginning too. I empathized with her lack of social skills due to moving around a lot with her parents who are Oscar nominated documentary filmmakers. I found the equation between her online persona Kels and Nash cute. I also really liked Nash. He was adorable. But when she meets Nash in real life, things start to go downhill.
The story suffers from the usual curse that books with this double-identity plots suffer from. It is stretched too thin. I could understand and empathize with Halle suffering from an identity crisis and not disclosing her online identity to Nash at the beginning.
But then her attitude gets worse. One day she is nice to Nash and his friends, the next day she is rude. Then suddenly she is ghosting her online friends. Her behavior and her lies got on my nerves. At one point, she starts dating Nash. And she still continues to feel insecure about him liking her online persona more. Umm, you two are the same person! And then she has the audacity to blame him for lying to you? I seriously got secondhand embarrassment for her.
The only character I could relate to by the end was Ollie, Halle’s younger brother who kept saying things from my mind. But Halle, sadly, was far too gone. I just wanted to shake her till I could bring some sense into her.
Honestly, these characters and this universe had a lot of potential. But by stretching the lies too thin, the author lost her protagonist’s likeability and my patience as a reader.