‘Ryan Chase was my eighth-grade collage, aspirational and wide-eyed. But Max was the first bite of grilled cheese on a snowy day, the easy fit of my favourite jeans, that one old song that made it onto every playlist. Peanut-butter Girl Scout cookies instead of an ornate cake. Not glamorous or idealized or complicated. Just me.’
Author: Emery Lord
Paige is your average 17 year old, except roughly a year ago she lost her boyfriend Aaron in a terrifying drowning accident. The story is set in Oakhurt, which is a tiny little town where everybody knows everything. This makes situations like Paige’s a lot harder to deal with as she will always be considered as The Girl Who’s Boyfriend Died and people will always give her That Look.
Paige is sick of this and comes up with a list in order to move forward with her life. This list includes things like; socialise, join a new club, date, travel & swim. She chooses long term crush Ryan Chase as her goal for dating and in an attempt to get close to Ryan she joins QuizBowl, (ticking off ‘join a new club’ on her list in the process) which is run by Ryan’s cousin Max.
Max is the type of guy in high school that you couldn’t pick out from the crowd, he keeps his head down, gets on with his schoolwork, joins clubs he is passionate about (no matter how nerdy) and is rarely seen with a girlfriend. Ryan is the total opposite, the most popular boy in school, cares about what others think about him and is rarely seen without a girlfriend. Max & Ryan do have a strong relationship despite this which is so lovely to read.
Ryan’s long term girlfriend has broken up with him so Paige’s plan is in full flow and before she realises it, a new little friendship group has formed consisting of Paige & her 2 best friends & Max & Ryan. Her plan is working.
We learn a lot about Max and Ryan throughout this book and it explores the fact that not everybody is how they appear on the surface. Max’s personality shines through and Paige finds herself falling further and further without even realising.
Even though Paige is dealing with the grief from Aaron’s death, this is such a hard time for her. She was only dating Aaron for 2 months when he died, she didn’t know him as well as his friends did and because of this she does not feel worthy of grieving him. She has grieved for him longer than they were together and that is one of the most heartbreaking truths of this story.
This book touches on a lot of emotions and I loved every single page, an amazing choice for the Zoella Book Club from Amy Alward and an incredible book from Emery Lord.