Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Summary: “A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.
The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn’t supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn’t know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they’re both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia’s ever seen. As Claudia’s world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.” (Summary found on Goodreads).
As a little beginning note, I am so glad that nearly all of the books I’ve picked up this year so far have been incredibly diverse. Talk about starting 2018 off right! This book made me so very happy because it’s been such a long time since I’ve read a book that has such great representation of marginalized groups (in my opinion–correct me if I’m wrong) and really portrays a normal high school. It’s not realistic for everyone to be white and straight. I look around my school and I see the exact opposite. And it’s fantastic to see that written in a book.
Anyway, I loved this book. I had a few quibbles (hence the four star rating), but I did truly enjoy it. I don’t read contemporaries that often and probably wouldn’t have read this if not for Owlcrate, and for that, I am very grateful. This book has such a cute romance and amazing side characters. As well, it’s got a little Shakespeare in it and who can complain about that? Okay, maybe a lot of people, but not me. I regretfully haven’t read A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but it’s very high on my Shakespeare TBR list.
“Sometimes…around some people, I feel like I have to, like…try, you know?…But with you– when I’m with you, I can just…exist. You know what I mean?”
I really liked Claudia. She’s a really relatable character and I loved that we got to see so many different facets of her. She plays video games (yay same!), loves a boy band (not same, but cool!), is good at school, loves her friends, loves her family, and yet still has issues with her friends and family. Can I also applaud Emma Mills for having a really strong familial aspect here? There’s so little positive families in YA and this was such a pleasant surprise! We see the ups and downs of family, but at the end of the day, they all love each other and care for each other. It was so fluffy and sweet.
“Sometimes it’s hard to know if something’s for real? It’s hard to believe it, even if you want it to be real. Even if you want it so badly. Sometimes it seems…safer, you know. Not to risk it.”
I also loved her friends and this book is definitely more about friendship than romance, in my opinion. I really did love Iris, despite her being a complete jerk in the beginning. She underwent a lot of character development and I liked that Mills explored the other aspects of her character, like the boy band fan and the girl whose never really been liked by anyone but Paige. Also, her friendship with Claudia was A+. Can we have more female friendships in books?? They’re so precious.
As well, Claudia’s friendship with Zoe was super sweet and reminded me a tad of one of my friendships. I did think the “issue” between them was fairly cliché and I wasn’t a huge fan of that. I personally, would have also been mad at Zoe and may not have been so keen on forgiveness. But I’m also petty and hold grudges. Anyway, I also loved Noah and Gideon’s friendship. The line about Noah being his brother made me smile so much.
Anyway, I think my main issue was how quick Gideon and Claudia were to become interested in each other. In no real world would a boy take one look at a girl and become interested. Or maybe I am a huge cynic that doesn’t believe in true love. It felt a lot like instalove though and boy, am I not a fan of that trope. I did like that it took a long time for them to get together (slow burn for the win!), but I think it had a messy start.
I also thought that the conflict felt more middle-grade to me, but the content wasn’t fitting to the younger genre at all, so…Personally, it could have used a little more depth, but maybe that’s my preference for a ton of angst. I think that’s more a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”.
But anyway, the rest of this book was totally me. It was cute and sweet and so wonderfully done. I highly recommend this book!
“It just feels like…” Her voice small. “Sometimes it just feels like I’m faking.”
“Maybe everyone feels that way.”